MANILA, Philippines - The freedom of information bill (FOI) remains in limbo after the Committee on Public Information chaired by Rep. Ben Evardone adjourned a hearing Tuesday without putting the proposed legislation to a vote.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño could only blurt out "Pakshet inajourn!" on Twitter after Evardone's decision.
"It was truly distressing that the Committee on Public Information hearing on the FOI was adjourned today without acting on the measure despite the presence of more than enough votes to pass it," he said.
"The chairperson did not use the presence of a quorum and the favorable numbers to pass the bill. Why? Well, that's better left to the House leadership and Malacañang to explain," he added.
Another lawmaker, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, said on Twitter also on Tuesday that some of their colleagues who are opposing the FOI bill were delaying the committee hearing on another bill to stonewall FOI discussions.
"FOI bill now facing difficult waters in the Committee on Public Information Now I'm really really upset," Casiño said. "FOI opponents want the hearing adjourned to give way to plenary session at 4pm. Style bulok."
Another party-list lawmaker, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, sought to break the impasse with a motion to divide the House and vote on consolidated the consolidated FOI bill.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez seconded the motion, but Evardone said he cannot allow it as there are still issues that need to be discussed.
Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino then filed a motion to adjourn the committee hearing, saying they have run out of time.
"I have to give it to Rep. Antonino, he does what he does best. Kainis," Casiño said in reaction.
Evardone then ruled to adjourn the hearing and set the next meeting is on November 27.
Casiño believes that the delays in passing the FOI bill are deliberate.
"Obviously, the House leadership continues to be lukewarm to the FOI bill just like the executive branch. What we saw today was a kind of incompetence that could have only been deliberate," he said.
"I fear that the FOI bill is doomed but we shall continue to fight for it," he added.