Philippines House, Senate Move FOI Legislation Slightly

11 December 2012

Both the Philippines House and the Senate have taken additional steps toward passing a freedom of information bill, but one of the biggest hurdles, passage by the full House, remains ahead, with the timing uncertain.

On Dec. 11, the same House committee that approved the bill Nov. 27, was forced by its chairman to hold another meeting to carry out what he said was a necessary procedural step.  Not everyone agreed with his assessment. The committee easily approved the committee report on the bill.

 Committee Chairman Ben Evardone, who missed the meeting because he was on official travel abroad, texted reporters that he plans to sponsor the bill before the plenary session “hopefully by next week,” according to an article on the website of the Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

Others, including Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo Tañada, one of the authors of the bill, are hoping for earlier debate as the Christmas recess approaches.

The FOI bill (Senate Bill 3208) was passed in the Senate on second reading Dec. 11, with main sponsor Sen. Gregorio Honasan guaranteeing passage on third and final reading by next week, PCIJ reported.

One senator sought to change the name to the Freedom of Information Act or FOI, but Honasan said he preferred to stick with the name he gave it — POGI, or the People’s Ownership of Government Information Act. POGI is a colloquial word meaning “handsome.”

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