OVER a hundred organizations on Sunday urged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and leaders of Congress to heed one clamor: Certify the Freedom of Information bill as an urgent, priority legislation.
In a statement, the groups that comprise the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, challenged Aquino and Congress leaders to make good on their promise to enact the bill into law in the 15th Congress.
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Information had voted 17-3 on Nov. 27 to approve the report of its technical working group that consolidated 16 various versions of the FOI bill that it had received.
However, committee chairman Rep. Ben Evardone seems inclined to go slow on sending the committee report to the House plenary for debate on the floor. Evardone has scheduled yet another committee meeting on Dec. 11, supposedly for the committee members to sign the report.
The usual practice of Congress is for committee reports to be passed around for signing by committee members, without need for a committee hearing.
Only nine session days remain before the Congress goes on Christmas break on Dec. 22.
The statement of the Coalition follows:
THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION bill (FOI) in the Senate and in the House of Representatives has advanced despite the odds, having passed the respective committees. FOI is now at a critical juncture, which will determine its passage in this 15thCongress.
Given that time is running out in the 15th Congress, we appeal to the Senate and House leadership, as well as to the Executive, to accord its passage the urgency it deserves.
It is within their powers to pass the FOI bill in the 15th Congress despite the time constraint.
The Senators can make good their earlier commitments to pass the FOI bill. They must find time to proceed with interpellation, amendments, and passage on second and third reading before they adjourn for the December break.
In the House of Representatives, the Committee on Rules, through the Majority Leader, is empowered to declare a bill urgent, and to set the number of days or hours to be allotted for the consideration of the bill in plenary, and when vote on the bill shall be taken.
To start the process, we demand that Rep. Evardone gives justice to the 17 members of the House who voted to approve the committee report last November 27, by submitting it to plenary today (Monday, December 3). The House leadership must then include the FOI bill in the Order of Business beginning this week.
On the part of the Executive, President Aquino can certify to the necessity of its immediate enactment, as he did with the Sin Tax Bill. This will place the FOI bill on par with the highest priority measures of Congress, and save it the delay from the interval of days needed in passing bills on second and third readings.
We take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the FOI champions who succeeded in having the committee report approved by the House committee, despite the odds. Principally, we recognize the leadership of Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada and the crucial interventions by Akbayan Reps. Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, CIBAC Reps. Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales and Sherwin Tugna, and Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño.
We also express our heartfelt gratitude for the other regular, deputized and ex-officio members of the Committee on Public Information who answered the call for an affirmative vote on the FOI consolidated bill. They are Cebu 1st District Rep. Rachel Marguerite del Mar, Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Kabataan Rep Raymond Palatino, AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin, Basilan Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano, DIWA Rep. Emmeline Aglipay, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, An Waray Rep. Neil Benedict Montejo, and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo.
In plenary, we appeal to the proponents of the Right of Reply provision to allow the passage of the FOI. We urge them to pursue their Right of Reply advocacy independent of the FOI bill’s passage. Constitutional and public policy issues remain unresolved around the Right of Reply, which should be fully deliberated in the separate measures also filed with Rep. Evardone’s committee, with all the stakeholders consulted extensively.
We will support reasonable amendments to the FOI bill, like the provision on safeguard against abuse proposed by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy. We will likewise support an amendment that will address the concern of the Department of National Defense over the time gap between the repeal of the existing information classification guidelines and the promulgation of the new classification guidelines as provided under the bill.
Beyond this, all that remains for the 15th Congress is the fulfillment of a solemn promise to the people to pass the long-overdue Freedom of Information Act.
1. Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan, Co-Director, Institute for Freedom of Information and Co-Convenor, Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition
2. Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, DD, Chairman, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA)
3.Ms. Malou Mangahas, Executive Director, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
4.Mr. Peter Angelo V. Perfecto, Executive Director, Makati Business Club
5.Ms. Annie Geron, General Secretary, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
6.Prof. Luis Teodoro, Deputy Director, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
7.Mr. Josua Mata, Secretary General, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
8.Ms. Yuen Abana, Campaign Coordinator, Partido ng Manggagawa
9. Ms. Clarissa V. Militante
Coordinator, Focus on the Global South, Philippines Programme
10. Mr. Jun Aguilar nd Mr. Elso Cabangon, Filipino Migrant Workers Group
11. Mr. Max M. De Mesa, Chairperson, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
12.Mr. Ramon R. Tuazon, President
Dr. ?Florangel Rosario-Braid, President Emeritus & Senior Adviser?
