Silly bills in Congress: From anti-planking to anti-dildo bills

Published by rudy Date posted on September 23, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – A political analyst has criticized lawmakers for filing “silly bills ” in the national legislature.

This, after Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo drew flak for filing House Bill 5316 or the anti-planking bill the other day.

UP Vice President for Public Affairs Prospero de Vera said while there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents lawmakers from filing shallow, silly or parochial bills, lawmakers should first focus their attention on bills with more significance to a larger group of people.

“What’s the overall impact of that on the country? What is the best bang for the buck for every peso spent on salaries of legislators, (for) pesos spent in maintaining the House and Senate? You’re talking about the precious time of Congress. If Congress was not doing anything at all or has no major pending bills or issues they have to address, OK lang patulan maliliit na local issues,” he said in an interview.

“But if they have the FOI [Freedom of Information Bill] not moving, the Reproductive Health Bill stuck in floor debates, a bill to increase sin taxes, crucially needed then you ask the question. Kahit di labag sa batas, mas gugustuhin pagtuunan pansin yung (importante). Unahin muna nila yung panukalang batas at problema na kailangan ng bayan (ng solusyon).”

De Vera said the anti-planking bill is a proposal “that was not well thought off, not just on legal grounds but whole idea on why file an anti-planking bill given all bigger problems the country is facing which needs congressional attention.”

“Halimbawa, imbes pag-isipan yung planking mas gusto na pag-usapan yung budget,” he said.

He said some national concerns are covered by laws that no longer need to be revisited by Congress. “Itong mga nakaraang buwan, yung mga issue na may kinalaman sa isyu ng gubyerno kasi even issues for example relating to MRT, LRT fares, Congress should stop doing it eh. There are already laws covering it. ”

He said he is not against planking, he just wants to ensure that it is done safely. “Di sakop planking sa bahay, art, exercise sa eskwelahan,” he said.

Castelo, however, defended his bill, saying that it is something relevant enough to be tackled by a national legislature.

Castelo said his bill does not penalize planking but merely seeks to regulate planking in schools.

“Wala po itong penalty clause. Di po natin i-criminalize ang planking. Ang sanction lamang po pagagalitan kayo ng eskwelahan.Yung sa estudyante ho kasi, may rules and regulation manual. Gusto ko isama as one of prohibited acts. Pwede tayong magpamahayag ng damdamin saloobin sa safe na pamahalaan. Wag i-endanger life ng kabataan na andito. Hintayin pa ba natin may maaksidente?”

Castelo said this is not the only bill he has filed. He said he asked the President to certify as urgent the review of the Oil Deregulation Law.

He also called for the probe of luxury vehicles and an alleged land grabbing scam in Quezon City. He’s also been lobbying for subsidies for MRT and LRT fares and the increase in teachers’ salaries.

Bill vs sex toys

Aside from Castelo’s anti-planking bill, another bill perceived in such a light is House Bill 4509, filed last May by the Buhay party-list.

The bill penalizes the possession with intent to distribute and production of sex toys like vibrators or any device “for the physical stimulation of human genitals for anything of pecuniary value.” The bill penalizes those producing or selling sex toys with imprisonment and/or fines of up to P30,000.

In the Senate, Sen. Manny Villar filed Senate Bill 2966, which regulates the use of sidewalks. One of the provisions of the bill is the ban on the vending or selling of foods, magazines, newspapers, cigarettes, brooms, watches or jewelry, shoes, footwear and other items. It also bans the use of sidewalks for: “shoe shine” stalls, house chores such as washing and hanging clothes, and bathing; vehicle garage or vehicle repair; setting up of basketball court or goal; storing softdrinks, wine, liquor bottles and cases; drinking liquor and beverages and holding picnics or gatherings.

In the case of the sex toys bill, De Vera said: “It’s a bill where a legislator imposes values and religious biases on the rest of the people. That has no place in Congress. Congress should not be legislating morality and religious beliefs.”

On the Villar bill, de Vera said: “Yan trabaho na ng LGU [local government unit] yan. I’m sure in most LGUs, there are ordinances prohibiting this. If a legislator files a bill (that) duplicates work of legislators…Mas madaling pasa ordinansa sa LGU. The legislative process is not as tedious, as complicated sa national.”

Renaming of roads, buildings

De Vera also said lawmakers keep on filing bills seeking the renaming of roads and government infrastructures.

“Ang pinaka-obvious yung renaming streets and schools, construct artesian wells and multipurpose centers. Yan dapat di na pinagkakabalahan ng Kongreso. Nandiyan na iyan sa LGU. Congress already devolved these to LGUs. Congress must control the tendency to keep filing bills.”

De Vera notes the legislative mill is already tough enough to hurdle as it is. Under the bicameral legislature set up, any bill filed in either the House or the Senate must go through committee and plenary scrutiny, debates and voting in both chambers. That’s on top of lawmakers’ responsibilities to articulate the concerns of their constituents and investigate in aid of legislation.

“Mahirap dahil yung proseso ng paggawa ng batas is a long, deliberative process. Swerte nang makapasa ka ng 2% ng bills na naka-file sa isang legislative year,” he said.

De Vera said there is almost always a deluge of bills in each Congress. As of September 2011, there are 2,529 bills filed in the House of Representatives.

Topping the list of lawmakers with the most number of bills filed is Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, with 570, followed by brother Maximo (518), Buboy Syjuco (308), Bernadette Herrera-Dy (284), Sonny Angara (279), Sonny Escudero (263), Girlie Villarosa (261), Marceliono Teodoro (249) and Erico Aumentado (229).

Castelo has 216 bills filed.

De Vera urged the public to learn its lesson, saying lawmakers won’t be in office if not for their votes.

“Dapat maging aral itong pagkakataong ito para magbago pagtingin ng botante sa pinipiling mambabatas. Malapit na ulit elections sa Kongreso sa 2013. Tanong ko sa nagagalit sa anti-planking bill , ano gagawin niyo sa kanya pag siya bumalik at hihingi basbas sa 2013? Medyo bawas na karapatan niyo magreklamo kung siya ulit. That applies to all lawmakers. It requires public to scrutinize the performance of the House.” –RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

April – Month of Planet Earth

“Full speed to renewables!”

 

Continuing
Solidarity with CTU Myanmar,
trade unions around the world,
for democracy in Myanmar,
with the daily protests of
people in Myanmar against
the military coup and
continuing oppression.

 

Accept National Unity Government
(NUG) of Myanmar.
Reject Military!

#WearMask #WashHands
#Distancing
#TakePicturesVideos

Time to support & empower survivors.
Time to spark a global conversation.
Time for #GenerationEquality to #orangetheworld!
Trade Union Solidarity Campaigns
Get Email from NTUC
Article Categories