Saturday, July 7, 2007

Do we get our money's worth?

For the following exposition, I am indebted for my reference to, among others, and

First, how do we characterize the 13th Congress (2004-2007)? PCIJ says it is the COSTLIEST congress. Records attest that its budget was almost P13 billion (P12,511,239,000.00). (Note that the 12th congress costed us P11,231,882,000.00; while we spent P8,876,539,000.00 for the 11th congress.)

Notwithstanding its so huge a budget to partake among its fortunate members, the 13th congress was the most INEFFICIENT (among the post-Marcos congresses). The bills filed were only 8,733 -- out of which only 84 were enacted into law. (The House of Representative's bills numbered 6,114).

Thus -- thanks to the 13th congress! -- the laws that they passed were the MOST EXPENSIVE. Each law costed us, taxpayers, P148,943,321.43!

Well, one becomes curious to take a look at Rep. Amelita Villarosa's stint in the costliest congress. Can she be an exemption to the rule? By her legislative performance -- the yardstick by which all representatives must be measured, says PCIJ -- do we get our money's worth?

For 2004-2007, Villarosa's congressional committees were: Appropriations, Agrarian Reform, Agriculture and Food, Basic Education and Culture, Civil Service and Professional Regulation, Housing and Urban Development, Interparliamentary Relations and Diplomay, National Defense and Security, Public Works and Highways, Southern Tagalog Development, Women, Youth and Sports Development.

Actually, for three years, she filed a total of fiftey-seven (57) bills and three (3) resolutions. If we go by numbers -- i.e., if we equally distribute the 6,114 bills to the 231 membership of the House -- each congressman/woman should be assigned 26 bills individually. At the surface level, Rep. Villarosa must have been an exemption. But is she?

Of her 57 bills, only eleven (11) are of national significance. These are:

1. HB02946 (AN ACT PROVIDING PROTECTION TO CREDIT CARD HOLDERS BY SETTING A CEILING ON INTEREST RATES AND SURCHARGES AND PROHIBITING HIDDEN PENALTIES OR COSTS IMPOSED BY BANKS AND SIMILAR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ON PURCHASES AND CASH ADVANCES MADE THROUGH SUCH CREDIT FACILITY) [The bill sets the interest rate limit which may be imposed by credit card companies at not more than 1% per month or 12% per annum, without compounding. It likewise limits the surcharges or penalties to a ceiling of 1% per month, without compounding.]

2. HB03136 (AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A TIMBANGAN NG BAYAN CENTER IN ALL PUBLIC MARKETS NATIONWIDE, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE CHAPTER II OF THE CONSUMER ACT OF THE PHILIPPINES) [The measure directs all local government units to establish a Timbangan ng Bayan Center in all public markets nationwide to make weighing scales readily accessible to buyers.]

3. HB03447 (AN ACT REQUIRING THE PHILIPPINE INFORMATION AGENCY TO LAUNCH A COMPREHENSIVE PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN OF ALL CURRENT LEGISLATION, JURISPRUDENCE, PRESIDENTIAL ISSUANCES AND ADMINISTRATIVE RULES AND REGULATIONS) [The bill directs the Philippine Information Agency to harness to the fullest the facilities of PTV Channel 4 and Radyo ng Bayan in undertaking a comprehensive public awareness campaign of all current legislation, jurisprudence, presidential issuances and administrative rules and regulations.]

4. HB04215 (AN ACT AMENDING REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8368, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE "ANTI-SQUATING LAW REPEAL ACT OF 1997") ["Revised Anti-Squatting Law of 2005". The bill considers as professional squatter/s any person or groups of persons who occupy or possess the property of a landowner against his will, or who, having received a written demand to either vacate or pay rent to said landowner, refuses to do so within a period of 90 days.]

5. HB04365 (AN ACT EXPANDING THE SUPERVISORY AND REGULATORY POWERS OF THE BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7653) ["Expanded BSP Supervisory and Regulatory Powers Act of 2005". The bill seeks to expand the supervisory and regulatory powers of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to include within the ambit of its authority, bank subsidiaries and affiliates engaged in allied activities, quasi-banks, trust entities and other non-bank financial institutions placed under the BSP supervision through special laws.]


7. HB04864 (AN ACT PROHIBITING THE PRACTICE OF WITHOLDING THE DISCHARGE OF INDIGENT PATIENTS WHO FAIL TO PAY HOSPITAL OR MEDICAL BILLS INCURRED DUE TO EMERGENCY TREATMENT AND SUPPORT, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE, SECTION 3 OF BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 702, AS AMENDED BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8344) [The bill prohibits hospitals and medical clinics from detaining patients because of their failure to settle their hospital or medical bills incurred for emergency treatment.]

8. HB04948 (AN ACT EXPANDING THE GROUNDS FOR LEGAL SEPARATION AND CONSTITUTING A COMBINATION THEREOF AS PRIMA FACIE INDICATION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE, ARTICLES 36 AND 55 OF THE FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES) [The bill expands the grounds for legal separation and make the combination of at least five (5) of such grounds as prima facie indication of psychological incapacity which, in turn, is a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage.]

9. HB05412 (AN ACT PRESCRIBING STIFFER PENALTIES FOR VIOLATORS OF ARTICLE 177 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE WHEN COMMITTED IN CONJUCTION WITH A VIOLATION OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 493) [The bill prescribes stiffer penalties for the unauthorized use of the prescribed insignia, badge, emblem of the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police.]

10. HB05449 (AN ACT ABOLISHING THE DEATH PENALTY) [The bill seeks to reduce the penalty of death to reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment.]

11. HB05756 (AN ACT TO AMEND THE ANTI-SQUATTING LAW REPEAL ACT OF 1997) [“Revised Anti-Squatting Law of 2006”. The bill seeks to expand the definition of professional squatters. AN ACT TO AMEND THE ANTI-SQUATTING LAW REPEAL ACT OF 1997]

Of the eleven bills cited above, seven bills she co-authored with other congressmen/women -- the most number of co--authors she had was for bills on anti-squatting.

Having observed, thus, one maintains that to her individual credit were four bills (of national significance) only...

I find it interesting, too, that to her is credited HB 05449. Knowing that her husband was given a verdict of double-life for his participation in the murder of Quintos brothers, I came to know her as a very good wife and life-partner of Mr. Villarosa.

Ma'am, do you think we are getting our money's worth? And she would look at us and smilingly she would retort back: "But you are voting for me..."

Note: Representative Villarosa, too, may be described as parochial after limiting herself to the concerns of her district -- that is, forty-six (46) bills for Occidental Mindoro! This shall be described separately.

No comments: