Aquino tosses FOI bill passage to Congress

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President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday remained firm on just leaving the fate of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the hands of Congress.

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In an interview aired over Bombo Radyo, Aquino said the executive has done its part about the bill and told the public to raise its concerns on it with Congress.

He added that he is not against the bill only that the measure still lacks what he had told Congress to put in.

“Sinabi lang namin na ito ‘yung mga kailangan naman nating makita diyan at hinain na namin sa Kongreso matagal-tagal na [We said these are what we need to see there and we presented them to Congress not too long ago],” Aquino said without elaborating.

“So, kung may isyu, baka dapat sa Kongreso kayo magpunta, hindi ho sa amin [So,
if you have an issue, maybe it’s Congress you need to go, not us],” he added.

Unlike the “sin” tax law and the Reproductive Health (RH) law that he had certified as urgent, the President said, the FOI bill is not a matter of national emergency.

He explained that failing to pass both the “sin” tax law and the RH law would have resulted in health-care problems and in the government’s failure to meet development goals.

“Pagdating naman ho sa FOI, meron ho ba kaming itinago sa inyong impormasyon or from anybody? Hindi ba kami napaka-transparent? [When we look at FOI, was there any information we hid from you or from anybody? Were we not very transparent?],” Aquino said.

Article VI, Section 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution empowers the President to certify any bill as urgent “to meet a public calamity or emergency” in order to enable Congress to immediately pass a measure.

The Senate has passed the FOI bill, but the measure is still at the committee level at the House of Representatives.

In the last Congress, it managed to pass the bill on third reading.

The House of Representatives, however, killed the FOI bill on the floor, after more than a year of languishing at the public information committee.

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