Press Release
September 14, 2013


Amid the scandal allegedly involving legislators dealing with nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in the conduct of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago wants to take government dealings with lobbyists away from the shadowy rooms and out into the open for public scrutiny.

Santiago re-filed the "Lobbying Accountability Bill" or Senate Bill No. 393, aimed to make public the lobbying activities done with government officials. The bill was originally filed in 2007.

Santiago said that while the records of the deliberations of the Senate and the House of Representatives are open to the public, the behind-the-scenes negotiations are not.

"Lobbying activities greatly influence the government's policy decisions and the legislative process. Lobbyists can change how proposed laws are worded and eventually executed. The public needs to know how much influence these lobbyists have over government officials, particularly Congress," the senator said.

The bill defines lobbying as oral and written communication to public officials intended to introduce, develop, or amend legislation or government policy, including influencing the exercise of lawful authority or power and the expenditure of public money.

"The fact that lobbyists can influence the expenditure of public money is alarming enough to merit their regulation and the close scrutiny of their activities. The demand to know where the people's money go gets louder by the hour," Santiago said.

The senator sought for the immediate passage of her bill after it was revealed in a recent Senate blue ribbon committee hearing that legislators allegedly approach NGOs to implement ghost projects using the PDAF in order to receive kickbacks.

Santiago said that public hearings investigating the suspected anomalous deals of the government--like the one held last Thursday--are proof of public distrust in the way that government transactions are carried out.

"Lobbying activities must be made public in order to restore the people's trust and confidence in the government. It's a step to ensure that there is transparency, honesty, and integrity in the dealings between government and lobbyists," Santiago said.

Under Santiago's proposed law, lobbyists are required to register under the Securities and Exchange Commission. They are also required to disclose various details including the lobbyists' direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activity, and the name of the legislator to whom the lobbying activity is directed.

Link to bill:!.pdf

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