Solon: Expedite passage of gov’t transparency bills, repeal of Cybercrime Law

WITH the resumption of sessions in Congress yesterday, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino again urged the House leadership to expedite the passage of bills that would allow greater transparency in government including the Freedom of Information Bill and the Bicameral Meeting Transparency Bill, as well as the repeal of the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

“The Aquino administration has kept on harping about its anti-corruption campaign. Yet the Congress leadership – composed of allies of the president – is taking eons to act upon bills that would enable such transparency. Well Mr. President, guess what, we’re running out of time,” Palatino said.

There are only 34 working days remaining before Congress again adjourns on December 21. To give way to the campaign period for the upcoming elections, Congress will resume session for only 15 working days next year, from January 21 to February 8.

“Transparency and accountability are part and parcel of good governance. Espousing an anti-corruption agenda without passing enabling laws is a conundrum beyond comprehension,” Palatino said.

The FOI Bill is set to be discussed on November 13 at the committee level. Meanwhile, House Bill 6651 or the Bicameral Meeting Transparency Bill filed by Palatino and Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño, has yet to be scheduled for deliberations.

HB 6651 sets rules for the conduct of bicameral meetings which will enable “transparency and maximum public participation” in the deliberations, Palatino explained.

“Due to the secretive nature of the bicam meetings, we have already witnessed how bills that have been deliberated for years in both houses end up either as watered-down versions or, as in the case of the Cybercrime Law, more punitive than what has been agreed upon during plenary deliberations,” Palatino said.

“I urge my fellow lawmakers to support the Bicam Transparency Bill along with the FOI Bill to ensure that the public is not left in the dark on matters that will greatly affect their welfare,” the youth solon said.
‘Repeal Cybercrime Law’

Meanwhile, Palatino also urged the House leadership to immediately consider House Bill 6613, seeks to repeal Sections 4(c)4, 5, 6, 7 and the whole Chapter 4 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act or Republic Act 10175.

Section 4(c)4, 5, and 6 of RA 10175 relate to online libel, and are unconstitutional due its vagueness, the youth solon explained. Meanwhile, Chapter IV of RA 10175 is also unconstitutional for violating constitutional due process, Palatino said.

“A month has passed since the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order against the Cybercrime Law, which we see as a a cue for Congress leadership to expedite the processing of repeal bills now filed in both chambers of Congress,” Palatino said. “However, Congress leadership is seemingly uninterested in the passage of the said bill,” he added.

“It is the task of Congress to ensure that legislations essential for the protection of civil liberties are passed without delay. My fellow legislators in the 15th Congress, let us pass FOI, let us pass the Bicam Transparency Bill. Let us repeal the contentious Cybercrime Law. Time is ticking, and we should act or forever be adjudged as betraying the public’s trust,” Palatino said.

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