Palace transmits FOI version to House

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Proposed bill transmitted to House for consideration; Despite development, FOI bill still not a priority measure of the administration

MANILA, Philippines – A version of the Freedom of Information bill drafted by Malacañang has been transmitted to the House of Representatives on Thursday, February 2.

This was announced by President Benigno Aquino III at the 112th anniversary of the Manila Bulletin Thursday, and was confirmed by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Friday, February 3.

“Earlier today – and actually this afternoon – we formally submitted to our coalition partners in the House of Representatives a substitute Freedom of Information Bill, which we believe addresses stakeholders’ desires to have more transparency and more access to information in government,” Aquino told the crowd at the Bulletin’s anniversary event.

The Palace version of the FOI bill, which aims to heighten transparency and accountability of government, was submitted for consideration of the House Committee on Public Information. Despite this, the FOI bill is still not in the priority measures of the Aquino government.

The version of the bill, according to Malacañang, has additional provisions on the following: 

  • Access to financial information, particularly Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs)
  • Streamlining of availability of information online via official government websites
  • The use of major Filipino languages in information dissemination, and
  • The creation of “Freedom of Information Manuals” by agencies

Malacañang said the proposed bill was a product of consultations with various stakeholders, and was mainly based on the bill sponsored by Rep. Erin Tañada.

“Extensive consultations were conducted with civil society and media proponents of FOI, as well as various agencies of the government,” Valte was quoted as saying.

“We want every other administration voted into power to work under the same standard of transparency and accountability that we have set for ourselves,” Malacañang said.

The proposal was formulated by a Palace study group led by Communications Usec. Manuel Quezon III.

Quezon, in a press conference on Friday, said that the proposal to create an “information commission” was removed, saying it would only add “another layer of bureaucracy.”

He also said that the Tañada version will still be the template for the bill. –

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