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Advocates to Congress, P-Noy:Rush FOI Law, Observe Disclosure Rule Now

Advocates to Congress, P-Noy:Rush FOI Law, Observe Disclosure Rule Now

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Published by BlogWatch.ph
Yet even without an FOI law, the Coalition said President Aquino and his appointees could on their own “promulgate and observe active disclosure policies in their decisions and transactions, notably appointments, contracts, executive agreements, borrowing, and spending.”
Yet even without an FOI law, the Coalition said President Aquino and his appointees could on their own “promulgate and observe active disclosure policies in their decisions and transactions, notably appointments, contracts, executive agreements, borrowing, and spending.”

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Published by: BlogWatch.ph on Jul 04, 2010
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07/06/2010

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Advocates to Congress, P-Noy:
Rush FOI law, observedisclosure rule even now
By the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
THE 15
th
Congress must adopt, refile and pass with dispatch the version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act that was aborted in the 14
th
Congress because of the feigned absence of aquorum on the last session day of the House of Representatives last June 4.In a statement, the Right to Know Right Now! Coalition of over 160 civil society groups andleaders said, “the new senators and congressmen may do well not to repeat the processes so theycan save valuable time and even more valuable taxpayers’ money.”The Senate had ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the FOI but the House notonly failed to act but even thwarted the bill’s passage.Pending action on the bill in the 15
th
Congress,, the Coalition called on the government of President Benigno C. Aquino III to “translate its commitment to transparency into clear policiesand concrete action” and promptly convey to Congress his unequivocal support for the immediate passage of the bill.The Coalition said the President might consider enrolling his support for the FOI bill in his firstState of the Nation Address on July 23, as well as through an appropriate message to Congresscertifying the necessity of its immediate enactment.Yet even without an FOI law, the Coalition said President Aquino and his appointees could ontheir own “promulgate and observe active disclosure policies in their decisions and transactions,notably appointments, contracts, executive agreements, borrowing, and spending.”Additionally, the Coalition exhorted the new House of Representatives to “introduce amendmentsto its Rules and changes in its practice, to prevent a repeat of capricious acts by the leaders of the14
th
Congress that undermine not only the due performance of its legislative duty but also theintegrity of the institution.”1
 
The House, the Coalition noted, “must stop the practice of dispensing with the roll call at the startof session to railroad measures without quorum.”The Coalition stressed that “attendance in sessions, an important obligation to state and people byevery member of Congress, can only be enforced if quorum is strictly observed before session can proceed.”On session days when a quorum is not present amid urgent business matters on the agenda, theCoalition said, “Congress must exercise its right to compel the attendance of absent members. Interms of the determination of quorum, the Rules must be amended to provide an effective check onthe Secretary General’s determination of the result of a roll call.”“The Rules on the consideration of conference reports must be strengthened to give effect to itshigh privilege in the order of business, and avoid the arbitrary and unjust blocking of an importantmeasure by the House leadership as happened in the FOI bill conference report,” the Coalitionsaid.Last June 4, the last session day of the 14
th
Congress, House Secretary General Marilyn B. Yapdeclared that only 128 members were present – or seven short of the 135 required to constitute aquorum – at the close of a roll call prompted by a quorum question from Lakas-Kampi ally of thenSpeaker Prospero Nograles.A motion was made for the present members to compel the attendance of the absent members, as provided by Section 74 of the House Rules but Nograles simply scoffed at the motion.After Nograles released the list of House members who were supposedly absent on June 4, at leastnine congressmen later came forward and were established on video footage to have been actually present at the session hall during the roll call.They include Representatives Neptali Gonzales II, Roilo Golez, Michael John “Jack” Duavit,Mujiv Hataman, Arthur Pingoy, Magtanggol Gunigundo, Jovito Palparan, Pablo P. Garcia, andOscar Malapitan.According to the Coalition, “by all accounts, the number of House members present at the June 4session was more than the required number to constitute quorum and the Freedom of InformationAct could have been ratified that same day.”The Coalition vowed to continue its effort to establish “which House leaders and Secretariat personnel must be held accountable for the events of June 4.”2

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