Despite Aquino snub, FOI will be pushed, lawmaker vows

Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone. FILE PHOTO

The committee on public information of the House of Representatives will push for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill despite President Benigno Aquino’s failure to mention it as a priority in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) Monday.

Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, committee chairman, said lawmakers  were pushing for the inclusion of a provision that will give the aggrieved party, including politicians, the right to reply to the accusations hurled against him/her in the media.

“That is one middle ground, although that is already being done today by some reporters and desk editors, to get the side of the aggrieved party as much as possible,” Evardone told a press briefing.

He said though that the new provision would require media entities to exert effort to get the side of the aggrieved party based on information gathered through the FOI.

Evardone said he would also meet with Nueva Ecija Representative Rodolfo Antonino who insisted on a provision giving the aggrieved party equal time and space in the media where the negative report comes out to arrive at a compromise.

Media organizations have hit the Antonino proposal as it would curtail freedom of the press.

Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada has said that the committee was not disheartened that the President did not mention the FOI in the Sona since its passage would depend on Congress.

Both Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. have expressed support for the passage of the bill during the opening of Congress session on Monday.

The bill is expected to enhance transparency in government and curb corruption by giving people access to information such as government transactions, researches used in policy-making, and other relevant data. Cynthia D. Balana

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