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Bill vs influence peddling in gov’t

Administration and opposition blocs in the House of Representatives have given the go signal for the approval of a bill penalizing influence peddling in government.

Previously passed on third and final reading during the 16th Congress, House Bill 3177 is expected to breeze through second reading approval when Congress resumes next month.

HB 3177 imposes up to six years imprisonment and maximum of P100,000 or both for acts determined by the courts to be influence peddling.

Authored by Sorsogon Rep. Evelina G. Escudero, HB 3177 seeks to prevent corruption in government right at its inception and deter the commission of influence peddling.

The bill defines influence peddling as “the act of representing oneself, either orally or in writing, as being able, whether real or imagined, to influence, facilitate, or assist another person having some business, transaction, application, request, or contract with the government in which the public official or employee has to intervene, in consideration of any present, gift, or material or pecuniary advantage.”

“If enacted into law, the bill is believed to be an effective deterrent to nip corruption in the bud and prior to any damage being inflicted upon government coffers as well as on our people with legitimate transactions or dealings with the government,” said Escudero, chairperson of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture.

The senior administration lawmaker noted that influence peddling is different from the nearly similar act penalized under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Under the anti-graft law, it is unlawful for a government official or employee to receive a present, gift, or any material or financial advantage as well as those who, without being legally authorized to do so, actually intervene, directly or indirectly, in any transactions, applications, requests, or contract with the government.
(Ben R. Rosario)