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Much to the dismay and consternation of well-meaning and good intentioned sectors of Philippine society, the House of Representatives failed to pass the long-awaited freedom of information (FOI) bill.
The gift of millions of pesos sourced from savings of the Senate and the House of Representatives to each of the two chambers’ members is an act made unconscionably callous amid the hunger and suffering of millions of poor Filipinos, most especially the typhoon victims.
By Walden Bello
While the Senate has passed the Freedom of Information Bill (before its members descended into a deadly knife-fight), the House of Representatives still has to bring the FOI bill to the plenary for debate. Why the bill seems to be headed for a fiasco similar to what happened to it on the last day the 14th Congress, when a quorum call was made to scuttle its ratification, is traced by some of the bill’s advocates to the lack of enthusiasm for it on the part of key players in the House and Malacanang. Others fault the majority of House members, who, they say, would much rather engage in early electoral campaigning than attend session to assure a quorum. Whatever the reasons, the bill’s sponsors in the House are still hanging on to the Speaker’s observation that in that chamber, “things usually come together in the last three days.”
By Butch Hernandez
Last November, with a vote of 198 for and eight against, the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 6643, more popularly known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012. In my previous column (Inquirer, 1/5/13), I said that this augurs well for education reform advocates and stakeholders because the Department of Education’s K-to-12 program will now be powered by an enabling law. I may have given the impression that an Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012 has already been signed into law. Well, that’s not quite so, and for that I must apologize.
I’ve always been an avid reader of Public Lives. I like the way Randy David’s opinions are presented. He usually supports them with facts and unquestionable pieces of evidence.
A comparative rundown of the affirmative and negative votes in the House of the Representatives cast in the second and third readings relative to the highly controversial reproductive health bill cannot but reveal a mouthful about the kind of congressmen and congresswomen we have in our midst and times.
When the 109th vote came, courtesy of Bukidnon Rep. Jose Zubiri III, those following the nominal voting on social media began to see a slow explosion, a virtual blossoming, of celebratory tweets and congratulatory posts. (A government official with a reputation for wit was moved to define a new word: “Zumubiri—verb [I think], to cast the crucial vote at the most critical time.”)
On the proposal to enact the constitutional promise of freedom of information, the calculated incompetence of the House committee on public information has led to the outcome it wanted all along: deliberate inaction. The committee’s failure on Tuesday to even put the Freedom of Information bill to a vote, after an agonizing procedural detour, means there is very little chance that it will become law under the 15th Congress.
By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Last Monday, in a last-ditch effort, groups marched to and rallied in Mendiola in the vain hope that the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill would become a reality after years of languishing in the desert despite the valiant efforts of its advocates. And for it to get past (to borrow the title of a Lemony Snicket blockbuster) the “series of unfortunate events” that bedeviled it, no thanks to the closet and openly harmful antis.
Freedom of information is an issue that concerns also the youth. We recognize that establishing mechanisms for public transparency and accountability is necessary in shaping a government that is genuinely open and honest to the people. Why would the youth be concerned about such matters? It is because the challenge of leadership in this country will be upon us in the future. And we do not want to inherit a government that fosters a culture of secrecy and distrust. It’s high time for the youth to join the call of various sectors for the enactment of a freedom of information law.
By Amando Doronila
The House of Representatives on Monday abruptly ended debate on the contentious reproductive health bill by sheer force of numbers, after President Aquino held a two-and-a-half-hour meeting in Malacañang with 182 congressmen, where he urged them to end interpellations on the bill that has been languishing in Congress for almost a decade and a half [...]
This refers to the news item titled “Solon apologizes, withdraws anti-God bill” which seeks to “prohibit religious rites and images in government buildings and offices in line with the Constitution’s separation of Church and State” (Inquirer, 6/23/12).