Ms. Madeline B. Quiamco, Dean
Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication
13. Atty. Roberto Eugenio Cadiz, Executive Director, Libertás
14.Mr. Alwyn Alburo, Vice Chairman and Ms. Rowena Paraan, Secretary-General, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
15.Prof. Leonor M. Briones, Lead Covenor, Social Watch Philippines
16.Ms. Maxine Tanya Hamada, Executive Director, International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov)
17. Mr. Ariel Sebellino,Executive Director, Philippine Press Institute
18.Dr. Edna A. Co, Professor, University of the Philippines Diliman
19.Mr. Norman Cabrera, Secretary General, Ang Kapatiran Party
Mr. John Carlos G. de los Reyes, Candidate for Senator (2013)
Mr. Rizalito Y. David, Candidate for Senator (2013)
Atty. Marwil Llasos, Candidate for Senator (2013)
Mr. Carlos Cabochan, Candidate for Representative, 2nd District of Caloocan City (2013)
Mr. Harry Tambuatco, Candidate for Representative, Lone district of Muntinlupa city (2013)
Mr. Edilberto M. Cuenca, Candidate for Representative, 1st District of Makati City (2013)
Mr. Frank Reyes, Candidate for Representative, Lone District of Mandaluyong City (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
20.Atty Eirene Jhone Aguila, FOI and New Politics Advocate
21.Ms. Joy Aceron, Program Director, Government Watch/ PODER, Ateneo School of Government
22.Mr. Sixto Donato C. Macasaet, Executive Director, Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO)
23. Ms. Jenina Joy Chavez, Southeast Asia Monitor for Action
24. Mr. Vincent Lazatin, Executive Director, Transparency and Accountability Network
25. Dr. Segundo Romero, Program Director, Ateneo School of Government
26.Mr. Ricardo Reyes, President, Freedom from Debt Coalition
27. Dr. Joseph Anthony Lim, Professor, Economics Department, Ateneo De Manila University
28. Dr. J. Prospero de Vera, Professor, UPNCPAG, and Executive Director, Pimentel Institute for Leadership and Governance
29. Mr. Bong Fabe, Freelance journalist
30.Atty. Risa Halagueña, Fellow, Action for Economic Reforms
31.Sr. Cres Lucero, SFIC, Co-Chairperson and Mr. Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
32.Atty. Corazon Valdez Fabros, Lead Convenor, Stop the War Coalition Philippines
33.Ms. Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, National Coordinator
Ms. Mercy Fabros, Advocacy and Campaign Coordinator
Ms. May-i Fabros, Coordinator of Young Women Collective
Ms. Rosheic Sims, Assistant Coordinator of Young Women Collective
34. Mr. Rolando Ocampo, Spokesperson, Prudentialife Warriors/Movement for Change and Good Governance
35.Ms. Cielo Magno, Coordinator, Bantay Kita
36.Mr.Red Batario, Executive Director, Ms. G. Sevilla Alvarez, Program Director, Center for Community Journalism and Development
37. Mr. Isagani R. Serrano, President, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
38. Dr. Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, Director, University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies.
39. Ms. Jessica Reyes-Cantos, Lead Convenor, Rice Watch and Action Network
40. Ms. Ellene Sana, Executive Director, Center for Migrant Advocacy
41. Mr. Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
42. Mr. Jong Pacanot, Secretary General, Freedom from Debt Coalition – Southern Mindanao
43. Ms. Evita L. Jimenez, Executive Director, Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
44. Ms. Andrea Maria Patricia Sarenas, Chairperson, Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE)
45.Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ, Ehem Anticorruption Program
46.Mr. Jason Alacapa, Chairperson, University Student Council (UPM USC), UP Manila
47. Ms. Jean Enriquez, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific
48. Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan, Executive Director, PhilRights
49. Atty. Ray Paolo J. Santiago, Executive Director, Ateneo Human Rights Center
50. Ms. Zenaida S. Mique, Executive Director, Claimants 1081
51. Sr. Nelda L. Balaba, OND, Program Coordinator, Justice and Peace Desk – Social Action Center, Diocese of Marbel
52. Ms. Marjorie Anne Yoro, Suprema, UP Kabataang Pilosopo Tasyo (KaPiTas), UP Diliman
53. Ms. Moses Albiento, Chairperson, Alliance of Student Leaders (ASL), Ateneo de Manila University
54. Mr. Joseph Angelo Gutierrez, Chairperson, Movement of Students for Progressive Leadership in UP (MOVE UP), UP Los Baños
55. Mr. Tristan Daine Zinampan, Chairperson, Linking Everyone Towards Service CDC (LETS CDC), College of Development Communication, UP Los Baños
56. Ms. Mary Ann Fuertes, Executive Director, Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (Davao City)
