Aug 062013
After admitting that the Public Information Committee was “unattractive” to most solons, former committee chair and Western Samar Representative Ben Evardone nevertheless threw his support behind Misamis Occidental Representative Jorge Almonte.

“[The committee] is something not attractive to members of the House, due to the many contentious issues around it,” Evardone said in a Tuesday press conference. The Public Information Committee handles the controversial Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, which seeks to promote transparency in government transactions and data.

Evardone praised Almonte’s performance as a local executive, who consulted with constituents on important matters, saying it was this attention to detail that will hopefully see the FOI bill passed.

“He did that as a mayor and I believe that with this chairmanship, for sure he will consult all stakeholders,” he said.

It was earlier reported that Almonte will chair the ethics committee, but Evardone revealed that Almonte himself asked for he Public Information Committee.

Evardone also noted that while the Liberal Party (LP) had no official stand on the FOI bill, he reiterated that the LP generally stands for transparency and accountability at all times.

Evardone, who sponsored the FOI bill in the 15th Congress, advised Almonte to come up with a bill that will not alienate any sector. He also suggested that the FOI bill be “refocused” to highlight the positives, to make the bill more attractive to solons.,

For his part, Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo said the majority was very hopeful the FOI bill will pass in the 16th Congress, despite “lingering phantoms.” The Marikina representative also believed that public officials and civil servants’ fear that all their time will be spent answering media and NGOs will be addressed and clarified.,

President Benigno Aquino III did not certify the FOI bill as urgent in the last Congress despite his expressed support for it.

During the 15th Congress, the FOI bill only went as far as the period of sponsorship—the first step in plenary discussions of the measure—at the chamber.

The Senate was able to pass its version of the proposed legislation two months ago. — DVM, GMA News

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