UP NCPAG offers room for FOI bill hearing

THE University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) offered a room to the Committee of Public Information of the House of Representatives to finally push through with the long-overdue hearing on Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

“The committee hearing is urgent and finding a room should not further delay the bill, that’s why we invite the Committee led by Rep. Ben Evardone to use UP NCPAG facilities,” said UP NCPAG Dean Edna Co.

Co’s offer is a response to recent statements of Evardone to the media that the FOI bill will be moved to November 13 from the previously promised October 16 schedule because there is no room available for the hearing.

The Eastern Samar representative also said in media reports that Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada, the main author of the FOI bill, did not coordinate with him after the Tanada claimed in media reports reserving a room at the House in anticipation of another delay using such reason.

“I anticipated that reasoning and I reserved a room for committee hearing that the committee on public information can use if they want to,” Tanada was quoted in Sunstar Exchange as saying. Tanada also told media that with Evardone’s latest excuse, the FOI bill is in intensive care unit (ICU).

Co said UP NCPAG decided to make the offer to Evardone because of the limited time left for the House to discuss and pass the bill.

Congress would be on a two-week break from October 20 to November 4, and would resume sessions from November 5 to December 21.

Holding House committee hearings in another government facility is allowed under House Rule IX, Section 35, paragraph 1, which says: “Place, Time and Notice of Meetings. – All committees and subcommittees shall conduct their meetings, conferences or hearings at such time they may determine in the House building or, whenever necessary, in any government office or facility. They may, however, be held in any other place when authorized by the Speaker or when so authorized by the House. Only the Committee on Rules and such committees to which it has granted permission, may meet while the House is in plenary session, has adjourned, or is in recess.” (Emphasis provided.)

Co said the UP NCPAG will strictly abide by the House Rules. The college, as part of UP, is a public service institution.

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