House bill seeks transparency of bicam meetings-A A +A
Friday, October 19, 2012
MANILA -- To avoid watered down versions and controversial provisions in bills, two legislators called on senators and congressmen composing the bicameral conference committee to make their meetings open to the public.
Recently, various bloggers and journalist groups slammed the insertion of the online libel clause in the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 even if it was not agreed upon during plenary deliberations.
The Supreme Court has since clipped the law's implementation for four months because of questions regarding its constitutionality.
Party-list Representatives Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna) and Raymond Palatino (Kabataan), authors of House Bill 6651 (Bicameral Meeting Transparency Act of 2012), said that in the current system highly-debated pieces of legislation like the Reproductive Health bill may also be weakened without the public's scrutiny.
Section 3 of HB 6651 enumerates rules, including informing the public of the venue of the bicameral meeting and allowing the public to attend and observe in said meetings. The bill also mandates Congress to release proceedings of the meeting to the public immediately.
Congressmen and senators who are not members of the committee may be allowed to participate in the discussion and the media can cover the meetings and sessions.
"The impact of the creation of rules that govern society is a major public concern and therefore requires the active participation of citizens. As such, bicameral meetings should not be shrouded in secrecy. We are creating laws for the people; why not open the process to them?" Palatino said.
Palatino added that the passage of this measure should go in tandem with the Freedom of Information bill, which recently failed to get the commitment of President Benigno Aquino III for its hastened enactment. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)