MANILA—Weeks before the 18th Congress opens on July 22, 5 bills, including the "Freedom of Information Act," were filed in the House of Representatives.
Cebu City 1st District Rep. Raul del Mar filed House Bill 11 or the "Mega Cebu Development Authority (MCDA) Act," which seeks to create a special body to coordinate and promote socio-economic growth and sustainable development within Metro Cebu and the Cebu province.
Del Mar also filed House Bill 12 or "Freedom of Information Act," which seeks to provide citizens access to official records, documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, and government research data used as basis for policy development.
"Access to public records means access to evidence vital to proving public officials accountable for wrongdoing. But more than that, it serves as a great deterrent to wrongdoing," Del Mar said, adding he hopes the measure will be prioritized in the 18th Congress.
A version of the measure hurdled third and final reading by the House and Senate during the 14th Congress and was further approved by the bicameral conference committee. However, the bicameral report was only ratified by the Senate as the House failed to have a quorum on the last session day of the 14th Congress.
The lawmaker also filed House Bill 13 or "Motorcycles-For-Hire Act," which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 4136 or the "Land Transportation and Traffic Code" to allow and regulate the use of motorcycles as public utility vehicles.
He also filed House Bill 14 which seeks to provide a light rail transport (LRT) system, metro rail transport (MRT) system or monorail transport system or such other mass transport system in Cebu City and Metro Cebu.
Meanwhile, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman filed House Bill 15 or "Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) Protection Act," which seeks to institute mechanisms for the protection and promotion of the fundamental rights and freedoms of HRDs.
"In light of the continuing intimidation, reprisal, harassment, and vilification of HRDs, and the growing culture of impunity, it is imperative for the Philippine government to enact a law guaranteeing the protection of rights and fundamental freedoms of HRDs," he said.
"The law must also clearly specify the obligations of public authorities to ensure the enjoyment of these rights and freedoms and impose appropriate sanctions to counter impunity."