Philippines Senate Delays Vote on FOI Legislation

17 October 2013

The Philippines’ Senate has delayed a vote on a freedom of information bill, probably until 2014.

The Senate plans to work first on the proposed 2014 national budget, according to media reports of statements by Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Plenary debates on the bill started and some reports had suggested a vote would be held the week of Oct. 14. Senate passage of the FOI bill is considered a sure thing, but House passage has eluded the bill’s supports for two successive congressional sessions.

Referring to the FOI bill, Drilon said: “We can resume deliberations before the adjournment in December if we still have time when the budget is in the bicameral conference committee or we can have a full debate in January of next year. I would predict that by the end of first quarter of 2014, we should be able to approve the FOI on third reading and refer it to the House (of Representatives).” His remarks were quoted in the Oct. 17 Sun Star.

The paper said the House Committee on Public Information plans to hold its organizational meeting on Oct. 22.

Rep. Emmeline Y. Aglipay told BusinessWorld  that the organizational meeting will “jump-start the committee hearings on the proposed measure.” Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. expressed optimism that deliberations on the FOI bill will “move in the current committee.” “The schedule of the FoI hearings will be decided during the organizational meeting but definitely, we will push for a timetable for FoI hearings,” Baguilat said in a text message to BusinessWorld.

The Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition recently met House public information committee chair Rep. Jorge Almonte, urging him to set a timetable for action, according to an Oct. 16  Daily Inquirer article.

The coalition sent a letter to Congress Oct. 7 urging prompt action.

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