Use of online publication of laws and other issuances sought

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A lawmaker from Samar is urging the early passage of his bill mandating the “publication of laws in the online edition of the Official Gazette as a further alternative to the current publication requirement in newspapers of general circulation.”

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We have to keep abreast with the fast-paced development and innovations in information technology to further bring the needed information closer and make it more accessible to the ordinary citizens,” insists Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento (1st Dist.-Western Samar), author of House Bill No. 2309.

The bill is entitled “An Act prescribing electronic or online modalities for the promulgation of laws, resolutions, rules and other issuances, amending for the purpose Sections 18, 24 and 25, Chapter 5, Book 1 of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987.”

The measure, which shall be known as the “Electronic Publication Compliance Act of 2013,” has been referred to the House Committee on Revision of Laws chaired by Rep. Marilyn Primicias-Agabas (6th Dist.-Pangasinan) for appropriate action.

The bill provides that “Government agencies and offices mandated to implement the law shall provide a public and electronic copy thereof in their official web portal; provided, however, that such electronic publication other than that published in the online edition of the Official Gazette shall be for information dissemination only.”

The lawmaker cited Republic Act No. 386 or the Civil Code of the Philippines which sets the effectivity of laws at 15 days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless otherwise provided. However, limited access to and readership of the Official Gazette have denied the public of their constitutional right to information.

Recognizing the limitations and legal implications, Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, mandated the publication of laws in at least two newspapers of general circulation as an alternative to their publication in the Official Gazette, before the same become effective, the author explained.

“This bill seeks to strengthen the people’s right to information by taking advantage of technological development and innovation in information technology,” he said, adding that the current system uses much of government resources in the publication of voluminous documents to meet the requirements imposed by law.

As an example, the author cited the publication of product standards in newspapers by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which is costing the government as much as P90-million annually.

“This amount alone can already be used to finance other strategic projects and development programs and lessen the government’s operational and administrative costs in maintaining efficiency and transparency in its services,” Sarmiento said. PNA

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