Miriam wants lobbying regulated
MANILA - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago wants lobbying by groups or individuals in Congress regulated and made transparent amid the controversy over the pork barrel scam.
Santiago has decried the lobbying by Janet Lim-Napoles with members of Congress, which ended with the businesswoman getting billions of pesos from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of the legislators.
"Lobbying activities greatly influence the government's policy decisions and the legislative process. Lobbyists can change how proposed laws are worded and eventually executed. The public need to know how much influence these lobbyists have over government officials," she said.
Santiago has re-filed her proposed lobbying accountability bill or Senate Bill 393, which is aimed at making public the lobbying activities done with government officials.
The bill defines lobbying as an oral and written communication to public officials intended to introduce, develop or amend legislation or government policy, including influencing the exercise of lawful authority or power and the expenditure of public money.
"The fact that lobbyists can influence the expenditure of public money is alarming enough to merit their regulation and the close scrutiny of their activities. The demand to know where the people's money goes gets louder by the hour," the senator said.
Santiago said the bill should be approved at the soonest possible time to prevent illegal schemes like those involving Napoles and some lawmakers.
"Lobbying activities must be made public in order to restore the people's trust and confidence in the government. It's a step to ensure that there is transparency, honesty, and integrity in the dealings between government and lobbyists," she added.
Under the bill, lobbyists are required to register under the Securities and Exchange Commission and disclose details, including their direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activity, and the name of the legislator to whom the lobbying is directed.