MANILA – The chairman of the House committee on public information said that there is 80 percent chance of passing the Freedon of Information (FOI) bill in the 16th Congress.
Rep. Jorge Almonte said the bill, which has been pending for 27 years in the legislative mill, is a priority of the Aquino administration.
The congressman noted this, despite the fact that the bill was not classified as urgent by President Aquino.
“I’d like to announce it to the public that I am 80 percent sure that we can fashion out an FOI bill in the 16th Congress,” Almonte said in a taped interview shown at a town hall meeting at the University of the Philippines yesterday.
The lawmaker who has earlier expressed his support for the bill said that despite the criticisms raised against the Aquino government for the bill’s snail-paced passage, it is still among the top priorities pending in the House of Representatives.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Belo, who remains doubtful with the probability of the bill’s passage said he is still waiting for an “evident, empirical and tangible” proof that Malacañang and the House leadership will really support the bill.
“We have the formal commitment of the House leadership. I respect that. We have word from Malacañang that this is a bill that they support,” he said. “But (as the saying goes) the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” Bello said in a report for the Philippine Star.
Sen. Grace Poe who is also an advocate of the bill’s passage said that the bill is not an “idealist type of law,” adding that it is practically a bill that everyone can use.
Poe, who also led the passage of the bill’s Senate version, assured the lawmakers that the senate has already extensively discussed the controversial issues surrounding the bill, saying that “FOI will not be a tool for harassment.”