Thursday, March 25, 2010

What One Congressman Can Do

On his second term, Iloilo City Congressman Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. has accomplished the principal authorship of six (6) national laws: Republic Act 9521 (National Book Development Trust Fund Act), R.A. 9646 (Real Estate Service Act), R.A. 9513 (Renewable Energy Resources Act), R.A. 9853 (Customs Brokers Act), R.A. 10024 (Philippine Respiratory Therapy Act) and the soon-to-be-signed Psychology Service Act. Many members of Congress finish 3 terms (or 9 years) without authoring a single law of national importance.

Raul Gonzalez Jr. chaired two House committees: the Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation and the Committee on Revision of Laws. Politicians often cite “reforming our government” as their primary reason for entering politics, and thus Raul Jr. chose the Civil Service Committee, which can produce laws that will improve the state of our 1.5 million government employees and the private professionals (doctors, engineers, nurses, psychologists, real estate agents, customs brokers, respiratory therapists, etc.).

When Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia was elevated to the post of Deputy Speaker, Raul Jr. was appointed Acting Chair (for about 6 months) of the committee Garcia vacated, the Committee on Revision of Laws. Thus, he ended up presiding over two committees - a rare distinction because traditionally a senior congressman is given only one committee to chair.

Many constituents expect their Congressman to obtain development projects for their district. Raul Jr. over a three-year period (2007-2010) was able to channel approximately P275 Million worth of projects to Iloilo City, broken down as follows: P52 Million under the “Free Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients” program, P41.8 Million to the Iloilo City government under his “Assistance to LGU” program, P33 Million for the construction/repair of barangay multi-purpose halls, another P30 Million for the construction/declogging of drainage systems, and P73 million for the repair/concreting of various roads and bridges in Iloilo City.

Tens of thousands of indigent Iloilo City residents have benefited from the Free Medical Assistance program since it was started almost 15 years ago by Deputy Speaker Raul M. Gonzalez, Sr. Through the years, an estimated total of P200 Million has been disbursed under the said program. As for the “Assistance to LGU” fund under Raul Jr., it has been used mainly to buy things that the Iloilo City Government was unable to provide: barangay patrol vehicles, police cars, and communications equipment.

The Assistance fund has also been used to augment various initiatives of the City Government such as the Dinagyang Foundation, Paraw Regatta, and even the schooling of the Vice Mayor, 2 City Councilors, and 16 department heads and city hall personnel at the Ateneo School of Government Masters in Public Management program. The rest of the Priority Development Assistance Fund of Raul Jr. was used to repair public structures (roads, bridges, barangay halls) which were damaged by Typhoon Frank in 2008.

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