01 February 2013

[FYI in The Daily Tribune] Evardone killed FOI bill — youth groups

After Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, the chairman of the House committee on public information, declared his apparent “surrender” over the ill fate of the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill in the 15th Congress, youth leaders expressed their disappointment and frustration over the matter.

“It was ‘Doctor’ Evardone who declared that the FoI bill was ‘dead’ due to lack of time and quorum in the House of Representatives. However, it is clear that the main cause was ‘legislative malpractice’ on his part,” said Carlo Brolagda, convenor of the FoI Youth Initiative (FYI), a network of 70 youth organizations and student councils from all over the country fighting for the passage of the said measure.

Brolagda, also the chairman of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman College of Social Science and Philosophy Student Council, said “If we look back, it was Evardone who didn’t call for enough committee hearings for the bill to be tackled at the soonest possible time when the 15th Congress began. He made us wait until the final months before the start of the 2013 elections and made so many excuses (from) the absence of a Liberal Party position on the bill to the unavailability of a room to house the meeting.”

“We find it insulting that he faces the media (pretending) that he did everything he can to save the measure, when in fact, he was the one who actually killed it,” said Arjay Mercado, president of the UP Economics Towards Consciousness (ETC).

Mercado emphasized that “FoI is a youth and student issue also. Our right to information shouldn’t be denied by so-called representatives who fear transparency and accountability.”

With three remaining session days left, the FYI sees that the bill can no longer be passed unless the President certifies it as urgent. They noted that the FoI bill was once part of President Aquino’s campaign promises in 2010. 

“We will continue to fight for this,” said Brolagda, “Our democracy will remain incomplete without a law on freedom of information. We young people will be persistent and steadfast in our struggle for a government that is open and honest to the people it serves.”

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