LEGAZPI CITY (Oct. 26, 2011/PNA) – Deputy House Speaker and Quezon Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III said on Wednesday that the much awaited Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill will be passed into law next year.
Tanada was confident that the FOI bill, once approved by the Senate and House Bicameral Committee, would subsequently be signed by President Benigno Aquino III into law next year.
Tanada, who is also the Liberal Party spokesperson at a press conference here, said Aquino considerws the FOI as an important piece of legislation that he would wanted to be enacted during his term.
He said Aquino, when he was Senator was among the lawmakers who supported the bill.
The Quezon 4th district solon said he was among the principal sponsor of the Freedom of Information Act during the 14th Congress where the bill had been endorsed at the Congress Bicameral Committee for deliberation and approval, but the bill was overtaken by events with the holding of the Presidential and National election on 2010.
Tanada said the bill was one step away from passage, but the House of Representatives did not deliver as its last session day before going on recess for the May 10 elections.
Tanada said he was strongly pushing for the ratification of the bill on the last session day, but the House session was immediately adjourned because of lack of quorum. Only 91 congressmen were present, short of the needed 135 congressmen for a quorum.
During the 14th Congress the lower House failed to ratify the bill, putting to waste all the efforts put in by its advocates who said the bill would allow ordinary citizens access to information of public concern from all branches of government.
In the 15th Congress the FOI bill was set to be approved by the House Committee on Information chaired by Samar Rep. Ben Evardone while in the Senate a Technical Working Group (TWG) was formed to further study salient provision of the bill.
Tanada said one critical provision being studied by both houses was the proposal of the Aquino administration to exempt from the FOI act issues concerning “national security.”
The FOI, once passed, government agencies shall make available to the public for scrutiny, copying and reproduction of all information pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as government research data used as basis for policy development. (PNA)