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Activists demanding that Congress ratify the Freedom of Information bill

Information bill failure a ’shameless betrayal’ reporter, Manila

June 07 2010

A bishop has criticised the Philippine Congress’s failure to  pass the Freedom of Information bill during its last session.

Lawmakers failed to put public interest ahead of their own, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said on June 6.

"This Congress lost the honor to bequeath a landmark for our democracy," he said in a statement posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) website.

The failure of Congress to pass the bill on June 4 was a "shameless betrayal," said Father Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace.

The priest said he is united with the people in mourning for the lost opportunity to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions.

The House of Representatives failed to muster a quorum to ratify the bill during its last session.

Had the bill been ratified and enacted into law, it would have required government agencies to make available to the public all information pertaining to official acts, transactions and government research data.

Meanwhile, president-apparent Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said his administration would work for the passage of the bill in the next Congress.

Aquino, a senator, signed a Senate resolution recently that urged the House of Representatives to pass the bill.

"I support [the bill] in principle. [I am] studying how to move it forward," Aquino told reporters.

Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Juan Miguel Zubiri also vowed to re-file the bill and make it a priority of the next Congress that will convene in July.

Related report
Information bill fails despite Church backing