09 October 2012

'No room' for FOI? We say, 'No room for delays and excuses!'

Legislative measures that are essential for national progress should never be delayed by silly excuses. Recently, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, Chairperson of the House Committee on Public Information, said that the hearing for the Freedom of Information Bill will not push through in October, as originally instructed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. himself. Instead, Rep. Evardone scheduled it in November since there are allegedly no vacant rooms to accommodate the committee hearing for the said measure.

We in the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) express our utmost dismay over this new delay on a proposed law that seeks to advance accountability and transparency in government. We have had enough of excuses from Rep. Evardone, the Chairperson of a legislative committee whose supposed main duty is to prioritize measures such as the FOI Bill.

The FYI, a national network of youth and student organizations, condemn this latest attempt to prevent the passage of the FOI Bill. We laud the principal author of the measure, Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, for taking the initiative of securing a venue for the meeting that we want to happen this October. We call on all the 117 Representatives who signed the manifesto declaring their commitment for the bill's passage to rally behind our champions in the House of Representatives in pushing the measure forward.

We will continue our call to remind our legislators to sincerely fulfill their duties. We young leaders, stakeholders of this nation’s future, will sustain our hope for the enactment of Freedom of Information into law. 

“No room for FOI” in the halls of Congress, says Rep. Evardone. However, we say: “No room for delays. No room for excuses. No room in our ballots in 2013 for public officials who continue to maintain the shroud of secrecy in government! FOI NOW!” 

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