As students start a new academic year, some newly elected public officials are also back in school to learn the basics of governance and prepare for their stints as public servants.
To help the new officials, the Development Academy of the Philippines-Graduate School of Public and Development Management (DAP-GSPDM), Ateneo de Manila University School of Government and Bicol University-Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Local Governance have forged a “strategic collaboration” aimed at “accelerating their (officials) learning processes.”
The partners are currently holding two “highly specialized legislative coaching programs” for newly elected congresswomen Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo of the third district of Camarines Sur and Aileen C. Radaza of the lone district of Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu.
Gloria Jumamil-Mercado, dean of DAP-GSPDM, says they are helping these two legislators to “hit the ground running” when the 16th Congress opens in July by teaching them essential knowledge needed in legislation and familiarizing them with their new environment.
The Certificate Course in Development Legislation and Governance is a four-day program of 10-hour daily sessions. Each course is customized to respond to the needs of the public official and his/her constituents.
“When you’re customizing a course, you have to look at the needs of the client,” Mercado says. “Nakakahingal ’yung preparation (The preparation is exhausting). Everything has to fit the realities of the student.”
For Robredo and Radaza, Mercado says, “legislation is being taught as a craft.”
The course will provide them with a fresh perspective of their roles as legislators, since both are neophytes, and as “proponents of development” in their respective provinces.
Mentors at DAP-GSPDM plan to equip Robredo and Radaza with technical knowledge to carry out their tasks. They will also provide facts and information from national and local levels that have strategic implications on the two women’s legislative agendas.
The course consists of four key learning areas: Congress and Challenges of Development, Governance and Leadership; Congress as a Craft and a Function: Best Practices; Congress as a Vehicle for Delivering Promise, and Congressional Agenda Setting and Formulation.
At the end of the course, the legislators are expected to have a better understanding of the challenges of the job, comprehend and learn from best practices in performing their functions and responsibilities, enhance their knowledge of fundamental processes and activities of the House of Representatives, and develop the ability to define and formulate their “legislative development agendas.”
Robredo, a lawyer, is trying to determine the quantity and quality of people she should hire to help her become an effective and efficient public servant.
She plans to file bills that will “strengthen local governments” to continue what was started by her late husband, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash last year.
Robredo says local governments have “boundless potential” and focusing on her goal will guarantee the delivery of basic services to the public.
Jobs on the agenda
Radaza’s agenda will focus on three areas: Jobs, education and senior citizens.
The 28-year-old former barangay councilor plans to provide opportunities during her three-year term to ensure that graduates will get jobs in industries in her district, promote programs that will ensure that most youths will finish school and promote activities and programs that will provide the elderly with quality lives.
Radaza says her motivation for focusing on such programs is her family’s collective desire not only for personal success but also success for the people they will encounter along the way.
“It’s a calling,” she says of politics. “Once you answer it, you should give 100 percent.”
Mercado says that after the legislators shall have crafted their legislative agendas, DAP-GSPDM will monitor their progress and see if they are following the programs set during the weeklong course.
PHOTOS BY STEPHEN NORRIES A. PADILLA