Citizens' group files 'People's FOI bill'

MANILA, Philippines - FOI advocates are using a new strategy this upcoming Congress, so they ensure the proposal is taken up ahead of other bills.

Angela Casauay reports.

It’s a tradition.Representatives file their bills on the first day of Congress.
A day before the actual filing, a citizens’ group lines up.

ANNE TRAJANO
CO-CONVENOR, FOI YOUTH INITIATIVE
Ginagawa namin itong pagpila kasi naging tradisyon sa Kongreso na pumipila yung mga staff ng legislators para mauna na ipasa ang bill at therefore, mauna na mapag-usapan. (We are lining up because it has become a tradition in Congress for the staff of legislators to line up to file their bills, therefore, so it can be the first bills to be tackled.)

They are members of the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition...
filing their own versión of the Freedom of Information bill through an indirect initiative.
A mechanism under the Constitution allows recognized citizens’ groups to file their own versión of the measure.
Not only that, the law says an indirect initiative shall be taken up ahead of other bills filed in Congress.

ATTY NEPO MALALUAN
CONVENOR, RIGHT TO KNOW. RIGHT NOW! COALITION
The People's FOI bil is a bill that puts flesh into the constitutional guarantee of the people to have access to information.

But on the day of the filing, they are told there's a different process for indirect initiatives and asked to leave the queue.
The group is told to submit their bill directly to the Office of the Secretary-General.

ATTY NEPO MALALUAN
CONVENOR, RIGHT TO KNOW. RIGHT NOW! COALITION
We hope that the Committee on Rules will give it a docket number as far as the petition is concerned and give the initiative bill its docket number as well.

Under the proposed bill, all Filipinos shall have access to information under the control of a government agency.
It fosters transparency by giving access to budgets, contracts, and the assets, liabilities & net worth of public servants.
The success of the so-called ‘People’s FOI Bill’ will serve as a test case for other bills in the future. After a decade of delay, will a people-led FOI bill finally pass in Congress? It’s only Day 1 and the advocates have 3 more years to make it happen. Angela Casauay, Rappler.

- Rappler.com