August 7, 2012 · Posted in: General
HOUSE COMMITTEE on public information chairman Rep. Ben Evardone rejected charges that he was sitting on the pending Freedom of Information bill, saying the House leadership was the one responsible for the cancellation of the committee hearing earlier scheduled for today August 7.
Evardona sent the statement through a text message to Congress reporters, according to the Philippine Star. Evardone’s statement comes just a day after pro-FOI congressmen criticized Evardone’s failure to act on the FOI measure, and called on Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to step in and save the FOI from perpetual hibernation.
The Star quoted Evardone as saying that the House leadership wants the FOI bill taken up in a “caucus of members of the majority coalition.”
Evardone added that there were still several issues that have to be resolved by the committee, including a proposal by Rep. Rodolfo Antonino to insert a Right to Reply provision in the FOI.
The Philippine Star story may be read here.
Pro-FOI legislators represented by Lorenzo Tanada III and Walden Bello held a press conference at the House of Representatives on Monday to press Evardone to act on the measure and to declare that the FOI had a significant backing in the lower chamber.
Bello and Tanada said that there was more than enough support in the lower chamber to push the measure through the legislative mill, says a news report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The two legislators said this debunks Evardone’s claim that there were still too many issues that remain unresolved.
To prove their point, the two congressmen showed a copy of a full-page advertisement signed by at least 117 congressmen expressing support for the passage of the FOI, according to reports published by The Philippine Star and GMANewsTV. The statement of support was signed by five of the six deputy speakers of the chamber, as well as by two of the vice chairmen of the House committee on public information, and 19 of the 26 members of the committee, according to Bello.