House OKs SIM registration, PCGG abolition, 10 other bills
After a long summer break, the House of Representatives approved 12 bills of national significance upon resumption of regular sessions on Tuesday, including the registration of subscribers’ identity module (SIM) Card and the abolition of the Presidential Commission on
Good Government (PCGG).
Voting 167-6, the House passed on third and final reading House Bill 7233 or the proposed Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act. Six congressmen belonging to the Makabayan bloc opposed the measure.
With 162 affirmative and 10 negative votes, the Lower House also approved House Bill 7376 which strengthens the Office of the Solicitor General by giving it the authority to carry out functions of the PCGG and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC). The PCGG and OGCC will be abolished.
The Senate Committee on Justice, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, does not favor the transfer of the powers of the PCGG to the OSG because such a transfer “is the quickest way to forget” the recovery of the alleged billions of pesos of ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the PCGG remains an important agency and thus should be maintained and strengthened.
“I oppose it. I am taking into position that there will be difficulties if we abolish the PCGG and the Office of the Government Corporate Council,” Drilon said.
Sen. Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV said that if the Duterte government is serious in eradicating corruption, it should work to strengthen the PCGG rather than move to abolish it.
House Bill 7163 that seeks to impose stiff penalties on persons found guilty of throwing hard objects at motor vehicles was approved with 171 votes without any opposition.
HB 7233, authored by Reps. Alfred Vargas (PDP-Laban, Quezon City) and Gus Tambunting (PDP-Laban, Parañaque City), also provides mandatory registration of end-users who are foreign nationals. The measure, a consolidation of 12 bills, can be used as a potent weapon to track down criminals and lawless elements involved in illegal activities.
To protect the privacy of subscribers, the bill provides for a Confidentiality Clause that prohibits disclosure of any information of a subscriber, unless ordered by a competent court or requested by law enforcement agencies.
Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, urged the Senate on Wednesday to prioritize the passage of the SIM Card Registration Act after the House of Representatives approved its own version.
HB 7163, authored by Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, provides for the imposition of penalties ranging from one to 25 years imprisonment against persons found to have hurled stones, rocks, bottles, metal, wooden, or any hard objects on vehicles. It also imposes fines ranging from 110,000 to 1100,000 against offenders, depending on whether or not the act caused damage to the vehicle, injury, or death to persons inside it.
Also passed on third and final reading was HB 7321 which establishes a “no call and no text registration system” aimed at tracking down or preventing unwanted calls and texts messages.
Also approved was HB 5236 providing for the return of the military rank classification for policemen.
Other bills passed by the Lower House are:
• HB 7033 proposing to establish a comprehensive system for registration and licensing of social welfare and development agencies and accreditation of social welfare and development programs and services;
• HB 7193 to provide for a framework for the right to adequate food;
• HB 7260 declaring February 4 of every year as the Philippine American War Memorial Day;
• HB 3988 providing for the conjugal partnership of gains as the governing regime in the absence of a marriage settlement or when the regime agreed upon is void;
• HB 7422 that will integrate the National Building Code of the Philippines as a major subject for engineering and architecture courses;
• HB 7392 proposing to institutionalize the Alternative Learning System in the basic education of out-of-school children, youth and adults, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, and other marginalized sectors of society;
• HB 7436 providing for the abolition of the Road Board and transferring to the Department of Public Works and Highways the distribution and management of the motor vehicle user’s charge collections. (With reports from Mario B. Casayuran and Hannah L. Torregoza)