Palace still won't certify FOI bill as urgent

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2013 03:48 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2013 11:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Freedom of Information bill will have to wait after Malacañang said it would prefer to see the FOI bill debated fully regardless of whether it would be passed in the current or in the next Congress.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda pointed out that it took a long while before the reproductive health bill was passed while the sin tax reform measure waited for "15 years."

“Our position is let’s have a debate, a healthy debate on this issue and we’ll take it from there,” Lacierda said, responding to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' pastoral statement.

“We certainly understand the concerns of the FOI advocates but we need to have a healthy debate on this particular issue, as we have seen a healthy debate in the passing of the sin tax law as well as the responsible parenthood law.”

The CBCP earlier urged lawmakers to prioritize the passage of the landmark bill which is seen as essential to transparency in governance.

"We call upon the government to give due priority to the passing of the FOI bill at the soonest possible time," said the CBCP.

"It is ironic that the government that prides itself of treading the Daang Matuwid (straight path) fears the FOI because of possible discovery of wrongdoing by public officials. Why are they afraid to entrust the citizens with the truth of their governance?" the bishops said.