Business World Online – Lawmakers file pet bills for 16th Congress

By K. M. P. Tubadeza and M. J. O. Cantilero | Business World Online

business_worldLAWMAKERS YESTERDAY filed bills focusing on health, social welfare and labor, and the environment as the term of the 16th Congress officially started.

Senator Vicente C. Sotto III filed measures creating a dangerous drug court, providing affordable drug rehabilitation treatment for Philippine Health Insurance Corp. beneficiaries, and prohibiting children 12 years old and below to ride in tandem on motorcycles.

For her part, neophyte Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay filed measures institutionalizing special education, free medical and dental service for indigent children, firecracker safety, establishing a Philippine Arbitration Commission, and developing the sugar cane industry.

A measure seeking mandatory signing of bank waivers has been filed by Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero, similar to a planned voluntary disclosure of bank accounts during the impeachment trial of then chief justice Renato C. Corona.

Another newcomer, Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares filed a measure seeking to promote film tourism. The senator was former chief of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

A measure creating a National Land Use Policy was filed by Senator Loren B. Legarda. The bill, a priority during the 15th Congress, failed to pass the Senate but was approved on final reading by the House of Representatives.

For his part, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. filed an amendment to the Cybercrime Prevention Act “deleting the provision imposing a penalty for cyber libel higher than the penalty imposed under the Revised Penal Code for libel committed through the traditional media like print and broadcast.”

The Supreme Court has issued a stay order on Republic Act 10175 in October last year and has extended it indefinitely in February.

At the House of Representatives, an advocacy group pushed for a people’s initiative bill on Freedom of Information.

The bill, called People’s Freedom of Information Act, is similar to the measure filed in the 15th Congress that was stalled in the committee of both chambers.

The measure, said Nepomuceno Malaluan of the Right to Know, Right Now! coalition, seeks to exempt from disclosure classified information relating to national security and foreign affairs.

Data can be disclosed, according to the bill, “… to afford reasonable public participation in government decision-making on bilateral and multilateral agreements.”

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