MANILA - The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill is not among the priority legislation for approval by the lower House before the first regular session of the 16th Congress adjourns on June 13.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., in a press statement Tuesday, identified 14 "vital pieces of legislation" that they want fast-tracked within the remaining session days of their first regular session.
The 14 measures and their current legislative status include:
1) Extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways (HB 4089) – approved on 3rd reading by the lower House and pending with the committee in the Senate;
2) Mandating Telecommunications Service Providers to send free mobile alerts in the event of natural and man-made disasters and calamities (HB 353) – approved by the lower House on 3rd reading and approved on 3rd reading by the Senate last Monday;
3) Amendments to the Sandiganbayan Law – for Committee Report preparation in the lower House , and period of interpellations in the Senate;
4) Sangguniang Kabataan Reform – for committee deliberation in the House and pending in a Senate committee;
5) Ladderized Education Program (post secondary) (HB 3575) – Approved on 3rd reading by the House, and pending in appropriate Senate committee;
6) Providing for an Open High School System for out of school youth (HB 4085) – approved on 3rd reading by the House, and pending in committee in the Senate;
7) Open Learning through Distance Education in Post Secondary and Tertiary Levels Act – For House Committee Report preparation, and pending in Senate committee;
8) National Student Loan Program (UNIFAST) Act – Substitute bill referred to the House Appropriations Committee, pending with appropriate panel in the Senate;
9) Special Education Center – Substitute bill referred to the House Appropriations Committee, also pending in appropriate Senate panel;
10) Iskolar ng Bayan Act – Pending in Committee (House), and also pending in a Senate committee;
11) Providing for mandatory PhilHealth coverage for all senior citizens – Pending with the proper committee in the House, also pending in concerned panel in the Senate;
12) Picture Based health Warning Law – Pending in concerned committees in the House and in the period of interpellations in the Senate;
13) Strengthening the Anti-Illegal Drugs Law (HB 2285) – approved on 3rd reading by the House, and pending in committee in the Senate; and
14) Fisheries Code amendment – Now under study by a technical working group (TWG) in the House, and pending in committee in the Senate.
Belmonte said the House on Monday also approved on 3rd and final reading 11 other important bills covering volunteerism, rules on the use and display of national symbols and the national anthem, consumer protection, and declaration of special days for international students and Philippine press freedom.
“There are various legislative measures which really need to be given appropriate action, but we have to prioritize what could be listed as common concerns within a limited time frame,” he said in a statement.
Belmonte earlier claimed that he is "willing to be executed" if the 16th Congress ends without passing the FOI bill.
The Senate has already passed on 3rd and final reading its version of the FOI bill.
A House technical working group has been stuck with consolidating various versions of the bill.