Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CONgress (The 14th Philippine Congress)

By Siesta-friendly

The verb ‘con’ is defined as ‘to swindle’. While ‘congress’ is ‘an association usually made up of delegates from constituent organizations’.

An association that takes money by fraud or deceit. Hmmm, what could that be?

While you’re thinking about it, let’s talk about our lawmakers, in particular their law-making activities. Click here for our review last year of the 13th Congress.

This 14th Congress, both Houses were given a total of about P6.8B for its general operations (P2.3B to the Senate and P4.5B to the Lower House). That doesn’t include the roughly P9.7B in the form of the Priority Development Assistance Fund better known as pork. So that’s a total of P16.5B more or less. Officially, at least.

Was all of that worth it? Let’s see what they accomplished with all that money.

Run-of-the-mill laws

It wouldn’t be an honest-to-goodness Congress without the garden variety laws like establishing, integrating and separating high schools. But this 14th Congress had a field day. There were 140 laws in this category. And there were only 219 RAs during the 14th Congress. Go ahead, say it: OMG. Yes. We spent billions so that our Congress can, basically, set up high schools. High Schools. Maybe that’s the highest educational attainment for most of them that’s why high schools are close to their heart.

They did remember 2 universities and enacted a law designating the Philippine Normal University as the country's National Center For Teacher Education and another law strengthening the University of the Philippines as the National University. Whatever.

Anyway, where else did our Houses spend precious legislative time and money? Establishing and upgrading district engineering offices that’s where. 12 new laws. Must be some profit there somewhere, which escapes us at the moment. Might as well add here the lone law on reapportionment, which is that of the lone legislative district of Agusan Del Sur province.

Our Congress wouldn’t have done a complete job without naming and renaming roads (and 1 bridge). 8 new laws on that, thank you very much.

We wouldn’t be known for our festive spirit without our legal holidays and there are now 9 additional laws on days off for business owners and daily wage earners to detest.

Following closely are laws granting/renewing franchises: 7 in all.

And let’s not forget why they‘re making law in the first place: the General Appropriations Acts of 2008 and 2009.

Then there’s one law adding 5 regional trial courts.

So far, that’s 182 boiler plate laws funded by billions of our precious tax payments.

Amendatory laws

There were a few on-second-thought laws; you know, the product of lawmakers’ realization that the law they once deemed fit to pass now needs some changes. There were 21 of these corrective laws either amending or repealing previous laws. They are:

  1. RA 9496 (An Act To Extend The Utilization Period Of The Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund) amending RA 8178 (An Act Replacing Quantitative Import Restrictions On Agricultural Products, Except Rice, With Tariffs, Creating The Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund);

  1. RA 9499 (Filipino World War II Veterans Pensions and Benefits Act of 2008) amending RA 6948 (thereby allowing Filipino World War II Veterans To Continue Receiving Philippine Government Pensions And Benefits Notwithstanding Similar Pensions And Benefits Provided By The United States Government),

  1. RA 9501 (Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)) amending RA 6977 (The Magna Carta For Small Enterprises),

  1. RA 9503 amending RA 1125 (The Law Creating The Court Of Tax Appeals),

  1. RA 9504 amending RA 8424 (The National Internal Revenue Code Of 1997),

  1. RA 9510 (Credit Information System Act) repealing PD 1941 (Recognizing And Supporting The Credit Information Bureau, Inc.),

  1. RA 9514 (Fire Code Of The Philippines of 2008) repealing PD 1185 (Fire Code Of The Philippines),

  1. RA 9516 amending PD 1866 (Codifying The Laws On Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing In, Acquisition Or Disposition Of Firearms, Ammunition Or Explosives Or Instruments Used In The Manufacture Of Firearms, Ammunition Or Explosives, And Imposing Stiffer Penalties For Certain Violations Thereof)

  1. RA 9520 (Philippine Cooperative Code Of 2008) amending RA 6938 (The Cooperative Code Of 1990),

  1. RA 9522 amending RA 3046 (An Act To Define The Baselines Of The Territorial Sea Of The Philippines),

  1. RA 9523 (An Act Requiring The Certification Of The Department Of Social Welfare And Development (DSWD) To Declare A 'Child Legally Available For Adoption' As A Prerequisite For Adoption Proceedings) amending RA 8552 (The Domestic Adoption Act Of 1998), RA 8043 (The Inter-Country Adoption Act Of 1995), PD 603 (The Child And Youth Welfare Code),

  1. RA 9547 amending RA 7323 (The Special Program For Employment Of Students)

  1. RA 9576 (An Act Increasing The Maximum Deposit Insurance Coverage, And In Connection Therewith, To Strengthen The Regulatory And Administrative Authority, And Financial Capability Of The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) amending RA 3591 (The PDIC Charter),

