FOI an important component in gov’t transparency

Vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. today said debates on the Freedom of Information Bill should start the soonest so a law on the matter could be passed.

Speaking to reporters during his Unity Caravan in Pampanga, Marcos said he is in favor of the passage of an FOI law to address the issue on transparency in government but said since there are different versions of the bill, debates should be conducted to enable lawmakers to come up with a united stand on the provisions of the bill.

“I agree to it in principle but there are many versions in the House of Representatives. We should start debates on it so we can pass a law. Transparency is always better than secrecy,” he said.

The Senate has unanimously passed the FOI in March 2014 but it failed to pass in the Lower House.

Citing lack of time and quorum, leaders in the House of Representatives said they will not be able to act on several legislative measures including the FOI, the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the anti -political dynasty bill among others.

Marcos said while the chances of the bill being passed when Congress resumes after the elections are nil, he is hopeful that it may still hurdle the time constraints in the Lower House.

“I am hoping that it will pass because this is an important measure,” he said.

An FOI law would have allowed active public participation in stamping out corruption in government through easy disclosure of state action.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago had earlier hailed the passage of the bill in the Senate since it included her proposed amendments, such as the mandatory disclosure of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) and the monthly income of top government officials as well as the audited financial statements, and budget and expenditure records of all government agencies.

Under the measure, Filipino citizens will have the right to request and be granted access to records or information under government control, with certain exemptions such as national security, law enforcement operations, among others.

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