How solons try to speed up FOI deliberations

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2014 04:21 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2014 12:21 AM

MANILA - Authors of some versions of the Freedom of Information bill in the House of Representatives have expedited the consolidation of their bills into one measure.

Paranaque Rep. Gus Tambunting and Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene Bag-ao today revealed that the authors have been meeting informally to consolidate the bills ahead of the first formal meeting of the technical working group (TWG) called for that purpose on Thursday.

The TWG is supposed to present a consolidated bill for the approval of the mother committee, the Public Information Committee. Once approved, the consolidated bill will be reported to the House plenary for its deliberations.

Bag-ao admitted some of the authors of the FOI bill find the proceedings at the committee level slow. The TWG was created last year.

Bag-ao said the informal discussions helped limit the contentious issues.

Both lawmakers, who have their own FOI Bills, dismissed questions on the possibility of replacing Chairman Jorge Almonte, who is perceived to be dragging his feet on the bill.

Bag-ao, however, said that the various authors are going to make it felt that the passage of the bill cannot be delayed. This, after pronouncements by House Speaker Sonny Belmonte that the FOI is not the top priority of the House.

"We will make this a priority," the lawmaker said.

Bag ao also maintained they continue to communicate with the executive for its support for the measure especially once a consolidated bill is approved and presented by the committee.