MANILA - For Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, the Freedom of Information bill President Aquino wants enacted enshrines executive privilege-which was invoked by President Arroyo in the controversial Executive Order 464.
Colmenares cited that executive privilege is among the exceptions cited by the proposed FOI pending in the Lower House.
The House version is essentially the Malacañang version of the FOI, he said.
"Anong klaseng information makuha ng media? That's why nilalaban namin para tayong bumalik sa dating administrasyon…I hope hindi papasa ito."
The Makabayan bloc withdrew as co-authors of the FOI version in the Lower House, which has many exemptions.
The passage of the FOI was skipped by President Aquino in his final State of the Nation Address but was mentioned in the budget call sent to Congress on Tuesday.
"To ensure the permanency of transparency policies, we urge Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Act,'' Aquino said in his message to Congress on the 2016 national budget.
FOI advocate, Rep. Leni Robredo, nonetheless lauded the president's budget call.
In a statement, Robredo said, "I thank the President for including FOI as one of this administration's urgently needed bills. I am hopeful that this measure will be passed before the end of the 16th Congress.
''I also call on my fellow legislators to continue supporting and pushing for the FOI bill which has been pending in Congress since the 8th Congress. Passage of this law is in line with the President's call during his State of the Nation Address - "Simula pa lang ito". An FOI law will ensure that the Philippines will have an accountable and transparent government years after our terms have expired. ''