Senators push FOI, antidynasty, death penalty bills
MANILA, Philippines — Senators will push anew for the passage of the antidynasty and freedom of information (FOI) bills, measures deemed important but which had faced difficulty hurdling Congress in previous years.
The controversial and possibly contentious death penalty bill is also expected to be revived in the Senate.
Sen. Franklin Drilon made a fresh bid for the passage of an antidynasty measure when he filed his priority bills.
His bill seeks to prohibit the spouses and relatives of an incumbent elective official seeking reelection from holding or running for any elective office in the same province and in the same election. The affected relatives are those within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity
It also seeks to ban any person within the prohibited civil degree of relationship to the incumbent to succeed to the position of the latter, Drilon said.
“No less than the Constitution mandates the state to guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law,” he said.
The 1987 Constitution prohibits political dynasties, but Congress has yet to pass an enabling law to put this provision into effect, Drilon said.
“The Constitution entrusted to Congress the duty to end political dynasties. Unfortunately, we have failed in our duty and, hence, political dynasty still persists and so does poverty,” he said.
According to Drilon, there is a link between poverty and political dynasties, since dynasties rule the country’s poorest provinces and municipalities. These areas include Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu, he said.
“Research has found that dynastic concentration has a significantly negative effect on the upliftment of local living standards, noting that lack of real political competition leads to flawed policies,” Drilon added.
He also filed a bill that would strengthen political parties and discourage turncoatism, a practice that he said “should never be tolerated since it only distorts the concept of word of honor and dignity of a leader.”
For her part, Sen. Grace Poe made another attempt to pass a freedom of information bill, which aims to make it easier for the public to gain access to crucial data from the government.
“Transparency is essential to accountability. Without transparency, citizens cannot access the information needed to collectively discern the fitness of public officials, elected otherwise, to hold public office,” said Poe, who had chaired the public information committee.
She had shepherded the bill through the Senate which approved it on third and final reading in 2014. But the House of Representatives had not approved a counterpart measure.
Poe refiled it in 2016 and was able to sponsor it on the floor.
Her bill states that every Filipino has a right to be given access “to any information of public concern under the control of a government agency…”
It states that no request for information will be denied unless it falls under the exceptions.
It also seeks to require the posting on websites of the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth of the President, Vice President, members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, justices of the Supreme Court, members of the constitutional commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the Armed Forces with general or flag rank.
Under the measure, agencies of all branches of government must also upload on their websites the updated copies of transactions and documents of public interest, including their budgets, bidding documents, contracts, and the summary of their incomes and expenditures.
Death for drug lords
Sen. Ronald dela Rosa wants to revive the death penalty, particularly for drug traffickers.
Dela Rosa said he wanted the penalty to be carried out by a firing squad.
Sen. Bong Go also filed a bill to revive the death penalty for plunderers as well as on people who commit heinous crimes involving illegal drugs.
Go told reporters that he included plunder to help the administration’s campaign against corruption.
“The President is frustrated about corruption,” said Go, Mr. Duterte’s former longtime aide.
The Philippines would not progress as long as people steal from government coffers, he said.
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