In Photo: Senator Grace Poe leads the last public hearing on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill
By Raye Danielle Peralta
The Senate committee on public information and mass media headed by Senator Grace Poe finally finished the public hearings regarding the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill earlier.
“I think it is safe to say that this should be our final public hearing for the Freedom of Information before we submit our recommendation to the plenary. This hearing is happily adjourned,” said Poe.
During the senate hearing, representatives of various government agencies disclosed their concerns, commentaries and proposals aimed at improving the bill.
“Masaya ako na tapos iyong ating public hearing. Napakinggan na natin ang iba’t ibang ahensiya ng gobyerno at kanilang mga opinyon at lahat sila ay suportado iyong FOI,” she added in an interview after the hearing.
Poe stressed that the final revisions on the bill should be submitted next week in order for the committee to include the agencies’ final concerns in their discussions before the bill is presented to the plenary.
“Sa tingin ko maisusumite na natin [ito] dahil hindi nalalayo [ang bersyon ngayon] doon sa bersyon na naipasa na sa Senado kaya ako’y umaasa na ito’y mapapasa bago matapos ang taon,” claimed Poe.
Senator Joel Villanueva also encouraged user friendly websites where the public can be given easy access to government information.
The committee has conducted its first FOI hearing last September 19 wherein the Senators reviewed the exceptions enumerated in the Executive Order (EO) on Freedom of Information issued by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Still aiming at the public disclosure of government records and documents, this year marks the 28th year since the first filing of the FOI bill by the former Senator Raul Roco in 1988.