Bill filed to make bureaucrats use ‘plain language’
MANILA, Philippines—Neophyte Senator Grace Poe has filed a bill seeking the mandatory use of “plain language” in the bureaucracy to make it easier for people to avail themselves of government services and increase administrative efficiency.
Poe, head of the Senate committee on public information, patterned her Senate Bill No. 1092 after the Public Law 111-274 enacted by the US Congress 2010.
She said the American plain-writing law simplified application and other official forms, and reduced the number of errors as well as the resources needed to fix them.
“This bill is patterned after the newest but most effective laws of the United States…. And as it is being introduced in this legislation, [the] Plain Writing Act calls for the use of simple, concise, easily understandable words and phrases in all government documents,” Poe said in her bill’s explanatory note.
“The intention is to avoid jargon, redundancy, ambiguity and obscurity. This is to help also the citizens in availing government services,” she added.
Section Three of the bill provides that all government agencies adopt plain writing in all their communications and in the implementation of their basic functions, mandates and services.
It defined plain writing as “clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience or constituents.”
The section also provides that plain writing be used in, but not limited to, the following: information about any government benefit or service; forms necessary for obtaining any government benefit or filing taxes; and documents that explain to the public how to comply with a requirement the government agencies seek to administer, enforce and provide.
In other words, according to the bill, “plain writing shall also cover letters, forms, instructions, notices and publications.”
All government agencies, including state-run corporations, will also be required to adopt plain writing on their Web sites or relevant portals.
The bill also seeks the creation of a Section on Plain Writing under the Civil Service Commission. The section, which the bill proposes be given an annual budget of P10 million, “shall develop and issue guidance or guidelines in implementing the requirements of this Act.”
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