Monday, November 12, 2012

Freedom of Information Bill's Fate to be known today

Today, the controversial Freedom of Information bill will be discussed in the halls of Congress. My friend, Armand Mauricio, publicist of Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada says that this is the final discussion about the bill.   I think the Committee will start the hearing at 1:30 in the afternoon.

The Technical Working Group has left it to the Committee on Information to decide the fate of the bill.

One of the most contentious issues, says Congressman Ben Evardone, himself a former media man, is the inclusion of the right to reply, something which proponents and supporters of the bill, does not want to be included in there.

Bayan Muna Representative and senatoriable Teddy Casino pointed out the objectionable provisions which Malacanang want to include in the bill, which Casino says, will water it down. A report from Inquirer says:

According to CasiƱo, the objectionable exceptions included banning public access to official records of minutes and advice given and opinions expressed during decision-making or policy-formulation, invoked by the President to be privileged by reason of sensitivity or impairment of the presidential deliberative process.
Also among the exceptions were data related to law enforcement and defense, which he said could give officials a lot of chances to hide information on human rights violations.
Under House versions of the FOI bill, all information were considered accessible unless proven in court that these would be used for criminal purposes or were only requested for sheer curiosity.
The MalacaƱang version of the FOI bill also removed the proposed Information Commission, which was supposed to resolve in a timely fashion disputes between agencies and parties seeking public documents.