I’ve been getting a lot of direct messages asking about Bongbong Marcos’s legislative achievement and the answer is a little bit complicated. Legislative accomplishment is not simply the number of bills submitted or laws passed. Importante na maintindihan natin ang trabaho ng isang mambabatas at mula duon pwedeng magdevelop ng “scoreboard” ang mga political scientist ng bansa para malaman kung mahusay at tama ang pagganap ng isang mambabatas.
Here’s what you need to look at the basic and most important duty of your representatives:
a. The number of bills submitted and bills that received action in the committees. One must qualify if the bills are local/private or substantive/significant. A local or private bill benefits only a few but a bill of national importance is substantive as it will benefit more people in the long run. Maaring nagpasa nga ng sangkatutak na panukalang batas pero puro pagpapalit lang ng pangalan ng kalye (local bill) wala ring pakinabang ang bansa.
b. The number of laws passed. Make the same qualification similar to letter (a) but identify if he is the author, co-author, sponsor and co-sponsor. Usually the author is the first to submit the bill or his version of the bill was used in the committee deliberation if there’s more than one proposal of the same subject of the bill. Co-authors are a bit tricky coz they could have filed a similar bill or were just asked to co-author a bill (pirma lang ang ambag na kustombre sa kongreso) so it’s easier for a bill to pass into law. Mas maraming co-author mas malaki ang tsansa na pumasa ang batas. Sponsor and Co-sponsors are those defending the bill in the floor of the House of the Representatives or Senate ensuring its passage into law. They’re usually the Chair of the committee.
c. Participation in legislation. Legislative process encompasses several stages and the most important is in the committee level. Sa akin dito mo makikita talaga kung magaling ang representante mo. Dito sinasala yung batas, nagkakaroon ng internal deliberation at public hearing. Yung mga tanong ng iyong mga mambabatas sa mga subject matter experts ay dapat suriin kung nakatulong ba para mas mapaganda pa yung panukalang batas. Dapat ding suriin kung yung mga panukalang amyenda during the amendments stage ay nakatulong ba o ginawa para pumabor sa ilang interes. Ganun din dapat ang pagsusuri sa mga miyembro ng bicameral conference committee dahil kadalasan ang mga pagbabago sa batas sa stage na ito ng legislative process ay pinal at di na maaring amyendahan pa.
d. Presence. Minsan parang nakakabilib yung mambabatas na pala-absent pero andaming batas na ipinanukala pero kadalasan yung mga staff lang pala talaga ang nagtrabaho. Kaya naman pagdating sa debate, kailangan pa ng maraming coach gaya nung senador na alalay ng Pangulo. Mahirap naman kung puro LSO (Legislative Staff Officer) lang ang nagtatrabaho, at the very least dapat pinag-aralan din ng mambabatas yung ginawa ng kanyang staff.
e. Voting Record. Again this requires a tactful and careful analysis of the vote. One might be voting against a popular measure but your legislator might not necessarily be against it. It could be a protest on a part of the bill or actions of an agency. And you have to look at your values and political outlook to measure a legislator’s voting record. For example, you might be anti-divorce so you’d give lower score for a legislator who voted or pursued divorce bills.
f. Legislative Role. One might not have filed a number of bills but is doing a crucial role in the assembly. The Speaker (President in the Senate), Majority Leader, Minority Leader, and Committee Chairs each has important roles in legislative assemblies, in fact no laws would pass without their approval and shepherding. Kaya kailangan ding tingnan ng mabuti ang kanilang mga priyoridad. Anong batas ang isinusulong at anong batas ang tinetengga like anti-dynasty law, baka naman dynasty sila kaya walang anti-dynasty na panukalang batas ang umabot man lang sa 2nd reading.
a. Congress has the power to investigate anything as long as it’s in aid of legislation. So you’d look for members of Congress who’s actually asking questions that makes sense. Pero minsan naabuso ang prosesong yan, may mga tinatawag tayong attack and collect at defend and collect na mga mambabatas. Kaya maging mapanuri sa mga gawi nila sa mga imbestigasyon. Talamak ‘to sa mga tax bills kaya bantayan palagi ang Ways and Means Committee.
b. Oversight is also making sure that the laws passed by Congress are being implemented. Halimbawa, pwedeng nagpasa ng universal health care pero di naman pala sapat na pinopondohan, kaya ang tungkulin ng mambabatas ay siguruhin na sapat ang inilaan ng DBM na alokasyon sa GAA taon-taon.
We hear a lot of people saying that Congress is unruly and why can’t they all just get along. Mababait pa nga po mga kongresista natin, sa ibang bansa nagsasampalan, suntukan at sabunutan. Importante na yung mga desisyon ng mayorya ay sinusubok at sinusuri ng minorya para mas maayos na batas ang kalabasan. The late Joker Arroyo, the great fiscalizer, is known for not having a single bill passed into law (in fact wala nga syang staff, yung driver nya ang secretary nya na sumasagot ng tawag sa opisina nya) but no one would dare say that Joker Arroyo was a useless legislator. He’s one of the better debaters, knows the right question to ask in the period of interpellation, and his votes on issues are conscientious. Pero dapat tingnan mo din kung obstructive lang yung pagiging oposisyon ng kongresista na kunyari eh makabayan.
Pork barrel is contentious but bringing in district/local projects are part of your legislators job too. Ang bawal lang kung sila ang mag-iimplement at pinagmumulan ng kickback. Example would be identification of airports or seaports. Kung mahusay kang mambabatas maipapasok mo na sa probinsya mo o sa distrito mo itayo ang isang airport, ospital o eskwelahan, na usually sa deliberation ng GAA hinihingi ng kongresista mo ang commitment sa mga implementing agency.
Issue or sectoral advocacy in the crafting of the national budget would also show the legislative savvy of your congressman or senator. For example, yung free tertiary education isinulong pero kung hindi hinanapan ng budget ni Loren Legarda balewala din yung batas.
May ilang miyembro ng kongreso na naatasan ng ibang trabaho bukod sa paggawa ng batas. Members of the Commission On Appointments are duty bound to confirm the appointments (constitutional) made by the President. Halimbawa palpak yung kalihim ng kalusugan pwede nating sabihing di ginawa ng maayos ng mga senador at kongresista ang trabaho nila dahil di nila nabusisi ng maayos ang mga ni-nomina ng Pangulo.
So based on these criteria, how can you then assess the legislative performance of Bongbong Marcos? I want to hear your answers. Tell me in the comment section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.