57. Atty. Arvin A. Jo, Focal Person, The Access Initiative – Philippines
58. Ms. April Lamentillo, Supremo, Sandigan ng mga Iskolar para sa Nagkakaisang CAS (SINAG CAS), College of Arts and Sciences, UP Los Baños
59. Mr. Curt Russel Lopez Delfin, President, Metro Manila Alliance of Communication Students (MACS)
60. Mr. John Mark Salvador, President, Bagong Benilde, De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde
61. Mr. Van Battad, President, UP Sirkulo ng mga Kabataang Artista (SIKAT), UP Diliman
62. Ms. Luisa Lioanag, Bos Tsip-Tsip, UP Bukluran sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Buklod-Isip), UP Diliman
63. Ms. Starjoan Villanueva, Executive Director, Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao
64. Mr. Joseph Purugganan, Coordinator, EU-ASEAN FTA Network
65.Ms. Patricza Torio, Tagapangulo, UP Lipunang Pangkasaysayan (LIKAS), UP Diliman
66. Ms. Marian Bahalla, Chairperson, Laban COC Party, College of Communication, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
67. Mr. Arjay Mercado, President, UP Economics Towards Consciousness (ETC), UP Diliman
68. Mr. Joshua Layog, Primer, Katipunan CHE, College of Human Ecology, UP Los Baños
69. Ms. Ema Escanilla, Speaker, UP People-Oriented Leadership in the Interest of Community Awareness (UP POLITICA), UP Diliman
70. Mr. Edward Dayog, President, UP Organization of Human Rights Advocates (OHRA), UP Diliman
71. Mr. JC Tejano, National Chairperson, Bukluran ng mga Progresibong Iskolar – UP System (BUKLURAN – UP SYSTEM)
72. Ms. Ara Tan, President, UP Kalipunan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Sosyolohiya (KMS), UP Diliman
73. Mr. Ace Ligsay, Chairperson, UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA), UP Diliman
74. Mr. Mickey Eva, President, Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW Coalition)
75. Mr. Carlo Brolagda, Chairperson and Mr. Chris Alquizalas, Councilor, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (CSSPSC), UP Diliman / Convenors, FOI Youth Initiative (FYI)
76. Mr. Joshua Young, Chairperson, Bigkis ng mga Iskolar Para sa Bayan Tungo sa Makabuluhang Pagbabago – UPM (BIGKIS-UPM), UP Manila
77. Mr. Viko Fumar, President, BUKLOD CSSP, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, UP Diliman
78. Julliano Fernando A. Guiang, Councilor, University Student Council, UP Diliman, and Convenor, Disclose All Records (DARe) Movement
79. Mr. Deg Daupan, President, Alternatibong Katipunan ng mga Mag-aaral (AKMA), UP Baguio
80. Mr. Walter Tamayo, History Department Representative, AngKAS (CSSP History Department Core Group), UP Diliman
81. Mr. Gio Alejo, President, Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Manila University
82. Mr. Jose Valencia, President, KASAPI Kaisahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Gresya
83.Mr. Lejun Dela Cruz, Acting Chairperson, Alab Katipunan
84. Aurora A. Regalado, Managing Trustee, Management and Organizational Development for Empowerment (MODE)
85.Mr. Renato Dela Cruz, President, Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
86. Mr. Walter Balane, President, Bukidnon Press Club
87. Ms. Sylvia Paraguya, Chief Executive, National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO)
88. Mr. Pete Pinlac, Chairperson, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya
89. Mr. Pablo Rosales, Chairperson, Progresibong Alyansa ng mga Mangingisda
90. Mr. Boy Alban, Chairperson, League of Urban Poor for Action
91. Mr. Jun Pascual, Acting Chairperson, Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid
92. Ms. Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director, Medical Action Group
93. Dr. Renato G. Mabunga,Chairperson, Human Rights Defenders – Pilipinas
94. Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Coordinating Committee Member, Faith-based Congress Against Immoral Debts
95. Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, Co-chairperson, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines
96. Mr. Acmad Maruhom-Macatimbol, Executive Director, Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
97. Ms. Jennifer Julia Lacaba, President, Animal Concerns and Awareness Club (AC2), University of the Philippines – Visayas Tacloban College
98. Mr. Xander Losaria, Secretary General, SENTRO – La Salle, De La Salle University – Dasmariñas
99. Mr. Wilson Fortaleza, Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay
100. Prof. Flordeliz L. Abanto, Broadcast Journalism Coordinator, St. Scholastica’s College, Manila
101.Prof. Nelson J. Celis, AES (Automated Election System) Watch
102.Prof. Angelina E. Borican, Journalism Professor, College of Communications, Polytechnic University of the Philippines