Lawmaker seeks consumer representatives in government regulatory agencies

TO promote transparency and public participation in government decision making, a lady-lawmaker said consumer groups must be represented in government regulatory bodies.

“It is the duty of the State to provide for a mechanism where concerned sectors can actively participate, in particular, in the regulatory affairs of government,” Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David (4th District, Manila) insists in House Bill 6673.

Unfortunately, Rep. Bonoan-David noted that up to this day, a number of charters creating various governments regulatory bodies – especially those concerned with determining rates of utilities, public transport, etc. – do not contain any provision of increasing public participation in their decision-making process.

“As a result, numerous policy decisions in the past have been approved either without prior consultation with stakeholders or without full disclosure of details in public forums, thereby compromising the ideals of participative policy-making and transparency,” Bonoan-David pointed out.

The lady-lawmaker laments that the public helplessly watches as a succession of increases in the price of goods and services “relentlessly devour what is left of their purchasing power.”

Under HB 6673, the authors propose the inclusion of at least one (1) representative coming from consumer groups belonging to the sector being regulated by the government regulatory body concerned, amending the charters creating them.

These government regulatory bodies include: 1) Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board; 2) Toll Regulatory Board; 3) Energy Regulatory Commission; 4) Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System; and the 5) National Telecommunications Commission.

“There shall be a provision creating the positions of Consumer Group Representatives who will sit at the Governing Boards of these regulatory bodies,” Bonoan-David said, adding that government should never disregard public-opinion.

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