MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Saturday challenged her colleagues to act on her bills, particularly the “anti-epal” bill and the one seeking an end to political dynasty in the Philippines.
In a statement, Santiago lamented that a number of her important bills are still languishing in the Senate, especially Senate Bill No. 54, or the Anti-Signage of Public Works Bill, and S.B. Nos. 55 and 1580 or the Anti-Political Dynasty Bills.
SB 54, also called anti-epal bill, seeks to bar politicians from taking undue credits by putting their names (umi-epal or pumapapel) on signage of public works projects.
“I am disappointed. Without public clamor, these bills will never see the light of day. The committees to which these bills were referred are sitting on them,” Santiago said.
The Anti-Signage of Public Works Bill was referred to the Committee of Civil Service and Government Reorganization chaired by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, while the Anti-Political Dynasty Bills were referred to the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Organization, chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
Santiago has written to both senators requesting for a public hearing on her bills, which, according to her, “have been pending in the Senate for a prolonged period of time.”
“It would be best for the legislative process to ensure that the bills are at least reported out to the plenary session, considering their wide implications on our political system,” she said.
The senator claimed that aside from the Anti-Political Dynasty and Anti-Signage of Public Works Bills, she has four other priority bills that have yet to be acted upon. These are:
- S.B. No. 56, or the Deceased Organ Donor Bill;
- S.B. No. 57, or the Magna Carta for Call Center Workers;
- S.B. No. 186, or the HIV and AIDS Policy and Plan Bill; and
- S.B. No. 185, or the Certificate of Intention to Run for Public Office (CIRPO) Bill.
The CIRPO bill requires any person interested in running for public office to file a certificate of intention to run six months before the deadline for the filing of a certificate for candidacy.
As the principal author of S.B. No. 53, or the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF), Santiago earlier wrote Senator Ralph Recto, chair of the committee on science and technology, requesting for an immediate public hearing. She emphasized that her bill seeks to repeal the Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which was recently upheld in part by a Supreme Court ruling last 18 February 2014.
“My bill – in stark contrast to the Supreme Court ruling – characterizes the crime of online libel as unconstitutional, because the provision violates both the ‘void for vagueness,’ and ‘overbreadth’ doctrines in constitutional law.
Moreover, the Supreme Court ruling appears to go against the global inclination to decriminalize libel,” the senator explained in her letter.
Sen. Recto has set the committee hearing for the MCPIF on Monday, 3 March 2014. Santiago has offered to co-sponsor the bill with Sen. Recto.
“To emphasize my vigorous support of this bill, I respectfully offer to be your co-sponsor, once the bill is reported out at plenary session. But first there has to be a public hearing so that netizens can be given a forum for airing their opposition to the recent Supreme Court decision, particularly where the decision upholds the constitutionality of online libel,” Santiago said in her letter to Recto.
Santiago has been consistent in passing the most number of bills and resolutions in the Senate during her two terms as senator. (MNS)