House OKs bill penalizing influence peddling

By Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 19 2014 09:38 AM | Updated as of Aug 19 2014 05:38 PM

MANILA - The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill penalizing influence peddling in public transactions.

House Bill 4821, or the proposed Anti-Influence Peddling Act, was endorsed by the committee on revision of laws, chaired by Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.

“We have to clip corruption at its inception by preventing the commission of influence peddling,” Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero, principal author of the bill, said.

Co-authors of the measure are Reps. Joselito Mendoza, Henry Oaminal and Primicias-Agabas.

Under HB 4821, influence peddling refers to “the act of representing oneself, either orally or in writing, as being able, whether real or imagined, to influence, facilitate or assist another person having some business, transaction, application, request or contract with the government in which the public official or employee has to intervene, in consideration of any present, gift or material or pecuniary advantage.”

Escudero said existing law penalizes anyone who receives a present, gift or any material or financial advantage as well as those who, without being legally authorized to do so, actually intervenes, directly or indirectly, in any transaction, application, request or contract with the government.

However, she said that prior to receiving any gift or the actual act of intervening is the offer or representation made by a person that he can influence the public official or employee required by law to intervene or be able to assist in a transaction, contract or request with the government which, up to now, remains unabated.

“It is this gap that we want to fill by penalizing influence peddling or the mere act of representing oneself to another person having a transaction or request with the government. Thus, clipping corruption at its initiation even before any gift or present is given and even before there has actually been an intervention in connection with such request or transaction,” Escudero said.

Section 4 of the proposed law provides: “Any person who engages in influence peddling as defined by this Act shall be punished by imprisonment of not more than six years or a fine not exceeding P100,000, or both, and disqualification to hold public office.”