Philippines FOI Bill Absent in Final Days of House Session

21 December 2012

The freedom of information bill was not presented on the floor of the Philippines House during the closing days of the 2012 session, leaving another step to be taken in nine days available for possible action early next year.

Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada in a text message to reporters, said that the bill is “back in the ICU,” referring to the intensive care unit of a hospital, according to an article in The Inquirer.

House majority leader Neptali Gonzales said that the ratification of the controversial reproductive  health (RH) bill dominated the end of the session, the Inquirer reported

Rep. Walden Bello, a co-author of the FOI bill, said seven sponsorship speeches were lined up for the FOI bill.  “If the FOI were to be introduced after the RH ratification, there was fear that few people would remain to hear sponsorship speeches and even the Speaker’s closing speech,” he said, according to the Inquirer.

Bello predicted the FOI bill would be “introduced first thing next year and there will be a sharp debate on amendments.” He was quoted as saying further, “I am still hopeful that we would get it to third reading before the session ends in February but a certification by the President as urgent would guarantee its passage.”

That certification probably won’t happen.

President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman told reporters, “At this point, we have no plans to certify this (FOI bill) as urgent,” according to an article in The Philippines Star.

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