FOI bill takes top spot in Senate's priority bills

September 3, 2013 9:11 am 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Sept. 2 (PNA) – Expect the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) to hurdle the Senate after majority of its members agreed to put on top of their priority bills set to be passed in the first 100 days of the current 16th Congress.

Senate President Franklin Drilon on Monday said he asked the Senator Grace Poe, Senate committee on public information and mass media head, to speed up the committee hearings on the proposed measure.

”The committee report will be prepared after one or two weeks. We intend to debate on that before we adjourn (on Sept. 28),” Drilon said in a media interview.

The FOI bill is expected to face no big challenge in the Senate as senators filed respective versions of the measure.

Among the senators who either filed or re-filed the FOI bill are Senators Teofisto Guingona III, Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Alan Cayetano, Francis Escudero and two neophytes Grace Poe and Sonny Angara.

The FOI bill reached the bicameral conference committee in the 14th Congress and the Senate has actually ratified the bicam report but the House of Representatives failed to do its part due to lack of quorum.

Some of the provisions of the bill are to mandate all government agencies to disclose information on public interest transactions, documents or records, and provide other information as requested by the public.

Government agencies will be required to disclose, through posting in their respective bulletin boards and official websites, transactions such as contracts with the private sector, procurement contracts, loans, grants and other programs entered into by government agencies with other entities, private organizations or foreign institutions.

Also, under the bill, the following officials are mandated to disclose through the websites of their respective offices the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN) on an annual basis: the President; the Vice- President; the Members of the Cabinet; the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives; the Justices of the Supreme Court; the Commissioners of the constitutional commissions and other constitutional offices; and the officers of the Armed Forces with the rank of general or the equivalent flag rank.

Other priority bills on top of the Senate list are the Sangguniang Kabataan election. (PNA)

CTB/JFM

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