MANILA, Philippines – More than a hundred first-time legislators at the House of Representatives (HOR) attended an executive course in legislation ahead of the opening of the 17th Congress on July 25.
The 4-day course was organized by the HOR Institute for Legislation and Legislative Governance in partnership with the Center for Policy and Executive Development of the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance.
The course was attended by 105 neophyte lawmakers and was administered in 3 batches between June 20 and July 4.
Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler
Attendees were taught about concepts and procedures relevant to becoming a member of Congress, including the legislative process, how to write bills, and crafting budgets.
A mock session was conducted for every batch at the plenary hall. HOR staff acted as lawmakers to show the new congressmen and congresswomen what goes on during a regular session at the Lower House.
Bataan D1 Rep Geraldine Roman says she learned abt legislative process, budget making, ethics, how to harness media pic.twitter.com/aLFLLRzH6J — Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) July 6, 2016
Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman called the course “heaven-sent” because she learned about the essence of her work as a legislator.
“We learned about the legislative process, budget making, ethics, harnessing the media. We also learned about engaging your constituents, so all of these things in a short period of time,” said Roman, the first transgender woman to be elected to Philippine Congress.
“You can learn it through practice, but for you to be given an opportunity in just one week to learn all of these things, it’s a welcome opportunity,” she added.
Roman said she would prioritize the socio-economic welfare of her constituents in Bataan’s first district, as well as the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
She already re-filed a version of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which the 16th Congress failed to pass. (READ: The long road to an LGBT anti-discrimination law)
Batangas D6 Rep Vilma Santos-Recto says she learned a lot from the executive course on legislation @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/eEdehCj4uX — Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) July 6, 2016
Batangas 6th District Representative Vilma Santos Recto also welcomed the course, saying it helped ease her into her new job.
“Well, I’ve learned a lot. Every day is still a learning process, 'no? But interesting kasi dagdag-kaalaman. Plus, let’s face it, bago sa akin ang legislative [branch]. Although sanay ako na may sanggunian, iba pa rin siyempre pagka Congress na,” she said.
(Well, I’ve learned a lot. Every day is still a learning process, right? But it’s interesting because it’s added knowledge. Plus, let’s face it – the legislative branch is new to me. While I’m used to having a provincial council, it’s different when it’s Congress.)
Prior to being elected as congresswoman, Recto was the mayor of Lipa City for 3 terms and later became Batangas governor.
She plans to advocate for the rights of women and children in the 17th Congress and wants to increase the internal revenue allotment for local government units.
ACTS-OFW Party-list Rep John Bertiz says the course helped him find friends in Congress as well pic.twitter.com/Eo871jptvu — Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) July 6, 2016
For ACTS-OFW Party-list Representative John Bertiz, the course allowed him to observe what happens during a session in Congress.
He said he also met new friends.
“It’s really nice. We were able to gain new friendships from the House. Alam mo naman, sa Kongreso, kailangan mo ng kaibigan para makatulong dun sa mga 'pinapasa nating batas,” said Bertiz. (In Congress, you need friends who can help you with the bills you want to pass into law.)
The longtime advocate for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) wants the fulfillment of President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to create a department for OFWs, though Bertiz would rather call it the Department of Migrations and Development.