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MANILA – House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III on Monday pushed anew for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, which seeks to provide the public access to government documents, as this is the essence of true freedom.
“It’s about time that we fully actualize and realize the freedom that we want by enacting FOI into law,” Tanada, one of the bill's authors, said in a statement on the even of the country’s Independence Day.
“True freedom nowadays cannot be just confined in a physical space. Giving people knowledge of what goes on inside a system managed by mandated public servants should now qualify as part of those which make us genuinely free,” he said.
The FOI has languished at the House Committee on Public Information for two years. The bill came close to ratification during the 14th Congress if not for the absence of a quorum on the last day of session.
“Independence is not complete if we do not have freedom of information placed within government to ensure accountability and transparency among public officials,” Tanada said.
“At this day and age, oppressors come in many forms. Most prevalent though are the various forms of corruption, which further worsens the conditions of our impoverished brothers and sisters,” he added.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. earlier said he had tasked the committee to come up with a report on the bill.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, who chairs the committee, said they would tackle the bill when the session resumes in July. He said at least two more hearings are required to consolidate the 15 bills on FOI pending before the committee.