Towards Effective Legislation

20 October 2013

20-Oct-2013-Lions Club District 301-A2 Manila Hotel (93)

Speech of Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., delivered at the 31st Anniversary and 32nd Induction Ceremonies of the
Lions Clubs International District 301-A2
Manila Hotel, Manila

To the Officers and Members of District 301-A2 and to the Club Presidents, Officers, past and present, of the various Lions Clubs of this District 301-A2, and your loyal spouses, distinguished Guests, esteemed Friends, good evening!

Let me begin by sincerely thanking you all for the invitation to address you, the members of this prestigious District belonging to Lions Clubs International, a renowned worldwide organization that has left a strong imprint and has placed a very credible reputation worldwide of engaging in community service not only in the Philippines, but in the world community of nations!

Of course, I will be remiss if I do not extend my sincerest congratulations to your newly elected officers and directors and to warmly congratulate you all as you celebrate your 31st Anniversary.

As your letter invitation indicated, your district members would like to know of my legislative agenda as a Senator of the Republic in my present position as Chairman of the Committee on Local Government and the Committee on Public Works in the Philippine Senate.

But before that, let me take this singular opportunity to discuss with you how a Senator, or any legislator for that matter, can be identified with a particular legislative agenda. The legislative agenda of a legislator can be perceived through the following: first, through the proposed bills and resolutions that he personally files; second, through the bills, though not necessarily his own, that the legislator prioritizes and facilitates processing in the committees he chairs; third, through bills, whether his creation or not, that he individually supports, espouses and votes for in the plenary, either because of personal conviction or by way of party affiliation and advocacies, fourth, bills resulting from the Legislator’s initiatives together with his fellow Committee members in the various committees that he chairs.

To complete the picture, law-making does not stop there. There is the counterpart bills or proposals from the Lower House Representatives that we have to coordinate with and consider in relation to similar bills or measures sponsored on the Senate through the various standing committees. Of course, the final action lies on the President of the Republic, who through his signature or veto, determines the final result of whatever bills have been passed by both Houses of Congress for final enactment into law.

Experience and areas of strengths of the legislator can play a significant role in the shaping of the legislative agenda of that legislator.

In my case, my long experience as a local executive in Ilocos Norte did play a crucial role in my critical understanding of the issues and problems confronting our local government structure and the system of delivery of services by local government units to their constituents.

Similarly, my constant involvement with the Infrastructure build-up of our province as well as the public works projects of the LGUs assisted by the funds made available by our office, contributed largely to my appointment as Chair of the Senate Public Works Committee. Of course I would like to emphasize here that as early as in my teens and growing up in Malacañang in my younger days, I was consistently exposed to the Infrastructure programs and projects of my late father, especially when I was told to join him in his visits to his priority projects all over the country.

In short, all these experiences were precisely considered by my colleagues and by the leadership of the Upper House in entrusting to me the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Local Government in the 15th Congress, and in allowing me to retain it even after three years for this present 16th Congress.

This 16th Congress, I was again named the Chair of the Local Government Committee. And to replace my being Chair of the Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement, this time I was appointed as the new Chair of the Public Works Committee, in addition to a number of vice-chairmanships and memberships in other Senate committees. This year too I was given a seat in the Commission on Appointments representing one of the Senate seats.

This is precisely why, in the course of the years, I have taken as much time as possible to participate in many different public fora on the discussions regarding the pressing issues of our country, both at the local and national levels.

I also firmly believe that there is a need for our legislature to be able to contribute to nation-building through individual bills which are the outputs from the committee hearings and technical working group (TWG) meetings, consequently resulting in the passage of laws, resolutions, and other important plenary decisions of the Senate.

Friends, I can report to you with certain amount of confidence and pride that over the past three years of my senatorial stint, we have managed to produce a decent portfolio of accomplishments that can be considered worthy of and in fulfillment of the expectations of our countrymen.

In my first three years as a Senator, I filed thirty-four (34) bills, of which five (5) were signed into law by the President: one penalizing driving under the influence of alcohol and dangerous drugs; the second was defining the use and protection of the Red Cross; third was the creation of the Regional Trial Court branches; next was on the improvement of our National Health Insurance; and lastly, the Cybercrime law.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, we were also able to pass legislation by acting on the bills of our counterparts in the House of Representatives geared at reengineering our local government structure, through the creation of certain provinces and barangays, conversion of qualified municipalities into cities, reapportionment of legislative districts. One example is Quezon City, which gained two (2) more districts in July 2012 in addition to the four (4) existing before that.

