Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

June 30, 2010 was the day when Noy became President Noy or Pnoy and PGMA became Congresswoman GMA or CGMA. Today, everybody had something to say about Pnoy’s performance as president in the past 12 months but only few people had taken an interest in reviewing Gloria’s legislative work. So how did she perform in Batasan? Let’s start with her congress profile:

Macapagal-Arroyo, Gloria M.
Pampanga, 2nd District

House of Representatives, Quezon City
Rm. MB-2, Phone: 931-5001 local 7219, 9325258
Chief of Staff: Maria Elena H. Bautista-Horn

Committee Membership:

Economic Affairs
Foreign Affairs
Globalization and WTO
Higher and Technical Education
National Defense and Security
Veterans Affairs and Welfare
Ways and Means
Women and Gender Equality

House Measures Sponsored/Authored

1. HB 172 An Act Establishing the Department of Education and Training
2. HB 173 An Act Providing for the Creation of the Autonomous Region in Southwestern Mindanao and in Central Mindanao
3. HB 174 An Act Banning the Catching, Sale, Purchase, Possession, Transportation and Exportation of all Sharks and Rays in the Country
4. HB 175 An Act Establishing and Maintaining Lactation Stations in Workplaces
5. HB 176 An Act Amending Sections 91 and 97 of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998. Status: Approved by the House on 2011-05-31, transmitted to and received by the Senate on 2011-06-02
6. HB 382 An Act Penalizing Persons Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. Status: Approved by the House on 2011-03-15, transmitted to and received by the Senate on 2011-03-21
7. HB 383 An Act Defining Cybercrime, Providing for Prevention, Suppression and Imposition of Penalties
8. HB 384 An Act Creating the Department of Housing, Planning, and Urban Development
9. HB 2222 An Act Setting the Direction of and Parameters for the Development of and Regulation of the Transportation System in the Philippines. Status: Approved by the Committee on 2011-02-09
10. HB 2378 An Act Strengthening Further Organic Act for the ARMM
11. HB 2670 An Act Providing for Unemployment Benefit to be Provided by the SSS
12. HB 2703 An Act Authorizing and Providing for the Procedure for the Transfer of Sentenced Persons to or from Foreign Countries
13. HB 2910 An Act Providing for the Comprehensive Subic and Clark Development Program
14. HB 3001 An Act to Amend the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003. Status: Under study by the Technical Working Group
15. HB 3162 An Act Rationalizing the Grant and Administration of Fiscal and Non-Fiscal Incentives
16. HB 3244 An Act Creating the Fair Trade Commission of the Philippines. Status: Substituted by HB04835
17. HB 3627 An Act Requiring the Planting of Trees for any Construction of Residential, Commercial or Industrial Structures
18. HB 3963 An Act Regulating the Use of Firecrackers
19. HB 4110 An Act Increasing the Penalty of the Crime of Carnapping
20. HR 8 A Resolution Calling for a Constitution Convention to Propose Amendments to or Revision of the 1987 Constitution
21. HR 839 Resolution Directing the Committee on Justice to Conduct an Investigation into the Arrest and Detention of Korean Nationals and Students for Allegedly Illegaly Operating a Language School in Abucay, Albay

The quantifiable indicators show that she filed 19 House bills, 2 resolutions and co-authored 123 measures. She has yet to deliver a privilege speech. She spoke in the plenary once when she criticized the bloated conditional cash transfer subsidy of the DSWD during the budget deliberations. She voted against the impeachment of Ombudsman Gutierrez.

Her attendance in the plenary is not unusual (using House standards) but she always mysteriously disappears after the roll call. They say she prefers to listen to plenary debates in her spacious office. She re-appears during voting time.

She regularly attends committee hearings especially if one of her proposed bills/resolutions is part of the agenda. She has been quite successful in pushing for the passage of her bills and in fact I couldn’t recall a committee meeting where a House member tried to directly oppose her. But her famous tantrum comes out every time a resource speaker bravely contradicts her statements.

She once remarked in a committee hearing about the failure of Congress to pass the budget bill without making amendments in the document. That was a correct assessment. But she failed to mention that the budget was re-enacted several times during her term. She also questioned DSWD’s expanded CCT program but she co-authored a bill (HB 848) that would institutionalize and even broaden the scope of the program.

There are two ways to read her legislative output. It’s either a showcase of her unfinished agenda as a leader or an indirect admission of what she failed to accomplish during her nine-year (mis)rule. A Gloria admirer would describe the bills/resolutions as fine examples of her superior vision as a leader while a grim and determined Gloria hater would add them to her long list of crimes against the people.

At the minimum, her proposed measures, as well as her committee memberships, reflect some of her advocacies. It’s significant to note that the merging of the three education agencies is the subject of her first bill. Is this meant to inform the public that education reform would be her focus as a legislator? Meanwhile, the first and only resolution which she filed that has national significance supports the revival of the charter change campaign.

While Pnoy prefers to overhaul the ARMM electoral system, Congresswoman Gloria wants the creation of a new autonomous unit in Southwestern and Central Mindanao regions. While Pnoy backs the concept of responsible parenthood, Gloria co-authored a bill on the protection of the unborn child which is being endorsed by the pro-life camp. It’s also the first bill which she co-authored.

Gloria’s decision to return to Congress is still seen by many as a tactic to preempt the efforts of political forces which are determined to make her accountable for her alleged anomalous dealings in Malacanang. As long as her political motive remains doubtful, her actual legislative work would be of little concern to many people. It’s impossible to objectively assess her performance in Congress without citing the aggressive efforts of her minions to rehabilitate her shattered political reputation.

It’s not good for democracy, transparency, and accountability but Gloria’s congressional bid successfully proved how discredited presidents can survive after the end of their six-year term. Gloria did the unthinkable in 2010 and the mainstream political community is still reeling from the shock over her refusal to quietly step down from the political battlefield. This makes it difficult for the public and the media as well to come to terms with her new job description.

Is there a sober way of judging her congressional work without being reminded of the fact that she had been given more than enough time, power, and opportunities in the past to lead this nation out of darkness?

She is no ordinary solon and she certainly doesn’t deserve to be judged on ordinary terms.

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