The Leader I Want: Sherwin Gatchalian’s to-fix list for 2016

KD Suarez
The Leader I Want: Sherwin Gatchalian’s to-fix list for 2016
Rappler #PHVote's 'The Leader I Want' series looks at Sherwin Gatchalian's stand on key issues the next batch of senators candidates will have to address

MANILA, Philippines – Sherwin Gatchalian has served as Valenzuela First District Representative from 2001 to 2004, and from 2013 to the present. In between his stints in Congress, he was Valenzuela mayor.

Gatchalian was the first representative of the first district of the city, after its lone congressional district was divided into two in 2001.

Before joining the government, Gatchalian was the Chief Executive Officer of two companies: Plastics City Corporation and Omico Mining Corporation. He was Air Philippines Corporation’s vice chairman and director from 1998 to 1999.

In Congress, he was a member of the House committees on basic education and culture, higher and technical education, trade and industry, local government, and foreign affairs.

A member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, he is running on a platform of education and inclusive growth.

As part of Rappler #PHvote’s “The Leader I Want” series, we look at Gatchalian’s stand on key issues that the next batch of senators will have to address.


Education will be among Gatchalian’s top priorities in the Senate. He said that education is the way to invest in human capital, which can help improve the country’s competitiveness.

He is pushing for a bill that seeks to provide free higher education in all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

“It looks impossible but we only need about P12 billion ($260 million) to make it free in all SUCs. The budget for next year is about P3 trillion ($68 billion). P12 billion is only .04%. So kayang-kaya na (it’s doable),” he said in a Rappler interview in 2015.

Gatchalian is also for K-12, saying that its negative effects are only short-term. “The two additional years are really an investment for the future of our kids.”

The following are his reasons for favoring the K to 12 program:

  • Without K to 12, the Philippines will remain one of only 3 countries in the world with a 10-year pre-university cycle
  • There is a need to continuously reform basic education curriculum, but this has not been done “for a very, very long time” or, he believes, almost 20 years
  • The technical-vocational track under the K to 12’s senior high school will not only equip high school graduates in starting their own businesses, but will also give them additional skills employers are looking for from the workforce
House Bill 4360 Alternative Learning System Act Under study by a technical working group
House Bill 4785 The Continuing Education for Teachers Act Referred to stakeholders
House Bill 4801 Equitable Access to Math and Science Education Act Scheduled for meeting/hearing
House Bill 5348 Nutri-Skwela Act of 2015 Pending with the House committee on health

Gatchalian is also pushing for a bill that will increase the number of math and science schools in the country.

“Right now, we only have 40 math and science schools. We have kids who are very smart kids in Mindanao. We have to go to the cities to hone their math and science skills….And we all know that math and science are basic requirements for innovation; basic requirements for critical thinking,” Gatchalian said.

As for teachers, he said he has already filed a bill to increase their salary. 


Gatchalian said in a press statement in that he believes the fight against corruption does not stop in the executive and legislative branches. 

He supports Congress’ move to look into the Judiciary Development Fund, the “pork barrel” of the Supreme Court. He said that justices and judges should also make their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) available to the public.

An Inquirer report quoted Gatchalian as saying that “the next administration should have clear and detailed agenda to attack poverty as well as a heart for the poor.”

In the same article, he scored the Office of the Ombudsman for its selective justice. He observed that “cases of corruption remain unresolved in the Office of the Ombudsman, especially when the subject of complaints are cabinet members and other top officials who are close to President Aquino.”

In a Manila Bulletin report, Gatchalian said he believes technology can help stop corruption. “Eliminate human intervention and eliminate corruption.”

Social inequity

Gatchalian said in a Philippine Star report that the next administration should prioritize agriculture as it is one of the ways to mitigate poverty in the country.

On labor issues, Gatchalian said labor practices should be monitored by local government units. He said that the Workers’ Affairs Office and the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council, which he reactivated in Valenzuela in 2008, ensure that employers follow labor laws.

On the issue of same-sex marriage, while he supports equal opportunities for the LGBT community especially in employment, Gatchalian thinks that the Philippines is not yet ready for it.

“I think the Philippines is not ready for gay marriage yet. I think we need to talk about this more, and it’s good that a lot of countries are already talking about this,” Gatchalian said on Wednesday, November 11, in an interview on Rappler’s #TheLeaderIWant series.

He is for “limited” divorce which covers only extreme cases that involve violence and abuse. He explained this will give the battered spouse – whether a man or a woman – the chance to move on.

On health care services, Gatchalian cited the importance of good health to break out of poverty.

“A crucial element in breaking the intergenerational poverty cycle is to provide excellent health care services so indigent families won’t have to shell out money anymore, money that could have been spent on their children’s education and other basic needs,” he said.

Climate change and disasters

In June 2015, Gatchalian filed House Bill No. 5867 or the “Evacuation Center Act,” which mandates the construction of evacuation centers in every city and municipality, especially in vulnerable areas.

The bill, which he believes can minimize the use of schools as evacuation centers, aims to ensure that all evacuation centers comply with the National Building Code.

They should be able to withstand super typhoons with wind speeds of up to 320 kilometers per hour and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. The centers should also be equipped with sleeping areas, kitchens, clinics and recreation centers.

On disaster equipment budget, a 2015 Abante Tonite article quoted Gatchalian as saying that the Department of Budget and Ma­nagement should allocate funds for the Philippine National Police “to procure gears and equipment for effective disaster response.”

Foreign policy

On the Philippines’ maritime dispute against China, Gatchalian supports the country’s arbitration case pending before the UN-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands. In a 2014 Manila Bulletin article, he was quoted as saying that there should be no bilateral negotiations between the two countries.


Gatchalian is pushing for House Bill 5709, known as the Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program Act. The bill aims to educate the youth on the problem of human trafficking. If approved, this will be facilitated by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Council).

He is also pushing for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Act.

Peace process in Mindanao

Gatchalian believes that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law will make it easier for the region to attract foreign direct investments.

In an Abante Tonite article, Gatchalian said that the passage of the proposed BBL should be handled by the next administration which “might have a different view” about the measure.” Gatchalian said. – with reports from Welhelmina Quinday/

Sherwin Gatchalian is among the senatorial candidates who will participate in Rappler’s #TheLeaderIWant Senatorial Debates at the University of the Philippines School of Economics Auditorium in Quezon City on Friday, April 15, from 3 pm to 5:30 pm.

US$1 = P46.17

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