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House set to OK bill vs influence peddling

Approval of a bill penalizing acts of influence peddling in government has been assured in the House of Representatives as lawmakers moved to put the finishing touches on the measure.

The House will deliberate on amendments to House Bill 3177 when session resumes Monday. Plenary debates on the bill have been concluded.

Authored by Sorsogon Rep. Evelina G. Escudero, HB 3177 or the “Anti-Influence Peddling Act” hurdled committee level last year with a unanimous approval by the House Committee on Revision of Laws.

The bill proposes to penalize persons guilty of influence peddling with a maximum six years imprisonment and a P100,000 fine or both. Disqualification to hold office is also part of the penalty.

Under HB 3177, influence peddling is defined as an act of representing oneself, either orally or in writing, as being able to facilitate or assist another person transacting business with government in which the contact public official or employee has to intervene in consideration of any present, gift, or material or pecuniary advantage.
Whether the person claiming influence could actually succeed or fail to achieve the desired action is of no consequence and his or her act will still be penalized under the proposal.

In pushing for approval of the measure, Escudero noted that there exists a law that penalizes persons who receive a present, gift, or any material or financial advantage in order to intervene in any government transaction, application, or contract.

However, Escudero said the actual act of offering the intervention by influencing a public official or employee to make a gain in government transaction, contract, or application remain unabated due to the absence of a law penalizing the act.

“It is this gap which this bill seeks to fill by penalizing influence peddling or the mere act of representing oneself to another person having a transaction or request with the government, thus, effectively clipping corruption at its inception even before any gift or present is given and even before there has actually been an intervention in connection with such request or transaction,” the lady lawmaker stated. (Ben R. Rosario)