• SONA again silent on FOI bill

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) disappointed some lawmakers because it was silent on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

    Aquino also did not mention the measure in his 2014 SONA.

    “Akala ko babanggitin na e, [I thought it would be mentioned]. But, hopefully even without the President’s explicit endorsement, we will still pass it kasi sinabi naman ni Speaker [because Speaker said]that it will be passed before the 16th Congress ends,” Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez of Akbayan party-list told reporters.

    In his remarks during the opening of the third and last regular session of the 16th Congress on Monday, Speaker Feliciano Bel¬monte Jr. expressed hopes that several priority measures will be passed, including the FOI.

    The measure, which has long been pending in Congress, aims to provide citizens access to information on official acts, transactions or decisions.

    Rep. Tobias Tiangco of Navotas, the president of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), was also disappointed because the President did not mention the FOI bill.

    “The SONA is not about who is mentioned, who is not mentioned. It should be more be about kung ano ba talaga ang dapat pa naming gawin sa natitirang termino namin di ba (what we still have to do with our remaining term]. That is why he was invited by Congress so we could hear what the priority bills are, and he mentioned some but I was disappointed, it would have been better if FOI was included,” Tiangco said.

    Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) Party-list, who said his party expected Aquino to say something about his promise of an FOI law before his term ends, told The Manila Times that Aquino made up by endorsing the anti-dynasty measure.

    However, he admitted that there would be more “push” to the FOI bill had the President mentioned it in his SONA.

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