A proposed freedom of information law that could have been reportedly ratified in two minutes was not acted upon because the House of Representatives did not have enough members to hold a session.
Only 128 of the needed 135 House lawmakers were present in the House on Friday after Camiguin Rep. Pedro Romualdo called the rolls of the chamber’s 268 members.
Because of the absence of a quorum, the House failed to ratify the Freedom of Information bill which would have increased government transparency by enabling even ordinary citizens to access pertinent documents.
House Speaker Prospero Nograles, who promised the bill would be ratified Friday, said he was "at a loss on what to say."
"We cannot take up any legislative business without [a] quorum," Nograles said.
Some lawmakers and audience, including many media members and advocates of the bill, were furious.
"How can we say we are the House of the people if we cannot even do our job?" said Cibac party-list Rep. Joel Villanueva. His statement was met with applause.
Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, one of the primary proponents of the bill, walked out of the session hall after saying Romualdo's statements were an "insult" to the 180 sponsors of the bill.
The ratification was stalled after Romualdo made the motion questioning the quorum.
Nograles immediately suspended the session to talk to Romualdo, but Romualdo refused to withdraw his motion and reiterated that a roll call must be done.
"It pained me so much considering that you and I have been together for so long a time. Almost on your bended knees you requested me to withdraw...[but] this is a question of principle," said Romualdo. He and Nograles — who both belong to Lakas-Kampi-CMD — were both human rights lawyers in the 1970s.
Romualdo said he was ensuring that majority of lawmakers were there for the FOI’s enactment because it was an important bill that he claimed was not deliberated upon.
"The House is practically being pressured to pass this bill," said Romualdo.
The House has adjourned its session and will no longer be taking up legislative matters.
"Ang ating binuburol ngayon ang reputasyon, respeto, at isang salita ni Speaker Nograles at ng 14th Congress," said PCIJ executive director Maloou Mangahas. — RJAB Jr./RSJ, GMANews.TV
Reposted From GMA News.TV