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    Posted July 7, 2014 by
    omeroscar
    Location
    Manila

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    We need FOI law, Filipinos tell Aquino

     
    A GROUP of Filipinos that call themselves “People’s FOI Now” has asked Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to give them access to government information by passing the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
    In a petition coursed through Change.org Monday, the group said Aquino, who won on a platform of transparency and clean government, gave them high hopes that the time for the realization of an FOI law has come.
    “But with only a little more than two years remaining in the term of President Aquino, and with the Presidential elections just around the corner, the FOI Bill remains pending at the Committee level at the House of Representatives,” the group lamented.
    The group said they need a law that will give life to the right of citizens to request and be given access to government information beyond what government chooses to disclose proactively.
    “An FOI law responds to this by clarifying the scope of and exceptions to available information, by providing the definite procedure for requesting and being given access to information, and by imposing administrative or criminal liability for the violation of a citizen's right to information,” they said in a petition also addressed to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr..
    With time running out, the group is inviting Filipinos to join them in expressing their collective clamor for President Aquino and Speaker Belmonte to exercise leadership and act decisively to pass the FOI Bill.
    “We will deliver the letter with our signatures to President Aquino and Speaker Belmonte one week before the President's State of the Nation Address in July,” the group concluded in their petition.
    In response to the petition, Malacanang said the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) law still needs more discussions.
    “The FOI bill needs to be discussed because it will affect everyone... A healthy discussion will lead to a better product,” said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in a Palace press briefing on Wednesday.
    Lacierda said several congressmen are pushing for the inclusion of open data in the proposed FOI law.
    “Open Data means, as part of a proactive measure of government is to post government data in website. So complementing FOI -the release of information to one person is to release it to all,” he said.
    “Insofar as the Executive branch is concerned, we have exhibited the transparency that has always been requested by the civil society organization,” he added.
    Lacierda said a committee of the technical working group is consolidating the various versions of the bill.
    "So we believe that FOI is moving," he said.

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