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House, UP NCPAG begin training of newbie congressmen

Beyond basics, 2 first-time solons stress need to hone principles, assert House’s independence
/ 12:26 PM June 17, 2019
training of congressmen

The House of Representatives, in partnership with the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG), kicked off Monday its three-day executive course on legislation for the new House members of the 18th Congress. Photo from the Office of the Speaker | Press and Public Affairs Bureau (PPAB)

MANILA, Philippines — Some 15 neophyte congressmen began Monday their training on legislation which is aimed at orienting them on their roles and responsibilities as lawmakers in the next Congress that will open on July 22.

The House of Representatives and the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) organized the executive course for new members of the incoming 18th Congress. The three batches of training are from Monday to Wednesday (June 17 to 19), on June 24 to 26 and on July 1 to 3.

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“At the end of the course, participants shall have gained knowledge, honed skills and imbibed good values on policy-making particularly on development policy, planning and programming for better quality of life, well-being and sustainable human development,” the course overview reads.

Professor Maria Fe Villamejor-Mendoza, dean of UP NCPAG, also said they would help congressmen learn the legislative process, as well as the internal set-up in the lower chamber.

“Tutulungan namin sila na malaman kung paano ang legislative process… kasi hindi lahat ng gusto nilang gawin ay mangyayari kasi nga mahirap… Mayroon kaming pag-aaral na at least two Congresses are needed before a bill becomes a law,” Villamejor-Mendoza said in an interview.

“We hope that they internalize their roles as public servants,” she added.

The UP Dean said the incoming House members would also learn to craft their own legislative agenda and understand the legislative, budgetary and parliamentary processes, as well as the legislative ethical accountability. At the end of the three-day orientation, first-time lawmakers would also experience a mock session.

One of the attendees, former Navotas Mayor John Rey Tiangco, who is now the representative of the city’s lone district, said he hopes to learn more especially that the work of a mayor is different from that of a congressman. He said his legislative agenda would focus on education, health, housing, and livelihood.

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Beyond the basics: Principles and independence

But beyond the basics of the legislative process, incoming Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, a Manobo tribeswoman from Surigao del Sur, said House members should also hone their principles by knowing the plight of the districts and sectors they are representing.

READ: ‘Lumad’ takes IP struggle to Congress

Cullamat, a first-time congresswoman and the second Manobo to serve in Congress after former Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, said she also sees her being elected to public office as a chance to tell the true stories of the marginalized indigenous peoples.

“Inaasahang malaki ang maitutulong nito sa usapin ng kalagayan ng mga pambansang minorya sa Pilpinas kung ano ‘yung hinaraharap ng pambansang minorya sa gitna ng nagpapatuloy na proyektong pangkaunlaran ng gobyerno na nakakasira ng kalikasan at pamumuhay namin…” Cullamat told INQUIRER.net.

“Bilang bagong representante ng Congress na nanggaling talaga sa marginalized sector, marami akong gustong isabi roon para mamulat kahit ang ating mga kasamahan kung ano talaga ang tunay na kalagayan namin na pambansang minorya,” she added.

Her fellow Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite meanwhile underscored that the 18th Congress, although a long shot, should strive to be independent of the whims of the Executive branch.

“Hinalal ang bawat kinatawan sa Kongreso na supposedly independent from Malacañang at dapat tumitindig siya sa wasto at tama…” Gaite told INQUIRER.net.

Gaite said Bayan Muna’s representatives in the 18th Congress, which include incumbent Rep. Carlos Zarate, would continue pushing for the P16,000 national minimum wage and the total end of all forms of contractualization in the government and private sectors.

Cullamat and Gaite said they would attend the training’s third batch in July. The resource persons for the executive course are experts from the House, UP, various government agencies and nongovernment organizations.

House Secretary-General Dante Roberto Maling said the number of first-timer lawmakers is around 135 to 145 or about half of the 304 to 306 total members of the 18th Congress.

“The Comelec (Commission on Elections) still has to decide on certain cases sa party-lists… kasi I understand meron pang elections ng October or November for Southern Leyte and if I’m not mistaken, in Palawan,” Maling explained. (Editor: Julie Espinosa)

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TAGS: 18th Congress, Congress, House, House of Representatives, latest news, solons, Training
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