• FOI not among bills in Congress’s priority list

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    LEADERS of Congress on Monday agreed to work on the passage of 16 priority measures before it adjourns Sine Die next month, but the Freedom of Information bill pending at the House of Representatives is not in the list.

    Officials of the Senate and House of Representatives met yesterday morning to discuss bills that will be given priority in the remaining six weeks of the first regular session of the 16th congress.

    Of the 16 measures that will be passed, six are education bills. These include measures providing for an open High School system for out of school youths; open learning through distance education in post-secondary and tertiary levels act; National student loan program; ladderized education program; and the establishment of special education (SPED) centers throughout the country among others.

    These bills are still in the committee level.

    “Both chambers are aware of several pending measures that need urgent legislative action, and it really helps that we hold this regular meeting to ensure the immediate passage of bills of national importance,” said senate president Franklin Drilon.

    Also on the list are the amendments to the Sandiganbayan law to address the backlog in the anti-graft court, picture-based health warning act to help bring down smoking incidence in the country, amendments to the Fisheries Code, and amendments to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

    Congress also vowed to tackle the bills extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways which will expire in June 2014.

    The Senate on Monday already approved on third and final reading the granting of franchise to the Cotabato Light and Power Company and the bill mandating telecommunication companies to send out alerts during disasters.

    But the lower house did not include the FOI bill that aims to promote transparency in government by allowing public to have access to government information.

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