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FOI makes it to Congress priority list; Cha-cha out

Leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Thursday agreed to prioritize the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill and five other measures in their last year in Congress.

In a media briefing, Senate President Franklin Drilon said Congress will only have six months in the third regular session, which will open on Monday, July 27, before President Benigno Aquino III's last state address.

"There's a lot in our plate but we intend to achieve as much as we can... We have agreed that for the six months, on top of our agenda, our highest priorities will be six measures," Drilon told reporters.

Apart from the FOI, Drilon said Congress has included among its priority bills the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the 2016 national budget, amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the modernization of PAGASA.

The Senate has already approved the FOI on third and final reading. The counterpart measure, however, has so far gathered dust in the House of Representatives.

The so-called economic Charter change (Cha-cha), meanwhile, was not included on the list of priorities despite the public support of both Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to it.

Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 seeks to insert the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law" in the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, which would then allow Congress to propose amendments.

It has already hurdled second reading approval in the House of Representatives, but has yet to be tackled by the Senate

"The Cha-cha is still in the House and we have not discussed it in the Senate. Realistically, it's difficult...Next administration na lang," Drilon said. —KBK, GMA News