Aquino to Advance FOI Bill Proposal, Aide Says

4 May 2011

The chances of a freedom of information in the Philippines improved this week as aides to President Benigno Aquino said that a FOI bill will be presented to the House of Representatives.

The Palace bill has not yet been made public, but even the prospect of a written proposal is considered positive news after Aquino declined to make FOI a priority legislative item and aides expressed doubts about bill in the House. (See previous reports.)

“We want to be as transparent and as open as possible given the limitations of privacy with respect to national security matters and other matters as decided by the Supreme Court. We also looked at other versions,”  presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda was quoted as saying May 3 report by GMA News.

The development came as the Right to Know, Right Now Coalition sent a letter to Aquino urging him to lead on the issue. “We believe that a key reason for the lack of progress on the FOI bill in Congress is perceived lack of decisive support from the executive branch, in particular from the President,” the coalition said in an open letter to the Chief Executive, as reported in the Philippine Star. The coalition is composed of 155 media and civil society groups.

A lengthy review of the troubled recent history of the FOI legislation, written by Jaemark Tordecilla, was published this week by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. The PCIJ has also issued a recent report critical of access to information in the Aquino administration. (See previous report.)

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