Call for FOI bill’s certification as urgent confuses
Please allow me to react to the news story titled “Communication group wants Aquino to certify FOI bill as urgent” (Metro, 2/21/14). This thing called presidential certification of urgency of a bill confuses me endlessly, indeed!
As far as I humbly know, a bill passed by either house of Congress may finally become a law only after it has properly undergone the following nine stages: (1) first reading, (2) referral to appropriate committee, (3) second reading, (4) debates, (5) printing and distribution, (6) third reading, (7) referral to the other house, (8) submission to joint bicameral committee and (9) submission to the president. The only exception to this rather circuitous, yet constitutionally-mandated, process is when, under Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution, the president certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency.
So, I ask: What “calamity or emergency” situation exists today for President Aquino to certify to the urgency of the Freedom of Information bill? We can of course all agree it is a very important bill. Truth to tell, these innumerable government scandals being successively unearthed lately could have been minimized had the already constitutionally recognized right and access of the people to all matters of public concern been earlier covered by an appropriate enabling law: an FOI law. The thing is, the FOI bill, as originally proposed, has been allowed by our lawmakers to gather dust in several past congresses already. Why suddenly call it urgent now?
On the other hand, one recalls that the controversial Reproductive Health bill was certified as urgent by the President and duly passed last year. But with that law remaining unimplemented up to now, after some quarters questioned its constitutionality before the Supreme Court, who says there is some calamity or emergency situation happening in our midst and times?
—RUDY L. CORONEL,
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