First week: How I spent your money

When was my first day as a member of Congress? When the Supreme Court published the historic ruling on the partylist system which overturned the Panganiban formula? When the Commission on Elections proclaimed us last Friday? When I took my oath before Justice Carpio last Monday? When I attended the session last Wednesday?

Monday. After my oath taking at the Supreme Court in the morning, I attended a press conference at the Minority Office in the House of Representatives. I was given a chance to deliver a short message. I thanked the members and supporters of our party. I also criticized the “Gang of Four” in Congress (Arroyos). I asked the president to convince her sister-in-law to step down and allow other nominees to represent the balut vendors.

I attended a higher education committee hearing in the afternoon. The committee tackled HB 2380 – Protecting the rights of students requiring professional licensing examinations to enroll in review centers of their choice and providing penalties thereof – which is principally authored by Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna. I’m supporting this measure. Most likely this bill will be passed by the committee. During the hearing, Rep. Teves of Negros revealed that there is a school in his province requiring students to live in the school dormitory for two months in order to attend review classes.

Schools should not require students to attend review classes. Enrolling in review schools should not be made as a graduation requirement. Review classes are acceptable if they are part of the curriculum. But the popular practice today involves schools which force students to join expensive review classes.

Why do schools want their students to attend review classes? To ensure a high passing rate in the board examinations. This is not illegal. But students which received a good education do not need to be equipped with last-minute “testmanship skills” in order to pass the board. If schools are confident of the quality of learning they are offering, they don’t need to invite review centers in their campuses. The existence of many review centers confirms the weakness of Philippine education today.

I also question our dependence on review centers to pass the board. Four years of intellectual hardwork to be digested in only a few weeks? Schooling through review centers is “education in a hurry” or the “hurrying of education.” Review classes are needed by some students but they should not be advertised as something which all students need to “buy” in order to succeed.

Wednesday. My first time to attend the plenary session as a House member. My temporary seat and desk are located at the right side of the plenary. Next week I might join the rest of the minority in the middle-front of the session hall.

I saw these documents on my desk: Two committee reports, Order of Business, Session Journal and two opinion columns (Fr. Joaquin Bernas – PDI April 27; and Malaya editorial – April 23) recognizing the legality of the Nograles proposal to amend the Constitution.

I was supposed to be inducted in the House but the Speaker has already left for Las Vegas. The ceremonial event will now take place on May 11. This also means there will be no major political decisions to be made in the House while the Speaker is out of the country. It will be a quiet week next week.

I introduced myself to a few solons in the plenary and the south wing lounge. I learned that Rep. Zubiri of Bukidnon reads many blogs everyday. I might convince him to set-up his own blog.

Thursday. There was a House orientation for new members yesterday. Finally, I was able to meet the other new partylist representatives. My seatmate was Rep. Francisco of ARC. I enjoyed the presentation on the legislative process. The House SecGen clarified that local bills on street renaming are only few (eight to be exact).

I visited star witness Jun Lozada in the afternoon to give moral support and to assure him that our group will propose the revival of the NBN-ZTE investigation.


  1. Posted May 3, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Buy a domain name na, Mong! Surely, mas madami ka maisusulat ngayon at mas madami nang dapat makabasa sa iyo.

    Mabuhay ang KABATAAN!

  2. anonymous
    Posted May 3, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Keep up Mong! The balance between activities inside and outside the House is impressive.

  3. anonymous
    Posted May 6, 2009 at 5:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    hello mong, congrats at nakapasok na rin ang kabataan although there are only a few months remaining. i’ll be glad to help in the campaign this coming 2010 elections.

    i hope you could still remember me:
    paul (westmin)

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