Malacañang prefers public to exert pressure on passage of FOI Bill

March 12, 2014 10:26 am 

MANILA, March 11 — Out of respect for the principle of separation of powers, Malacañang on Tuesday said it would rather that the pressure to have the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill passed by the members of the 16th Congress come from the public than President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. clarified though that this position does not mean the administration is no longer keen on having this legislative measure enacted under President Aquino’s term.

“Sa tingin namin, mas magiging epektibo if the pressure will come from the citizens themselves because these are legislators who were elected by the people and they are accountable to their constituents that put them in power,” Coloma explained during a press briefing.

The clamor for President Aquino to have an active role on the ratification of the FOI Bill, that was among his campaign promises, was made prominent again after administration Senator Grace Poe recently passed on third reading the Upper House’s version of the said legislation.

Coloma, however, reiterated that President Aquino is only being "circumspect" in exercising his privilege to certify a bill as urgent.

“In fact, the commitment has already been fulfilled in actual government practice, at nakikita naman natin ito sa lahat ng larangan,” he said.

The Palace official stressed that even if the FOI Bill is yet to become a law, the Aquino administration has already concretized the principles of openness, transparency, full disclosure, and accountability of public officials, which are also being espoused by the proposed measure.

“Ang concern lang ng stakeholders ay paano na ‘pag nagpalit na ng administrasyon? Kaya nga iginigiit nila na kinakailangang magkaroon ng batas. Kaya kaisa naman kami doon sa pagnanasang magkaroon ng batas dahil gusto rin naman nating maging permanente at ma-institutionalize ‘yung mga repormang ‘yan,” Coloma said.

Malacañang said it will continue to support developments on the FOI Bill at the Senate, while it waits for the action of lawmakers at the House of Representatives on their version, hoping that the congressmen would respond positively to the proposed legislation.

“Kaisa tayo ng mga mamamayan sa pagnanasa na maipasa na ito (FOI Bill) at sana’y matupad na ‘yan sa lalong madaling panahon. Wala naman pong ginagawa ang pamahalaan para hadlangan ito. Ang gusto lang po nating maganap ay ‘yung mainam na proseso na kung saan ang mga mamamayan mismo ang magpapahiwatig sa kanilang mga kinatawan,” Coloma said. (PNA)



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