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The creation of the Paperless Session in the province of Agusan del Sur started as a simple concept when I, as a provincial board member, was elected Secretary-General of the Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines (PBMLP). As such, I attended meetings of the National Executive Officers and the National Board with a

sizeable number of documents packed into several bags, which made every trip arduous and tiresome. To top it all, every member in attendance had to be provided these materials which meant the documents had to be reproduced -- an expensive and tedious task.

Hence, the concept of paperless meetings was envisioned by this writer to put an end to the recurrent problems brought about by the above mentioned dilemma.

At first, the PBMLP Officers were hesitant to accept the notion. Some questioned the concept's reliability and feasibility. It was this author's persistence, through demonstrations, that slowly gained the Board's trust, and later, full acceptance. As Secretary-General, I served the league with utmost dedication and efficiency, thus, prompting the National Board to commend my efforts.

The successful paperless meetings of the PBMLP inspired me to introduce and develop the concept of paperless sessions in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Agusan del Sur. As Provincial Vice Governor-elect in 2007, I discussed it with Governor-elect Maria Valentina G. Plaza and, then incumbent, Governor Adolph Edward G. Plaza. Both of them readily assured their full support.

I later discussed the paperless session concept with some ITU personnel and SP employees. I explained what I thought should be done and requested them to procure the gadgets needed for the concept to work perfectly while keeping mindful of the legislative processes required under existing laws, rules and regulations in holding formal sessions. The paperless session transition team came up with their recommendations after a week.

Then came the arduous task of explaining to and convincing the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan into accepting the new method. Like the PBMLP national officers, the SP members were, at first, reluctant. I insisted that the paperless method would work out better in the long run, and gradually the SP members gave in and introduced an amendment to the then existing Internal Rules of Procedure (particularly, to the section which mandated the distribution in advance of hard copies of all documents employed in a particular session).

Instead, soft copies of all documents were now to be uploaded into the SP Members' respective lap top units, eliminating the need for reproduction, saving on costs and man-hours.

With all the barriers for a paperless session eliminated, a project proposal was formulated and approved, paving the way for the acquisition of the needed equipment. As soon as the electronics arrived, a six-module computer literacy training immediately followed to enable the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the SP Secretary and their staff to learn the basics of computer operations, the mechanics of the paperless session, and data management.

On September 24, 2007, during the 10th regular session of the 12th Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the first official paperless session was conducted, paving the way to a new era in local legislation in the Philippines.


The regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is held every Monday. All documents (agenda, minutes of the previous session, measures for deliberation, ordinances and resolutions for first, second and third readings, petitions and memorials, resolutions and ordinances from lower Sanggunians for review and approval, etc.) are scanned to produce soft copies (in PDF format) and uploaded into the laptops of the presiding officer, members of the SP, Secretary to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and other SP staff, every Thursday or Friday. This gives all session participants the opportunity to review the matters to be taken up in the next session.

Assigned SP staff members are tasked to scan all documents for deliberation. These documents are hyperlinked to a specific agendum. During session proper, everything is projected onto a white screen mounted on the wall of the session hall. During discussion, corrections and amendments introduced by the members of the Sangguniang are instantly integrated into the draft measure. Duly approved drafts are then printed into final copies for signing.


Based on the existing records of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Agusan del Sur, an average of 4,758 sheets of bond paper are used per session. Fifteen (15) sets of all documents included in deliberations are produced. With the introduction of the paperless session, no bond paper required, thus saving on costs, man-hours, and most importantly, saving our environment -- less trees converted into paper. Other notable advantages include the faster and more efficient session process, faster retrieval of documents, easier data management, and no more storage hassle.

Furthermore, SP members are also applying the new mandate in their committee hearings. Committee reports are now done paperless, except for the mandatory requirement of one (1) hard copy set bearing the signatures of the reporting committee chairman and his/her members. The signed committee reports are then scanned and uploaded into their respective laptops, thereby providing every Sanggunian member a copy of the report.

One can just imagine, if the 81 Sangguniang Panlalawigans (Provincial Boards), 120 Sangguniang Panlungsods (City Councils), 1,508 Sangguniang Bayans (Municipal Councils), and 40,043 Sangguniang Barangays (Village Councils) in the whole country, if the senate and the house of representatives go paperless in their respective sessions, how much money can the country save in terms of paper and reproduction costs? How much manpower can be spared?

How many trees can we rescue every year as paper demands tremendously decline?

Now, if the whole world goes paperless, how many more generations can count on a future with fresh air? Would it not be good for the environment? LET US ALL GO PAPERLESS, SAVE OUR TREES AND DO OUR PARTS TO CONTAIN GLOBAL WARMING!

By: (Former Vice Governor) SP Member Santiago B. Cane, Jr.

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