House group handling FOI bill slammed for being too Slow
by FFE PH News Staff
Supporters of the Freedom for Information (FOI) Bill criticised the House of Representatives technical working group (TWG) tasked to consolidate the bills for being too slow.
Bayan Muna party representative Carlos Zarate said yesterday ‘It is unfortunate that we are still shackled by technicalities while the people are already waiting when is the real discussion on the contentious issues [will happen].’
The TWG’s meeting had been suspended twice in the past over technical issues on which group should handle the consolidation of the bills. TWG needs to consolidate 22 versions of the FOI bills and discuss the contentious points before it goes to plenary readings.
TWG member and Dinagat Islands lawmaker Arlene Bag-ao however said that TWG made a big step during their meeting yesterday. In the said meeting, the members of the group finally adopted the non-controversial provisions. Bill proponent and former deputy speaker Lorenzo Tañada III said this will allow the members more time to talk about the controversial provisions. He also clarified that adopting the common provisions was not meant to rush the process of forming the bill.
The group will still debate on the possible exemptions to the bill on 12 February, including records of executive sessions, documents that involve national security and statements of assets and liabilities (SALN).
The FOI had been in the House committee level since the previous Congress. Thursday was the TWG’s first meeting for the 16th Congress. Bill supporter senator Grace Poe said she is looking to pass the final version of the bill in the upper house within the first quarter of 2014 and urged the lower house to speed up the passage of the bill.