THE principal author of the Freedom of Information bill on Monday vowed to fight hard to get it approved in the 17th Congress, which convenes next month.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat said he was optimistic the Duterte administration would support the bill as Duterte was also advocating a fight against graft and corruption in government.
The FOI bill is among several controversial measures that is scheduled to be filed in the House of Representatives in July.
“I am glad that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte himself saw the importance of having FOI, even saying that he will issue an Executive Order as soon as he assumes office so that citizens will have access to government information,” Baguilat said.
“But having an actual FOI law will carry more weight than an executive order, thus his [Duterte’s] commitment to continue his unfinished work in the 17th Congress.”
The FOI bill seeks to enforce the citizens’ right to information on matters of public concern. It also seeks to implement the state policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest as defined by the Constitution.
The passage of the FOI bill, Baguilat said, would help institutionalize transparency and accountability in the government since the citizens will have access to information to make sure, for example, that taxpayer money is being spent as budgeted.
He said the FOI bill seeks to make it easier for the public to gain access to public documents, especially those on the bidding of government projects and the allocation of government spending. That would mean greater transparency in government affairs.
“There have been numerous attempts to pass an FOI bill and Congress came close to passing such a measure during the Aquino administration, but the House of Representatives and the Senate have failed to come together on a unified version,” Baguilat said.