Philippines Lawmaker Says FOI Bill a Top Priority

23 July 2015

Philippines Senate President Franklin Drilon said July 23 that lawmakers will prioritize six measures, including the freedom of information bill, according to news reports such as one in The Sun Star, but a House leader was pessimistic.

Also in the priority list, Drilon said, are the 2016 national budget, modernization of the state weather bureau agency, amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer law to strengthen the private-public-partnership, and the creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

“We know and realize that we only have six months remaining for this third regular session. There’s a lot in our plate but we intend to achieve as much as we can,” Drilon was quoted as saying.

Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, however, said in a radio interview that other matters than FOI may preoccupy the House.

FOI bill advocate Rep. Teddy Baguilat recently urged the House to make the FOI bill its third priority after the proposed 2016 national budget and the controversial draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“We have only a two-month or three-month window – August to October – to pass the FOI bill. After that, I am not optimistic that we could still do it,” he told a news forum in Quezon City, The Philippines Star reported. “Considering the calendar, it is a worrying prospect that the FOI will again languish in the legislative mill,” he added.

Baguilat expressed hope that President Aquino, in his last State of the Nation Address on July 27, will prod his congressional allies to finally pass the measure, something he has not done before despite a campaign pledge to pass a FOI law.

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