As part of his campaign promises, President Aquino had promised to make the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) an administration priority. A year and a half into his administration, he approves the Malacanang version of the FOI. But…with focus partly diverted to the Corona trial, it seems that there are no clear indicators in the House that the passing of the FOI bill will happen before the end of the 15th Congress.
Why the urgency?
There are three regular sessions in every Congress (this is the 15th Congress). With the resumption of Congress last May 7, there are just four (4) weeks remaining in the second regular session? And the bill is still with the Committee on Public Information in the House. Many are doubtful if it can make it through the second regular session.
Some people say that there is still the third regular session. However, observers say that the third regular session of Congress is the one that is least attended and the one most taken for granted because it is the closest to the next scheduled election and many of those in Congress, especially those planning to run for reelection, may be spending more time in their own provinces and as a result, the FOI bill may not be passed in time.
If this is not passed in the 15th Congress, all efforts to finally have an FOI in place would go down the drain and we will find ourselves at square one again.