• Palace gets 38,000 signatures for FOI


    Freedom of Information (FOI) advocates on Friday submitted to Malacañang a petition urging President Benigno Aquino 3rs to pass the long-overdue legislation that would strengthen government transparency and accountability.

    Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda received the 3,000-page petition that gathered 38,000 signatures for the swift passage of the measure.

    He held a dialogue with its advocates at the Palace.

    In a news conference, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte reaffirmed the President’s position that an FOI Law will be passed before his term ends in 2016.

    “During the Q&A in the Daylight Dialogue, the President already gave his commitment that FOI will be passed within his term so naging masaya din po ’yung mga advocates doon sa assurance na ‘yun [so the advocates are happy with such assurance],” Valte told reporters
    The petition was started online by the Right to Know, Right Now!

    Coalition through the website Change.org. It reached more than 16,200 online signatures and over 21,900 in written signatures as of Thursday.

    Valte admitted it was the first time the Aquino government received an online petition seeking immediate passage of the FOI bill.

    But she noted that most of the FOI advocates have worked with congressional committees involved in the bill as well as the administration’s Open Government initiative.

    Last March, the Senate approved on third and final reading the FOI bill sponsored by Sen. Grace Poe.

    The bill empowers citizens to have the right to request and be granted access to records or information that are under government control, subject to reasonable exceptions.

    The pending FOI bill will require government officials to act or comply with the request for information within 15 working days.

    But while he supports its passage, Aquino earlier said he cannot certify it as urgent “because the Constitution requires an emergency.”


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