By Chito Chavez
Several environmental groups have pushed for the proposed shift to paperless transactions at the House of Representatives.
Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Cavite 7th District Representative Crispin “Boying” Remulla had earlier announced that the chamber’s leadership has supported the paperless Congress to reduce paper costs estimated at P9 million a year and to digitize the legislative process.
This is among the reforms being considered by the House leadership under the new rules of the 18th Congress to be adopted this coming December after the approval of the 2020 national budget.
The move toward a paperless Congress has elicited support from green groups working for a Zero Waste, toxics-free and sustainable society who cited the many benefits of going digital and paperless.
“We welcome the chamber’s planned switch to paperless transactions as this will surely cut the costs for procuring paper and for the printing of voluminous legislative documents such as bills that do not necessarily become a law.
This will reduce long-term resource use and associated costs and bring greater transparency to the lawmaking process,” said Jovito Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner EcoWaste Coalition.
“A paperless Congress should improve legislative efficiency, while cutting the expenses not only for bond papers, but also for folders, inks, toners and other supplies. The savings can be used instead for meaningful programs to meet our people’s basic needs,” suggested Sonia Mendoza, Chairman Mother Earth Foundation.
“Aside from reduced paper use and waste, going paperless will cut storage space for legislative documents that are often printed in multiple copies, as well as cut staff time in maintaining such documents. With more efficient operations, we can hope for faster deliberation of important bills, particularly strategic environmental and health measures such as those banning single-use plastics, foreign waste importation, and hazardous chemicals, products and processes,” stated Rene Pineda, President, Consumer Rights for Safe Food.
“Congress going paperless as main method of communication should be definitely supported. Hopefully, this reform will enhance legislative transparency. But there should be some room for flexibility to print if needed as not everyone, especially the basic sectors, may have access to digital information. We hope other government offices will go paperless as well,” said Beau Baconguis, Plastics Campaigner Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives-Asia Pacific and Asia Pacific Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic.
“OK, let’s go paperless. But when needed, only use paper for emergency and urgent communication,” added Esther Pacheco, President Concerned Citizens Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability (COCAP).