Following the heels of calls for greater transparency at the close of the Corona impeachment trial, Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III challenged his fellow legislators to do what the Senate does and move for the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill into law. “It should move at the same pace that the House made former Chief Justice accountable in our impeachment complaint.”
Tañada lauded the developments in the Senate of his priority advocacy, the FOI Bill or House Bill No. 53. Stating that “the issues on transparency and accountability have been the cornerstone of the bill. It was meant to break the shroud of secrecy especially in the context of public governance and leadership.”
“Walang lugar sa ating pamahalaan ang pamumuno ng isang public official o karaniwang empleyado na palaging pinagdududahan dahil walang malinaw na impormasyong nanggagaling sa ating mga ahensya,” Tañada added.
“Ang mga taong hindi bukas sa katotohanan, ito lang ang takot sa pagiging batas ng FOI bill. Panahon nang ipasa ang FOI!” Tañada insisted.
The Senate version of the FOI has been signed by 22 Senators last Monday, and plenary debates commenced afterwards. Meanwhile the draft substitute bill in the House, has been wallowing in the Committee on Public Information since February 2011 under Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, the Committee Chair.
The draft substitute bill, in its current version has been the product of more than one year active consultations with various interest groups, media and broadcast owners, as well as the amendments coming from the Communications Group of the Aquino Administration. The Malacañang version was submitted to the House at the midway through the Corona impeachment trial early this year.
“Sa hinaba-haba man daw ng prusisyon, sa approval din ng FOI ang huling tuntong. Ito ang dapat ang panghawakan ng bawat kinatawan ng ating mamamayan sa Kongreso,” Tañada expounded.
Deputy Speaker Tañada is the principal author of the FOI Bill whose passage was stymied under the previous House leadership allied with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. ###