A crime against the people by the House of Representatives – and by President Benigno S. Aquino III and the ruling Liberal Party.
This was how the Philippine Daily Inquirer described Monday’s aborted hearing on the FOI bill by the House Committee on Public Information in what amounts to the most strongly worded editorial on the FOI by mainstream media.
In its Wednesday editorial entitled “House hypocrites,” the Inquirer decried the “calculated incompetence” of the committee in allowing Rep. Rodolfo Antonino to hijack the hearing to complain about procedural issues. Antonino effectively used up most of the committee’s time, preventing it from discussing the measure itself.
Then, at the stroke of four in the afternoon, Antonino moved to have the hearing adjourned, citing a rule imposed by the House leadership that Congressmen may not skip plenary sessions unless they have special permission from the Rules Committee. Interestingly, the session itself was cancelled later that day because of the absence of a quorum.
In its editorial, the Inquirer said the Aquino administration and the Liberal party should be held at least partly responsible for what happened to the FOI, as the President has effectively taken a hands-off approach on the measure even though he had made it part of his presidential campaign in 2010.
“What happened the other day (or rather, what did not happen) amounts to a crime against the people,” the Inquirer said. “It is a crime in which the Aquino administration and the Liberal Party, which came to power in 2010, are complicit.”
The editorial noted how the administration coalition in the House could run with “enviable efficiency when it wants to,” or when the President gives clear marching orders. Palace spokesmen the other day said that the President was taking a hands-off policy on the FOI now that the measure was being deliberated on by Congress.
“The House leadership and the administration it works closely with, do not want the FOI cause to advance,” the editorial stated.