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Congress adjourns session without passing freedom of information bill

(SEAPA/IFEX) - The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, among other key measures, was not passed when the Philippines' lower legislative chamber adjourned on its last day of session on 3 February 2010 without constituting a quorum, media reports said.

"The Philippine Daily Inquirer" reported that only 91 members of the House of Representatives showed up, way below the required 135 headcount required to constitute a quorum.

The FOI bill, had it been passed into law, would have given citizens easier access to information held by the government.

House Speaker Prospero Nograles blamed the non-passage of the bill on the lack of quorum, but its authors and supporters accused the lower chamber's leadership of stalling on the measure.

Bayan Muna party-list representative Teodoro Casiño said that transparency - which would have been ensured had the FOI bill been signed into law - "is the number one issue hounding the Arroyo administration."

House Bill 3732 was approved on 12 May 2008 while the upper chamber's version was passed in December 2009.

The combined legislative bills stipulate that all public records in print, sound or visual form will be made available to the public. They also call for a state policy providing "full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest."

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