Press Release
September 29, 2016


The Senate committee on public information and mass media capped public hearings on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, its chairperson Senator Grace Poe announced today, paving the way for the bill's endorsement for plenary consideration and subsequent approval in December.

"We have already unanimously passed the FOI bill in the last Congress in record time. I think that we will be able to immediately come up with a committee report and sponsor this bill soon," Poe said in concluding the second hearing on the transparency measure.

"Sa tingin ko naman hindi malalayo ito doon sa bersyon na naipasa na sa Senado kaya ako'y umaasa na ito'y mapapasa bago matapos ang taon," she added.

Poe said the panel will now prepare a consolidated measure and consider various proposals from senators and what transpired in two public hearings, adding that the proposed FOI law could boost the administration's anti-corruption policy.

"I think that a lot of senators will agree to an FOI law at the soonest possible time," the lawmaker added.

State agencies covered by Executive Order (EO) No. 2 earlier issued by President Duterte were unanimous in backing the approval of the FOI bill, reiterating their commitments to promote transparency and good governance, but with certain limitations so as not to disclose sensitive information.

"An individual's right to privacy is equally important as the right to information. There is a need to balance these two constitutionally protected rights, especially concerning online disclosure of sensitive information," Poe said.

The FOI bill was listed as among the priority measures, along with 14 other bills, that the Duterte administration wants passed immediately.

"Although the President's EO is laudable, and we thank him for it, there is still an urgent need to pass a freedom of information law, so that the scope will not just be on the Executive but also on the other branches of government," Poe said.

"Thus, we are not giving up. In fact we are full of hope. We are not going to make an exact replica. Rather, we will strive to improve the material before us, so that the committee report in this chamber will be a superior piece of legislation that is abreast with the needs of the times."

The Senate approved on third and final reading its version of the FOI bill on March 10, 2014 during the 16th Congress, but got stalled in the House of Representatives.

News Latest News Feed