THE 15th Congress must adopt, refile and pass with dispatch the version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act that was aborted in the 14th Congress because of the feigned absence of a quorum on the last session day of the House of Representatives last June 4.
In a statement, the Right to Know Right Now! Coalition of over 160 civil society groups and leaders said, “the new senators and congressmen may do well not to repeat the processes so they can save valuable time and even more valuable taxpayers’ money.”
FOUR MORE members of the House of Representatives yesterday said they were among those wrongly named as absent — according to a list provided by Speaker Prospero Nograles to the media – during the roll call at the Session Hall last Friday, June 4, when the ratification of the Freedom of Information Act was scuttled for supposed lack of a quorum.
The four bring to eight the number of lawmakers erroneously tagged as not physically present during the roll call.
The eight bring to 136 – one more than the 135 threshold for a quorum in the 269-member House – the number of lawmakers that was needed to constitute a quorum and act on the motion to ratify the FOI bicameral conference committee report.
House Majority Leader Arthur Defensor motions to ratify the Freedom of Information Act, which was objected to by Camiguin representative Pedro Romualdo. Romualdo is prepared to be ‘condemned’ for blocking the passage of the proposed legislation as he questioned the lack of quorum in the chamber ‘as a matter of principle’.
OUT OF the last 14 years, lawyer Prospero Castillo Nograles spent 12 years as congressman of the first district of Davao City for five terms, and the last 27 months as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 14th Congress.
A leader of the 12th and 13th Congresses as well, Nograles by 2008 authored 17 House bills and co-authored 86. He also helped pass laws, including the Rent Control Law, which limits increases in rentals, and the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
WHAT SECRET or secrets of the House of Representatives under Speaker Prospero Nograles would escape public scrutiny, amid Congress’s failed effort to ratify the Freedom of Information Act last Friday?
Many have asked that question after noting that Nograles himself had co-authored House Bill No. 3732, the lower chamber’s version of the FOI bill, which was authored by a full two-thirds or 181 of about 220 House members.
A DAY before the Freedom of Information Act was supposed to be taken up at the House of Representatives, Speaker Prospero Nograles told media that text messages and phone calls were being made to ensure that House members would attend Friday’s session for the ratification of the FOI bill.
When the leaders of the House of Representatives want a measure passed, we have seen them find a way. But when they want a measure aborted, they simply stay away and quibble about the absence of quorum. For 14 years, the 160 member-organizations of the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition have waged, separately and [...]
THE URBAN poor evicted from their homes. The workers who were suddenly retrenched. The farmers who lost their land to a politician’s real estate firm. The indigenous peoples who were displaced by big mining projects. Journalists who were unable to pursue a big story after being denied access to supposedly public documents. And taxpayers who suspect that their money was being frittered away to corruption.
They are all stakeholders in the quest for full, correct and timely information.
They are all who should know all the data behind their problems and how and why these have happened and could affect their lives for the better or worse.
Accessing data and documents in government possession is the common obstacle that truth and rights seekers from the media, the poor and marginalized sectors and civil society groups have to grapple with, in the absence of a Freedom of Information law that would effectively and fully enforce the Constitution’s guarantees of public accountability and transparency, and the people’s right to know.