Congress back in harness: FOI gets priority

SENATE President Franklin Drilon on Sunday said the Senate will pursue discussions on the Freedom of Information bill when Congress resumes plenary sessions today after a month-long Christmas break.

At the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonted has made a commitment to see to the passage of the FOI bill before his tenure ends.

Drilon saidan enacted FOI “will encourage active participation in the governance process and will introduce new levels of accountability by increased public scrutiny.”

Senator Grace Poe, sponsor of the bill, expected her proposed measure to be finished by the end of March.

As the debate on the measure was set on January 27, Poe asked her colleagues in the Senate to prepare their inquiries if they want to ask questions.

“I told them, they should ask their names to be listed for those who want to ask questions so that it will be immediately finished,” said Poe in an interview over DZBB last Sunday.

Meanwhile, Drilon said the Senate is set to tackle measures that would promote government transparency, eliminate corruption and bolster the country’s economic performance.

He said senators “are deeply committed to intensify the campaign against corrupt practices” and will prioritize bills like the FOI.

He also said senators are already working on Senate Bill No. 470, which seeks to introduce reforms to the Sandiganbayan Law, to hasten the disposition of numerous ongoing cases bogged-down in the anti-graft court.

Drilon said the Senate will also tackle other measures which would sustain the country’s economic growth, along with legislation that would capacitate the “adequate protection of our national interests.”



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