Lawmakers reject House prioritization of Cha-cha over FOI

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Friday, January 24, 2014

PROPONENTS of the freedom of information (FOI) bill in the House of Representatives rejected the statement of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.'s that the chamber will prioritize the controversial Charter change (Cha-cha) over FOI.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr., a member of the House committee on public information, said that while he has nothing against deliberating on proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution, the public would rather see an anti-corruption measure legislated.

"I don't find any groundswell for Cha-cha among the electorate and our colleagues. The proposed amendments are also not clear to this time. On the other hand, everyone is aghast against corruption. FOI is a transparency and anti-corruption measure that all Filipinos are yearning for," Baguilat said.


Belmonte earlier said he has tasked the chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments to fast track his proposed resolution amending certain economic provisions of the Constitution.

Cibac party-list Representative Sherwin Tugna appealed to Speaker Belmonte to reverse Cha-cha and FOI in terms of House priority.

"I hope that the House leadership reverses this stance. If we make Cha-cha a priority in effect, a condition precedent over FOI, the FOI bill will have a slim chance of being a law," Tugna said.

Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon noted that passing an FOI law would have a greater impact on the public rather than amending the Constitution.

The FOI seeks to grant the public wider access to government documents. Proposals to enact an FOI law in the present 16th Congress are still pending before the House committee on public information.

Quezon City Representative Bolet Banal, a close ally of Speaker Belmonte, said he trusts that the House leadership gives importance both to Cha-cha and the FOI bill.

"We have tackled several important and controversial measures in the past, and I'm confident that FOI and other equally important bills will also be passed under Speaker Belmonte's able stewardship," Banal said. (Sunnex)

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