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House prioritizing FOI over Cha-Cha?

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Priority-wise, the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill at the House of Representatives (HOR) appears to take precedence over the moves to amend the 1987 Constitution.

This, after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez hinted Wednesday night in a statement that the FOI bill could be taken up at the plenary side by side with the death penalty restoration bill.

Alvarez said that the only hindrance to this is the “House schedule.” But then again, House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas, his right hand man, calls the shots about what should and should not be tackled at the plenary.

Despite the raging debates on the death penalty bill, Alvarez even thinks it may be possible for the House to pass FOI within the year.

The measure, which hurdled the Committee level earlier that day, upholds the right of every citizen to ask for and receive information from government, subject only to limited exceptions.

Incidentally, Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado bared Monday (February 13) that his panel, the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, was about to submit its report to the plenary regarding the approval of the joint resolution calling for a Con-Ass (Constituent Assembly).

The Con-Ass is the Duterte administration’s preferred method of Charter Change (Cha-Cha) under its grand design of switching to a federal type of government.

However, the House leadership has set this discussion for May, or only after the projected passage of the death penalty bill.

Alvarez has repeatedly noted that the proposed return of capital punishment is the top priority legislation of the Executive Department. #