Philippines House Leader Suggests Action on FOI Bill

18 February 2011

A top leader of the Philippine House of Representatives said this week that an effort will be made to bring a bill up Feb. 22.

The statement by Deputy Speaker and Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III comes despite the decision so far by the new Aquino administration not to make the FOI bill a legislative priority (See previous report.)

Exactly what measure will advance remains unclear.  Some 15 bills have been advanced.

The Inquirer reporter  Lira Dalangin-Fernandez  further wrote:

Tañada, one of the main authors of the bill, said proponents were willing to take a look at it to address the concerns of Malacañang.

“Still, I am open, and I am also informed by advocates that they are likewise open, to revisiting some provisions of the bill to the end that the anticipated administrative burden is further eased,” he said in a separate statement.

According to him the review might include the list of information that the bills require to be automatically disclosed without need of request as well as the period of complying with a request.

Earlier, Malacañang through Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma expressed fear over undue administrative burden or government analysis arising from gratuitous requests for information.

“The Palace was cautious about the possible impact of the FOI bill on the transaction volume of some agencies which, given limited resources and specified timeframe within which to act, might be deluged with simultaneous requests,” Tañada added.

According to a Manila Bulletin article by Ben Rosario, at a congressional hearing on the measure, Aquino Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma expressed the concern that the FOI bill might create an “undue administrative burden.”

The paper reported: “Tanada countered that out that more than 90 countries from around the world have already adopted FOI bill and none was heard of any burden of their bureaucracies grinding to a halt as a result of such legislation.”

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