June Passage of FOI Bill in Philippines Predicted

13 January 2012

The version of freedom of information legislation supported by Philippines President Benigno Aquino is being called the People’s Ownership of Government Information bill, or POGI, which is Filipino slang for handsome, and supporters continue to be hopeful it will pass, although some have expressed concern that it is not officially on the list of bills certified as urgent.

Aquino recently announced his support for a bill modified to his liking, which has received favorable, although not enthusiastic reviews. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) Efforts to win passage are under way, with various legislative leaders promising fast action, as did Aquino.

Several legislators predict passage by June.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, chairman of the committee on public information and mass media, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that a bill would be on President Aquino’s desk for signature in the first quarter of the year.

A bit longer, according to a House member quoted in a report in the Manila Standard said:

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, chair of the House committee on public information, said they are hoping that Congress will be able to pass into law the FOI bill by June 2012, or before Congress’s closing of the Second Regular Session of the 15th Congress.

“That (marching order) is enough for us to pass the bill here. Perhaps, we can send it (FOI Bill) to the plenary (for approval on second reading) by February and have it approved (on third reading) by March,” he said.

Some legislators in recent media reports have expressed concern about the substance of the bill and worried about the commitment to passing it.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, one of the main authors of the bill in the House of Representatives, commented that the proposed exemptions weaken the bill and the penalties are light.

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