The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III is not disheartened by President Benigno Aquino III’s failure to mention the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), saying that its passage still depends on Congress.
“I’m still hopeful, the Speaker and the Senate President mentioned it, all they need to do is to exercise their political will in Congress,” Tanada said.
“It would really be in the hands of both chambers of Congress,” he said of its passage.
The landmark bill is seen as a “potent weapon” against corruption as it would enhance tranparency in government by giving people access to information such as government transactions, researches used in policy-making, and other relevant data.
In their respective speeches during Monday’s opening of session, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. highlighted the measure as among the priorities that both chambers intend to tackle.
The President, however, was silent on the bill in his SONA.
Tanada had said that the public information committee is set to vote on the bill on August 7.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone said several lawmakers want to insert a provision in the bill to guarantee the right of the people, including politicians, to air their side, especially if aggrieved in the media.
He said his committee is open to incorporating such provision in the bill so that a proposed committee report could be readied for voting by the members.
Evardone stressed the need to strike a balancing act among the members of the committee, to ensure that the report would get the needed votes to hurdle the committee level.