EASTERN SAMAR Represenative and House committee on public information chairman Ben Evardone denied saying that President Aquino and the ruling Liberal Party were not giving priority to the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, resulting in the bill’s failure to make any headway in his committee.
In a report published in the Tribune, Evardone even accused the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) of taking his words “out of context.”
“The PCIJ twisted my statements. I was quoted out of context. I did not and will not blame Aquino and the LP on FOI,” Evardone told the Tribune reporter through SMS. “That story is baseless.”
The Tribune report may be read here.
In a September 3 post in the PCIJ blog, Evardone was quoted as having told television anchor Ted Failon that one of the reasons why the FOI bill remained in limbo was because the measure was not given any priority by President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Liberal Party. The blog post quoted from the August 25 episode of Failon Ngayon, which is aired on ABS-CBN. The PCIJ blog post may be read here.
In the interest of fairness and clarity, the PCIJ transcribed a portion of the Failon Ngayon episode last August 25. Readers may judge for themselves whether the PCIJ quoted Rep. Evardone out of context.
TED FAILON VOICE OVER: Sa ilalim ng Right of Reply, pinpapayagan ang nirereklamong indibidwal o tanggapan na magkaroon ng parehong oras at espasyo sa media, kapantay ng ibinigay sa mga bumabatikos at kumwekwestyon sa kanila.
BEN EVARDONE: Yung pinakamainit yungRight of Reply. Medyo masalimuot ang safeguards sa possible abuse under the FOI bill.
FAILON VOICE: Ayon pa kay Congressman Evardone, nais lang niyang tiyakin na hindi maaabuso ang batas ng FOI. Hindi naman daw hinahadlangan ni Cong ang pagsasabatas ng Freedom of Information bill.
EVARDONE: Hindi naman ako ang pumipigil ng personal. Ako nga, matagal ko na gustong ilabas sa commtitee ko dahil ang nga ang nabubugbog sa media. Dati pa akong taga media. Hindi naman pwedeng ako lang ang mag decide niyan. Syempre ito pang issue napaka sensitibo, napaka controversial… At hindi naman priority ng ating Pangulo, kasi wala duon sa legislative agenda na sinubmit sa atin, wala duon sa SONA, although binanggit ng aming Speaker na isa yan sa mga kumbaga dapat bigyan ng priority.
FAILON VOICE: Sinubukan naming kunin ang panig ni Speaker Sonny Belmonte sa isyung ito pero mukhang masyadong busy si Speaker para kami ay mapaunlakan ng isang panayam.
Teka teka para mas maintindihan natin kung bakit naiipit ang FOI bill, let us all connect the dots again.
Liberal Party si Tanada. Partido Liberal si Evardone. Ganuon din si Belmonte, ang kanilang pinuno. At syempre, si PNoy, liberal na liberal.
Magkakapartido pala naman kayo! So nasaan ang problema? Este, sino ang problema? Este, what’s the problem?
EVARDONE: But there is no party stand. Is there a party stand of the Liberal Party? There is none! If there is a party stand of the Liberal Party, no problem ako, I toe the line.
The entire Failon Ngayon episode may be viewed through several third party websites such as this one.