House performance is problem, not Speakership, says solon

By Maila Ager
Last updated 05:08pm (Mla time) 07/05/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Instead of focusing on the dispute for the Speakership, a veteran legislator at the House of Representatives has called the attention of his colleagues on their worsening performance as shown by the dwindling number of bills filed and enacted into law.


“It’s getting more expensive to enact a law these days kung pagbabasehan natin ay ang [if we are going to base it on the] 13th Congress. It would cost the Filipino people at least P148 million to enact one bill into law,” returning Nueva Vizcaya Representative Carlos Padilla said at a regular forum in Quezon City on Thursday.


Citing research, Padilla said the government during the 13th Congress had spent about P148 million just to pass and enact a bill into law.


Out of 6,114 bills filed in the 13th Congress, Padilla said only 83 had been enacted into law — way below the 1000 of the 35,000 bills that had been passed during the 8th Congress considering that there were only 43 standing committees during this time and that it was operating on a P4.4 billion budget.


The 13th Congress had a P12.5 billion budget and 81 standing committees, including special and oversight committees, Padilla said.


“In other words, the 8th Congress has more right to have more committees to tackle the 35,000 bills? But despite the 35,0000 bills with only 43 committee, there were still a lot of bills that have bee enacted into law?” Padilla asked.


He said he could not also understand why, despite the growing budget of Congress, its performance in terms of approving bills has worsened.


“Well, one way of explaining it, if there were only 43 committees in the 8th Congress and today there are 81, including special committees and oversight committees, assuming that each committee would spend either P5 million or P10 million, so the more committees you have, the more expensive the operation of Congress would be,” Padilla pointed out.


He also cited the need to trim down the number of deputy speakers. There were four during the last Congress.


On the perennial problem on quorum, Padilla said the next Speaker of the House should not approve local bills without the presence of the authors. This way, legislators will be compelled to attend the sessions, he said.


Padilla specifically called on incumbent Speaker Jose de Venecia and incoming Cebu Representative Pablo Gacia, two leading contenders for the Speakership, to address this problem.


“If Congress will not move, if we will not rouse first and foremost the Speaker, there will come a time that the trust of the people in Congress will be eroded completely,” said Padilla in Filipino.


“They might say that we in Congress want the Senate abolished. But instead they might say that it is the House that should be abolished. We might not even deserve to be called ‘Your Honor’ or the honorable congressman because the people no longer trust us,” he said.


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