In my 3-year chairmanship in the 15th Congress of the Senate Committee on Urban Development, Housing, and Resettlement, we were able to pass on third reading the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and prioritized other bills on socialized housing, including a more concrete bill focused on housing program for government employees.

I also registered my official positions on other important legislative proposals of national import. We registered a yes-vote to the K-to-12 education system, and to the reproductive health bill, bearing in mind the health of our underprivileged pregnant mothers.

On the “sin tax” bill, I voiced out my strong opposition to the very exorbitant increase in the excise taxes on tobacco products, which I noticed was then being pushed without strong economic rationale. Needless to say, I was also deeply concerned for the livelihood of our tobacco farmers, especially from my home region in the North, who, I believe, have been adversely affected by the eventual enactment of the law.

I also supported the Cybercrime law, which despite some of its flaws, is a very important piece of legislation for us amid the intensifying effects of the information or digitization age. I do agree that some of the observed flaws could stand amendments as soon as possible.

This 16th Congress, I have so far filed forty (40) bills. The areas covered by these bills are for the most part in the areas of education, local government, environment, agriculture, housing, cooperatives and public works.

Now, as to this Congress, I authored the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections and introduced the much needed reforms to this very important sector of our local governance. This bill has been signed into law by the President and the first bill to be enacted into law by the 16th Congress of the Philippines. I have also refiled a bill to increase the monetary benefits of our barangay officials, workers and volunteers. There are many more, but to mention these all would take all evening!

Finally, since my appointment in this Congress as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works, I have initially conducted a hearing with the Department of Public Works and Highways with regard to the effects of climate change directly causing the ever increasing flood problems not only in Metro Manila but in the outlying provinces of our country as well. Our first Committee hearing focused on the flood management plan of the government and on proposed measures regarding disaster mitigation through the effective and integrated management of the country’s river basins, primarily in Metro Manila. Also deliberated upon at this hearing were the plans and programs of the National Irrigation Administration with regard to the state of our farm irrigation systems in relation to our priority program of food security.

In the area of public infrastructure, I equally share the vision for a much bigger focus on the improvement of our road network and other concomitant infrastructures, if we are to accelerate our nation’s economic development. Thus, just this last Thursday, your Committee on Public Works, held a hearing to deliberate on bills that seek to reallocate the disposition of monies collected from the Motor Vehicles User’s Charge (MVUC), along with another bill that proposes to lower the allowable truckload limit from 13.5 klg to 12 klg per axle.

This multi-billion MVUC’s fund, which, as we all know, is charged to us vehicle owners and which are collected when our motor vehicles are registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) on a yearly basis, is proposed to allocate 50% of it to a new purpose which is to create a special mass transit system support fund for the construction/improvement/ rehabilitation of our mass transit system, and to phase out the allocation for installation of adequate and efficient traffic lights and road safety devices. Another proposed new allocation is for the greening program along national highways.

The bill seeking to lower the load limit of truckload per axle aims to prolong the life-span of our roads which is believed to have been heavily burdened by over-loading.

Also on the table are other proposed infrastructure projects with priority focuses on flood mitigation, the continuing and much needed farm-to-market roads, renewable sources of energy, etc. In all these, the implied need for job creation cannot be overemphasized if our people are to benefit from the so-called 7.20% GDP growth. I just filed a bill focused precisely on job creation.

Lastly, ladies and gentlemen, let me also report to you that I have been active in the deliberations on pending legislative proposals to continue to guard and uplift the welfare of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), our migrant workers. As we will recall, our OFWs have been referred to as “Bayani or Heroes”. But it is widely perceived that our so-called “Heroes” are not amply protected with legislation safeguarding their welfare and duly recognizing their significant contributions to the Philippine economy.

Roaring lions, as I go about my legislative responsibility, I sincerely trust and hope that you all will remain true to the ideals and commitment of the Lions International, especially in your role as the partners of government in its efforts for accelerated development and inclusive economic growth.

Let me now conclude by thanking you once again for inviting me to your 31st Anniversary and to your 32ng Induction Ceremonies. I look forward to be of further service to you all during the second half of my term as a Senator, always to be your conscientious and committed partner in nation-building.

Once again, my warmest greetings on your 31st Anniversary and to your newly inducted directors and officers, my warmest and sincerest congratulations.

Maraming salamat at magandang gabi sa inyong lahat! Mabuhay ang Lions Clubs International District 301-A2, Philippines!