Aquino: FOI bill to pass under my term

ASSURANCE. President Benigno Aquino III at the Daylight Dialogue in Malacau00f1ang. Malacau00f1ang photo bureauphoto bureau

ASSURANCE. President Benigno Aquino III at the Daylight Dialogue in Malacau00f1ang.

Malacau00f1ang photo bureauphoto bureau

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III assured the public that the Freedom of Information Bill would pass before the end of his term.

In the open forum at the Daylight Dialogue at the Palace Rizal Hall on Tuesday, July 15, the President conceded that although he would not be marking the bill as urgent, he was confident it would become law by the time he steps down in 2016.

“I regret I cannot certify it as urgent because the Constitution requires an emergency,” said the President, “but the assurance I think should be given, at this point in time, that it will be passed before the end of my term.”

The President said this in response to a question from Makati Business Club Chairman Ramon Del Rosario, who asked for the president’s word that the bill would be passed before the end of Aquino's term.

Malacañang earlier said the Aquino administration is committed to pass the FOI bill by 2015.

The bill, already approved on third reading by the Senate, is meant to require government to make data, transactions and other documents available to the public. Information will include among others statements of politicians’ assets and liabilities, government contracts and the state of the national debt.

Advocates for the bill launched an online signature campaign in May this year. 

The presence of such laws is used as an international benchmark for a government’s transparency and accountability.

Aquino said he “joined” Del Rosario’s cause, as “somebody who was frustrated in the search for information previously, especially when I was in the legislature.”

The President agreed there was a need for the FOI bill, adding that his administration had already suggested that Congress make “certain amendments of the proposed measures” to make the bill “really a doable activity for government.”  

The bill still remains at committee level in the House of Representatives. – Rappler.com