GROUPS pushing for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill march to Mendiola Monday afternoon to ask President Benigno S. Aquino III to certify the bill as urgent and save it from yet another death in the House of Representatives.
The Right to Know Right Now! Coalition, a network of 150 media and civil society organizations committed to the passage of an FOI bill, says only President Aquino can still revive the measure at the last minute.
With only six session days to go before going on an extended election campaign recess on Feb. 8, members of the House of Representatives convene again to tackle matters they still deem to be important in the last days of the 15th Congress. For the last three session days, legislators deftly avoided bringing up the controversial FOI bill even as pro-FOI legislators pressed the House leadership to put the bill in the chamber’s order of business. House Committee on Public Information chairman Ben Evardone says that he has been ready to sponsor the measure on the house floor for the last three days, to no avail.
In the last two session days, Davao Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas successfully blocked any discussion of the FOI when he threatened to question the existence of a quorum in the chamber. Cagas has been blocking the legislative mill in protest over a law signed by President Aquino creating the province of Davao Occidental.
FOI advocates are hoping that the President himself finally steps in to breath some life into the bill by certifying it urgent and urging House leaders to act on the measure. Malacanang has been largely lukewarm to the bill, even though President Aquino had indicated his support for the measure when he was still running for the Presidency.
The Right to Know Right Now! Coalition will assemble in front of the University of Sto. Tomas at two in the afternoon Jan. 28 in preparation for the march to Mendiola bridge in front of Malacanang Palace.