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Freedom of information bill stalled

Anger as bill goes back to square one

Freedom of information bill stalled
Supporters of the FOI bill urged the government to pass it before Wednesday reporter, Manila

February 6, 2013

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Press freedom advocates and the media on Wednesday warned of the “death” of a freedom of information bill as the current Congress session ended, effectively sending the legislation back to square one.

A key pledge by President Benigno Aquino before he took office, the bill passed the Senate last year but remained stuck in the House of Representatives as Congress closed on Wednesday for the start of the campaign period for mid-term elections set for May.

When Congress reconvenes in July with new legislators, the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill will have to start the process of passage from the start.

More than one hundred groups and individuals in support of the bill accused Aquino and Congress of having “turned a deaf ear.”

During a press conference in Manila, the group vowed to keep fighting for the full disclosure from government departments on matters of public interest, which the bill is designed to enforce.

“Our peoples’ right to information… provides greater opportunity for their participation in good governance,” Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the bishops’ National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace and a supporter of the bill, said at the press conference.

Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo Tanada, the bill’s principal author, said he would continue to push for the bill even if he was no longer a congressman come July.

“We live to fight another day. We will not eulogize and bury the FOI Bill because it will be resurrected in the next Congress,” he said.

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