Casiño: Malacanang FOI version will prevent people’s participation in policy making

PARTYLIST Rep. Teddy Casiño slammed Malacanang’s version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, saying that this will prevent people’s participation in policy making.

Section 7 (d) exempts the following from the law’s coverage: ‘the information requested consists of drafts of orders, resolutions, decisions, memoranda or audit reports by any executive, administrative, regulatory, constitutional, judicial or quasi-judicial body in the exercise of their regulatory, audit and adjudicatory function.”

The Bayan Muna representative explained that Malacanang expanded the provision which originally referred to judicial and adjudicatory functions only.

“Kung sa Congress nga, lahat ng draft ng batas ay bukas sa publiko, dapat ganun din sa mga administrative orders o memorandum circulars ng mga ahensya that also has the effect of law,” said Casiño.

“This will definitely be a hindrance to active involvement in policy making by the people. I can’t imagine an FOI law that prevents the public from getting copies of drafts of executive orders, administrative orders, memorandum circulars and similar documents. Only in the Philippines!” exclaimed Casiño, who last Monday withdrew his name as co-author of the bill.

“Ganito ang nangyayari sa mga draft resolutions o orders ng iba’t-ibang departments ng gobyerno na nakakaapekto sa mga mamamayan. Halimbawa nito ang Department of Agriculture (DA) at Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) na naglalabas ng mga resolution o orders na hindi man lang kinokonsulta sa mga magsasaka o kaya’y ang Land Transportation Office na nagtataas ng multa nang walang public hearing,” he added.

“Ito ay isa lamang sa mga probisyon na gusto naming tanggalin pero dalawang araw nang walang nangyayari sa plenaryo. Pres. Aquino and his party is allowing this delay, either to block the passage of the FOI bill or to keep their provisions intact, leaving less time for amendments. Actually, kaya lang naman madami pang pag-uusapan dahil sa mga probisyon na pinaglalagay nila, many of which result in more restrictions to government information,” he added.

On Monday, Casiño and other Makabayan bloc representatives announced their withdrawal of authorship from HB 6766. He said they cannot sponsor the present version of the FOI Bill which allows executive privilege and other excuses to take precedence over the public’s right to information.

“We cannot remain sponsors yet criticize crucial provisions that undermine the very essence of freedom of information. We are withdrawing as authors but remain as supporters of FOI,” he said.

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