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Malacañang says Aquino approves in principle the Freedom of Information Bill

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Malacanang said that President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved in principle the passage of the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill pending several concerns that are yet to be addressed through careful study and deliberation.

In a press briefing at the Palace on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the President himself has approved in principle the FOI Bill as he clarified that there were just several concerns that need to be discussed.

“The President agrees with the FOI in principle but there are certain things which we have to address...,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda further said that the President wants more time to study and flesh out the bill.

“We’ve got four years and 11 months to go,” Lacierda said.

The Palace version of the FOI bill provides for the creation of an independent Information Commission, with its own budget and quasi-judicial functions such as the power to subpoena.

The commission would be the “arbiter” between government and any parties who have questions regarding the bill’s enforcement.

At least 13 FOI bills were studied and reviewed -- including those enforced in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa -- for exemptions covering classified information and documents that would be prejudicial to national defense or security.

The FOI bill seeks to answer a Constitutional provision that guarantees the right of people to access to information and documents in the custody of government officials and agencies

(PCOO/PIA9-BST)




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