THE Freedom of Information (FOI) bill may have a chance of being passed during the 16th Congress after leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives agreed to include the measure on the list of priority bills during its last regular session.
Speaking during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum on Thursday, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the leadership of Senate and the House agreed to give the highest priority to six measures— FOI, the Bangsamoro Basic Law; 2016 National Budget; creation of the Department of Information, Communication and Technology; a measure that will amend the build-operate-and-transfer law; Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and the bill that seeks to modernize the Philippine Astronomical and Geophysical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) modernization.
Last year, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1733 or the People’s freedom of information, sponsored by Senator Grace Poe, the chair of the Senate Committee on public information and mass media.
The bill seeks to eliminate corruption in the bureaucracy by opening government transactions to the public and holding government officials accountable for their actions.
Under Senate Bill 1733, the public will have the right to request and be granted access to records or information that is under the control of government.
Government officials are required to act on the request for information within 15 working days or face administrative and disciplinary sanction including one month to six months imprisonment and a fine ranging from P10,000 to P100,000.
The FOI version at the House remains pending on the second reading, but with the bill’s inclusion on the priority list, there is a big chance that it will be passed by congress and enacted by the President.