Malacañang bent on passing FOI bill

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Malacañang is bent on seeing the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill passed by Congress before President Benigno Aquino 3rd bows out of office next year, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Sunday.

“We have given our inputs to Congress. Senate has passed its version. The House needs to pass a counterpart measure so that there can be an FOI law,” Coloma said in a text message to The Manila Times.

He said the FOI bill is among the priority measures being pushed by the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) under Secretary Manuel Mamba.

The other “priorities” include the Whistleblowers Protection Act and the strengthening of the Witness Protection Program, the Act Protecting the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, and the proposal to make alienable and disposable lands in Bantayan Island in Cebu province so that it can be used as resettlement site for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.


“This year, the Executive will continue to coordinate and cooperate with Congress in order to push the passage of programs, projects and principles that seek to boost the economy, improve trade, broaden and make more effective public service and protection like housing and education, national security and peace and order,” Coloma said over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

Citing Mamba, he said they expect 18 out of the 29 priority legislative agenda of Aquino already submitted to Congress will be passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, which will resume sessions on January 19.

Also on top of the priority list is the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that will pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro Transitional Assembly and the holding of the election of officials of the new Bangsamoro Political Entity.

Priority measures related to the economy include the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), Road Right of Way for infrastructure projects, the proposed Cabotage Law, Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives, Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime, Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act, Antitrust Act, National Land Use Act, and the Strategic Trade Management Act.

Coloma was optimistic that the FOI law and other important legislations may be Aquino’s “parting gift” to the people.

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  1. After the failure of passage of the FOI Bill in the 14th and 15th Congress, it appears that the only sure way for its passage in the 16th Congress is for Pres. Aquino to certify the FOI Bill as urgent.The FOI Bill has to be passed before the March 20,2015 adjournment of Congress because it is said that the legislative branch will be concerned with the upcoming 2016 election and the annual spending bill. Time is the essence.