Divorce, FOI other key bills refiled in Congress
Among these are the Freedom of Information (FOI) and Absolute Divorce bills, which were approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading in the last Congress but failed to get the Senate nod.
Michael Varcas

Divorce, FOI other key bills refiled in Congress

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers have refiled several measures ahead of the opening of the 18th Congress on July 22.

Among these are the Freedom of Information (FOI) and Absolute Divorce bills, which were approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading in the last Congress but failed to get the Senate nod.

Sen. Grace Poe refiled the FOI bill yesterday as part of her advocacy for citizens’ access to information, transparency and accountability.

“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,” Poe said in the explanatory note of the proposed People’s Freedom of Information Act of 2019.

As chair of the public information committee, Poe spearheaded the approval of the measure on third and final reading in 2014. 

In 2016, she filed her version of the bill and sponsored it on the floor. 

Poe said an FOI law would strengthen the existing Executive Order No. 2, which operationalizes FOI but only in the executive branch.

At the House of Representatives, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman refiled the proposed bill instituting absolute divorce in the country.

Lagman said the Absolute Divorce Bill is a sequel to the Reproductive Health Act, which he principally authored.

 “Like the RH Law, the bill granting absolute divorce is a pro-woman legislation because it is the wives in irreconcilably broken marriages who need relief from their husbands’ philandering and cruelty,” he said.

Anti-dynasty bill

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has refiled a bill prohibiting political dynasties.

 Drilon vowed to work for the passage of Senate Bill 11 or the Anti-Political Dynasty Act during the 18th Congress.

The measure seeks to prohibit a politician’s spouse or relatives of an incumbent official seeking reelection to hold or run for any elective office in the same province in the same election.

Wiretapping, terrorism, plunder

 A bill filed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson will give law enforcers more teeth against crimes such as drugs, money-laundering and coups by allowing wiretaps against those involved in such cases.

Senate Bill 22, which seeks to amend and update the 54-year-old Republic Act 4200, also contains provisions protecting people’s right to privacy.

He also filed a measure that gives the government more tools to protect the public from terrorism.

Senate Bill 21 plugs the loopholes in Republic Act 9372 (the Human Security Act of 2007) so the authorities can prevent terrorist attacks or bring the perpetrators to justice.

Lacson also filed Senate Bill 23 or the proposed Budget Reform for Village Empowerment Act.

The measure guarantees an annual Local Development Fund to help local government units finance their own projects.

Sen. Christopher Go filed yesterday Senate Bill 207 seeking to reinstate the death penalty for certain heinous crimes involving illegal drugs and plunder.

“The crippling problems brought by dangerous drugs and corruption must be answered with a firm and decisive solution,” the explanatory note of the bill read.

“Due to their pervasive nature and the impunity with which criminals operate, these crimes must be met with a punishment based not only deterrence, but also on retribution, to leave no doubt that there can never be any gain for anyone who chooses to commit these heinous crimes,” he said.

He said the Constitution provides the death penalty is reserved for heinous crimes.

Republic Act 7659 or the death penalty law was repealed in 2006.

Under Go’s bill, the death penalty will be administered through lethal injection as designated by Republic Act 8177 enacted in 1996.

Sen. Lito Lapid filed Senate Bill 53, which aims to expand the coverage of the crime of economic sabotage by punishing not only syndicates but also individuals who commit fraudulent investment schemes.

Under the existing law, Lapid said economic sabotage may only be committed by a group of at least five persons.

He said the measure would penalize individuals who either act alone or in a group in carrying out investment schemes that defraud victims of billions of pesos.

Minimum age

Child rights advocates slammed yesterday Senate President Vicente Sotto III for refiling a bill that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility despite public opposition.

The Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns reiterated that lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility would not curb the country’s crime rate and would not solve the social victimization of children involved in anti-social activities.

The group noted that the government should address its root causes: poverty, joblessness, low wages and landlessness.

Sotto filed Senate Bill 5 on Monday, the first day of the 18th Congress. It seeks to amend Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 by lowering the criminal age of responsibility to above nine years.

The group warned of bigger protests against the measure.

Other measures filed by lawmakers are the Artists Safety on the Set Bill and the proposed Eddie Garcia Act or the Actors Occupational Safety and Health Standard Bill.

The bills seek to institutionalize a mandatory occupational safety, health and emergency response system for artists.

Reps. Mikee Romero and Bernadette Herrera-Dy of party-list 1 Pacman and Bagong Henerasyon, respectively, said the accident during the filming of Garcia’s television show should not happen again. With Delon Porcalla, Helen Flores, Janvic Mateo, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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