FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF ELECTRONIC COMMERCE ACT, TO INCLUDE LGUS, PUSHED

MANILA — A Davao del Norte lawmaker has underscored the need for the entire government bureaucracy, including local government units, to fully implement the use of electronic technology in its transactions.

“Aside from promoting transparency, transacting business in electronic form will improve and simplify public service and reduce the expense of government,” Rep. Anthony G. Del Rosario, author of HB No. 80, stressed.

Noting the time constraint faced by the 16th Congress, he is confident that the current or the incoming legislature would give due consideration to the measure that would certainly keep government and its people in-step with the fast developing modern electronic technologies.

HB 80, which is pending with the Committee on Revision of Laws, is entitled “An Act providing for the full implementation of the use of Electronic documents and signatures in Government transactions, amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 8792, otherwise known as the ‘Electronic Commerce Act of 2000’.”

Republic Act No. 8792. Del Rosario noted, recognizes the use of electronic technology in commercial and non-commercial transactions.

“In fact, Section 27 of said Act mandates all departments, bureaus, offices and agencies of the government, as well as all government-owned and –controlled corporations (GOCCs) to issue permits, licenses or certificates of registration, or approval or provide for the method and manner of payment or settlement of fees and other obligations to the government utilizing electronic technology,” the author noted.

However, the present Electronic Commerce Act does not cover local government units and has no provision imposing the corresponding administrative sanctions for non-compliance with the law.

The measure also seeks to require the government agencies to submit annual report status to the congressional oversight committee to ensure compliance with the mandate of the law.

Thus, under HB 80, Section 27 is proposed to be amended (note: amendments in big bold letters) to read as follows:

Section 27. Government Use of Electronic Data Messages, Electronic Documents and Electronic Signatures. – Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, within two (2) years from the date of the effectivity of this Act, all departments, bureaus, offices and agencies of the government, as well as all government-owned and –controlled corporations AND ALL LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS, that pursuant to law require or accept the filing of documents, require that documents be created, or retained and/or submitted, issue permits, licenses or certificates of registration or approval, or provide for the method and manner of payment or settlement of fees and other obligations to the government, shall – (a) xxx xxxx (d) sub-paragraphs 1) to xxxx 6) xxx .

Likewise, insert the following paragraph into the abovementioned sub-paragraph 6): “THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS, BUREAUS, OFFICES AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT, GOVERNMENT-OWNED AND –CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS SHALL SUBMIT AN ANNUAL REPORT TO THE CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CREATED UNDER SECTION 35 THEREOF RELATIVE TO THEIR COMPLIANCE WITH THE MANDATE OF THIS ACT.”

Furthermore, SEC. 33 of said Act is also proposed to be amended to read as follows:

SEC. 33. Penalties. The following Acts shall be penalized by fine (and/or) OR imprisonment OR BOTH, as follows:

a) xxx; b) xxx; c) xxx; d) THE HEADS OF THE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS, BUREAUS, OFFICES AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT, GOVERNMENT-OWNED AND –CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS WHO FAIL TO COMPLY WITH THE MANDATE OF SECTION 27 OF THIS ACT SHALL BE ADMINISTRATIVELY LIABLE UNDER EXISTING CIVIL SERVICE LAWS AND REGULATION; AND e) Other violations of the provisions of this Act shall be penalized with a maximum penalty of One Million Pesos (Php 1,000,000.00) or six years imprisonment. PNA / northboundasia.com