Solons seek transparency in bicam meetings after cyber law passageBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers pushing to repeal the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 have filed a measure seeking transparency in bicameral conference committee meetings, saying that it was during these talks that the contentious provisions on the new law were inserted.
Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino and Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Teddy Casino filed earlier this week House Bill 6651 or the Bicameral Meeting Transparency Act of 2012 following what they deemed to be a “disastrous” result of meetings between senators and congressmen on the cybercrime law.
The bill seeks to ensure “transparency and maximum public participation” during the said meetings.
In the explanatory note of the proposed measure, the two legislators noted that while most hearings at the House of Representatives and the Senate were commonly public “transparency seems to stop at the bicameral conference committee”.
They pointed out how some viewed the bicameral conference committee as “Congress’ ‘third chamber’ — a secluded meeting wherein provisions are inserted without the benefit of public scrutiny.”
Palatino attributed watered-down or more punitive versions of laws passed by the two chambers of Congress to the “secretive nature” of the bicameral conference committee discussions.
Such was the case in Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime law which became “more punitive than what has been agreed upon during plenary deliberations,” he insisted.
He warned that controversial measures like the Reproductive Health Bill, which is still pending deliberations at the plenary, could end up being watered-down if the bicameral conference committee failed to be transparent in its discussions.
Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo, one of the House conferees during the bicameral talks on the Cybercrime law, agreed that the meetings should be made public. “Doing so is not an anathema. In fact, opening the bicam to the public erases doubts which are often without basis.”