  1. RA 9592 (An Act Extending For 5 Years The Reglementary Period For Complying With The Minimum Educational Qualification And Appropriate Eligibility In The Appointment To The Bureau Of Fire Protection (BFP) And The Bureau Of Jail Management And Penology (BJMP) amending RA 9263 (The Bureau Of Fire Protection And Bureau Of Jail Management And Penology Professionalization Act Of 2004),

  1. RA 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009) amending or repealing the inconsistent provisions of EO 120 (Reorganizing the Ministry of Tourism, Defining its Powers and Functions and for Other Purposes); EO 292, as amended (The Administrative Code of 1987); PD 189, as amended. (Creating the Philippine Tourism Authority); PD 1448, as amended, (Creating the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation): EO 46 (Granting the Department of Tourism, Through the Philippine Tourism Authority, Authority to Establish and Operate a Duty- and Tax-Free Merchandising System); EO No. 30 (Creating an Executive Committee for the Development of Quezon Memorial, Luneta and Other National Parks); PD 37 (Creating the Nayong Filipino Foundation); PD 1616 (Creating the Intramuros Administration; PD 442, as amended (Labor Code); RA 7160 (The Local Government Code); RA 7722 (Creating the Commission on Higher Education); RA 9497 (Creating the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines);

  1. RA 9640 amending RA 7160 (The Local Government Code Of 1991)

  1. RA 9648 (An Act Exempting From Documentary Stamp Tax Any Sale, Barter Or Exchange Of Shares Of Stock Listed And Traded Through The Stock Exchange) amending RA 8424 (The National Internal Revenue Code Of 1997),

  1. RA 9649 amending RA 5412 (The Charter Of The City Of General Santos),

  1. RA 9679 (Home Development Mutual Fund Law Of 2009, otherwise known as the Pag-IBIG (Pagtutulungan sa kinabukasan: Ikaw, Bangko, Industriya at Gobyerno Fund) amending RA 7742 (Home Development Mutual Fund Law Of 1980), and

  1. RA 9700 (An Act Strengthening the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Extending the Acquisition and Distribution of All Agricultural Lands, Instituting Necessary Reforms) amending RA 6657 (The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988);

  1. RA 9708 (An Act Extending For 5 Years The Reglementary Period For Complying With The Minimum Educational Qualification For Appointment To The Philippine National Police (PNP) And Adjusting The Promotion System Thereof), amending RA 6975 and RA 8551; and

  1. RA 9711 (Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009), amending RA 3720 (Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).

The rest

And the remaining laws we can’t fit in the previous categories:

  1. RA 9497 (Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008)

  1. RA 9502 (Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008)

  1. RA 9505 (An Act Establishing A Provident Personal Savings Plan, Known As The Personal Equity And Retirement Account (PERA) of 2008)

  1. RA 9506 (Bacolor Rehabilitation Council Act)

  1. RA 9507 (Socialized And Low-Cost Housing Loan Restructuring And Condonation Act of 2008)

  1. RA 9509 (An Act Establishing Livelihood And Skills Training Centers In Fourth, Fifth And Sixth Class Municipalities otherwise known as the Barangay Livelihood And Skills Training Act of 2008),

  1. RA 9512 (Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008),

  1. RA 9513 (An Act Promoting The Development, Utilization And Commercialization Of Renewable Energy Resources And For Other Purposes)

  1. RA 9515 (An Act Defining The Liability Of Ship Agents In The Tramp Service And For Other Purposes)

  1. RA 9521 (An Act Creating A National Book Development Trust Fund To Support Filipino Authorship)

  1. RA 9525 (An Act Appropriating The Sum Of Eleven Billion Three Hundred One Million Seven Hundred Ninety Thousand Pesos (P11,301,790,000.00) As Supplemental Appropriations For An Automated Election System)

  1. RA 9646 (An Act Regulating The Practice Of Real Estate Service In The Philippines, Creating For The Purpose A Professional Regulatory Board Of Real Estate Service, otherwise known as the Real Estate Service Act of the Philippines)

  1. RA 9653 (Rent Control Act of 2009)

  1. RA 9709 (An Act Establishing A Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program For The Prevention, Early Diagnosis And Intervention Of Hearing Loss, otherwise known as the “Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 2009"); and

  1. RA 9710 (The Magna Carta Of Women).

What do you think? Did we really need that much money and that many people (legislators and their staff) to accomplish the above? Feel conned yet?

If we scrap Congress, how can it be worse?


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