Drilon: Senate committed to pass FOI bill

By Marvin Sy, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 22 2014 02:35 AM | Updated as of Jan 22 2014 10:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Even without the support of Malacanang, the Senate is committed to pass the freedom of information (FOI) bill as a priority measure.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said that the FOI bill is among the legislation that the chamber has lined up as its priorities, alongside measures addressing corruption in the country.

“We will really push for the passage of the FOI bill and the measures that would address the corruption issue like the very slow process of the Sandiganbayan,” Drilon said.

Drilon has supported the passage of the FOI bill as a demonstration of the Senate’s commitment to the anti-corruption and reformist agenda of the administration.

Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, said that the debates on the FOI bill would resume on Jan. 27.

She also expressed confidence that the bill would be approved on third and final reading at the Senate before it adjourns in March.

“We will resume plenary debates on Jan. 27, confident that by the end of March or the first quarter of this year, we will be able to pass this measure at the Senate,” she said.

Poe also said that she intends to push forward an FOI bill that is reliable and meaningful to the people.

“Our citizens must know what the government is undertaking on their behalf. This will not only deter graft and corruption but will also empower them to actively participate in governance,” she added.

Drilon said the possible amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) would also be taken up in the Senate to protect the interests of consumers.

He said the results of the hearings of the committee on energy on the rate hike of Meralco would provide the Senate with information about the defects of the EPIRA.