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Groups press House to pass FOI bill

MANILA, Philippines - Various youth organizations yesterday called on members of the House of Representatives to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill before sessions end on Feb. 9 to give way to the campaign period for the 2013 midterm elections.

The FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), composed of 68 youth organizations nationwide, urged lawmakers to “cement its reputation as the House of the People that has successfully enacted relevant progressive legislation for the rights and welfare of Filipinos.”

“They shouldn’t stop now,” Carlo Brolagda, one of the convenors of the FYI, said.

Brolagda said that “the House will fall short of fully gaining the people’s trust if they fail to pass the FOI bill.”

The FYI is a member of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, an alliance of FOI advocates.

“The Senate has done its part by finally approving the measure. We believe that it isn’t too much to ask for the House to do the same before the 15th Congress ends and before many of its members go on campaign mode for the elections,” Brolagda said.

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He said the FOI, if passed into law, “will go beyond being an anti-corruption tool because ultimately, it is a way to catalyze participatory governance.”

Chris Alquizalas, another convenor of FYI, encouraged young Filipinos to help in lobbying for the bill by engaging their representatives in Congress.

“We have to make them realize that FOI is our issue too. We, young people, who will eventually inherit this government, want institutionalized mechanisms for transparency and accountability of public officials and offices,” Alquizalas said.

The FYI urged President Aquino to certify the measure as urgent.

The group said they will closely watch the proceedings in the House until its last session day on Feb. 8.

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