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J Mercado Jr

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xx - Palace denies Ochoa behind FOI bill delay - Philippine Daily News
Palace denies Ochoa behind FOI bill delay
« on: November 16, 2012, 12:04:35 AM »
Malacañang on Wednesday denied allegations by proponents of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill of delaying its passage.

"That’s not true. It’s not true that Executive Secretary (Paquito) Ochoa (Jr.) is lobbying against FOI," said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing.

"Categorically, we have submitted our (version of the) FOI bill. We have no hand in delaying (the passage of) the bill," he said.

Lacierda said that as far as the Palace is concerned, they hope that the measure would be approved at the committee level of the House of Representatives.

"We don’t know what was going on there (House of Representatives). As far as our discussions (are concerned), (Budget and Management) Secretary Butch Abad and I discussed with Congressman (Ben) Evardone. We were hoping that it would be out of committee," he said.

Lacierda said that the Aquino administration has been very open and it lives up to its promise of transparency and accountability.

"This bill… We have spoken to the stakeholders, we have spoken to the coalition, they keep on telling us they have no problem with this administration because we know this administration is transparent. So, on that statement alone -- that particular statement coming from the FOI advocates -- should douse any speculation that this President will not support or is the lead conspirator in the fight against FOI bill. That is totally incorrect," he said.

"We are a government that practices transparency and our actions speak for themselves. It’s for the future administration," he said.

The House committee on public information, headed by Eastern Samar Ben Evardone, on Tuesday failed to put the FOI bill to a vote.

Meanwhile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also denied that Ochoa lobbied against the passage of the FOI bill.

Belmonte, in a text message, said there was no basis for the report which tagged Ochoa as the official behind efforts to halt developments on the FOI bill.

Evardone also denied that Ochoa sought him out to delay or put a stop to the FOI’s approval.

"I vehemently deny the report that ES Ochoa lobbied against the passage of the FOI. He did not talk to me about the FOI when I met him during the budget deliberations of DILG and Office of the President," said Evardone in a text message.

"It is unfair to drag ES Ochoa to the issue because it was the Malacanang’s communications group (with whom) we were in constant dialogue. And even the Malacañang communications group did not also give a hint that the Palace was against (the FOI)," he said. - PNA

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