Lawmaker seeks overhaul of Official Gazette charter

MANILA, June 4 -- A lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Tuesday said there is a need to give the Official Gazette (OG) a much-needed update in its charter to make it more attuned to modern times.

AANGAT TAYO Partylist Rep. Harlin Neil Abayon III said online or web publishing is the latest means of information dissemination and must therefore be considered as an official mode of publication of laws.

In his House Bill 5918, newly-signed Philippine laws shall take effect 15 days following their upload in the website of the Official Gazette or in the news websites of two newspapers of general printed circulation in the country.

The current set-up allows laws to take effect 15 days after completion of publication in the Official Gazette or newspaper of general circulation.

"Printing on paper is no longer just the mode of publication now. In fact, publishing via the internet has become the new mode of wider dissemination of information to the general public," Abayon said in his statement.

"It is of vital importance to the country that its citizens and visitors are well informed of the laws of the land via the latest means of information dissemination," he added.

The Official Gazette is the official journal of the Republic of the Philippines. Its website -- http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/ -- is the online version of the print edition.

HB 5918, or the "Revised Charter of the Official Gazette," also proposes to place the control, supervision, and editorial authority over the Official Gazette in the hands of the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

"To hasten the process of improvement of this crucial link on matters of law between the State and its citizens, the Revised Charter of the Official Gazette is now proposed," Abayon said.

Abayon noted that while the Official Gazette is currently being administered by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) through an executive order, there is no written law spelling out that the PCOO holds control over the government's official journal.

Executive Order No. 4, dated 30 July 2010, placed the Official Gazette under the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office during the Benigno S. Aquino III administration.

"No other E.O. has been issued involving the Official Gazette has been issued since July 30, 2010, not even after the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office ceased to exist when its Secretary resigned from government," he said.

Abayon also explained that the transfer of the Official Gazette to the Court Administrator also seeks to separate and insulate the Official Gazette from the inherent political character and nature of the Office of the President.

"The Official Gazette as a tool of Justice, must also be blind to bias and so its operations must be in the hands of the branch of government whose mandate is the interpretation of laws," he added.

Under the bill, original signed copies of laws shall be maintained by the Malacanang Records Office and the National Archives of the Philippines.

The Malacanang Records Office shall transmit to the Court Administrator an original signed copy and an electronic version within 20 hours from the time a law is signed by the President or lapses into law.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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