4:30 p.m.

It was all over in a matter of seconds.

Speaker Prospero Nograles ignored calls from fellow congressmen on the floor for him to allow the ratification of the pending Freedom of Information Act this afternoon, suspending the session just seconds after declaring its resumption.

At around 4:10 p.m., Nograles announced that the session had resumed. Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. (Iloilo) immediately moved that the session be suspended until June 4, Friday.

Several legislators, including Reps. Bienvenido Abante (Manila), Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan), Teofisto Guingona III (Bukidnon), Lorenzo Tanada III (Quezon), and Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna), tried in vain to catch the attention of Nograles by speaking into a microphone at one of the podiums. However, all the microphones in the chamber appeared to have been turned off, except for the microphones of the Speaker and the Majority Floor Leader.

Over the loud objections of the congressmen, Nograles ordered the suspension of the session until Friday.

Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante tries to stop the suspension of session

“Bastusan na ito,” Guingona told reporters later. Guingona said it was clear that Nograles did not want to act on the measure.

Several congressmen had planned to call on the chamber to act on the pending measure this afternoon, especially since the session on Friday is expected to be mostly ceremonial in nature, with congressional leaders giving themselves the customary pat on the back before adjourning the 14th Congress. Proponents of the measure fear that the measure stands little chance of being ratified by the House of Representatives given the apparently lackluster interest of Nograles on the matter. The FOI bill has been pending with Congress for the last 14 years.

Legislators question the hasty suspension of today’s session

Just this morning, the Senate had passed a resolution expressing its sense that Congress should act on the FOI measure before the 14th Congress adjourns. The Senate had already done its part by ratifiying the bicameral conference committee report on the FOI as early as February. For its part, the House of Representatives had suspended session to give way to the campaign period.

Abante said he had prepared a privilege speech to endorse the ratification of the measure. However, Abante said it was clear that the House leadership did not want the FOI measure to be discussed today, by ensuring that the other microphones on the floor were turned off.

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