Miriam: What happened to my 'anti-epal', anti-political dynasty bills?

Posted at 03/01/2014 5:43 PM

MANILA -- Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has expressed disappointment that her "anti-epal" and anti-political dynasty bills are still "languishing" in the Senate.

Senate Bill No. 54 or the Anti-Signage of Public Works Bill aims to bar politicians from claiming credit for projects built with public funds by putting their names on signages.

Senate Bill Nos. 55 and 1580 or the Anti-Political Dynasty Bills, meanwhile, seek an end to political dynasty in the country.

"I am disappointed. Without public clamor, these bills will never see the light of day. The committees to which these bills were referred are sitting on them," Santiago said in a statement on Saturday.

The Anti-Signage of Public Works Bill was referred to the Committee of Civil Service and Government Reorganization chaired by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, while the Anti-Political Dynasty Bills were referred to the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Organization chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.

Santiago said she has written to both senators requesting for a public hearing on her bills, which she said "have been pending in the Senate for a prolonged period of time."

"It would be best for the legislative process to ensure that the bills are at least reported out to the plenary session, considering their wide implications on our political system," she said.

Aside from those two bills, the senator said she has four other priority bills that have yet to be acted upon:

- S.B. No. 56, or the Deceased Organ Donor Bill;
- S.B. No. 57, or the Magna Carta for Call Center Workers;
- S.B. No. 186, or the HIV and AIDS Policy and Plan Bill; and
- S.B. No. 185, or the Certificate of Intention to Run for Public Office (CIRPO) Bill.

The CIRPO bill requires any person interested in running for public office to file a certificate of intention to run six months before the deadline for the filing of a certificate of candidacy.

As the principal author of S.B. No. 53, or the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF), Santiago earlier wrote Senator Ralph Recto, chair of the committee on science and technology, requesting for an immediate public hearing.

She emphasized that her bill seeks to repeal Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which was recently upheld in part by a Supreme Court ruling last 18 February 2014.

"My bill - in stark contrast to the Supreme Court ruling - characterizes the crime of online libel as unconstitutional, because the provision violates both the 'void for vagueness,' and 'overbreadth' doctrines in constitutional law. Moreover, the Supreme Court ruling appears to go against the global inclination to decriminalize libel," she had said in her letter.

Recto has set the committee hearing for the MCPIF on Monday, March 3.

Santiago has offered to co-sponsor the bill with Recto.

"To emphasize my vigorous support of this bill, I respectfully offer to be your co-sponsor, once the bill is reported out at plenary session. But first there has to be a public hearing so that netizens can be given a forum for airing their opposition to the recent Supreme Court decision, particularly where the decision upholds the constitutionality of online libel," she said.