‘House of the People’

To call a spade a spade, the House of Representatives has become the model of excellence in at least 5-key reform area that has been skillfully conceived by its agency head – Speaker Rep. Prospero C. Nograles, also the primus inter pares amongst the 238 strong House Membership.

In passing, these reform agenda were anchored on the following:

1. a continuing training and education program
2. massive rehabilitation and upgrading of buildings and facilities
3. upgrading of security systems and services to allow visitors safe and easy access
4. a rationalized committee processing system integrated into the operations of the six committee clusters
5. adoption of electronic platforms to better improve legislative performance with a House Website as gateway of information
6. translating Republic Acts into the major languages of the Philippines

What really strikes the ordinary folks who frequent their Representatives and visitors who come for other legislative activities is the total physical make-over that must reasonably entail costs. Thus, not strangely, some 2,000 visitors come to the House daily and the hits on the Website go at an exponential rate presumably from the ranks of the academics, scholars, researchers, and students.

One must get hold of the 2008 Secretariat Accomplishment Report which is a documentary testimony of what one Speaker Nograles has accomplished in his brief stint as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It can only be the work of genius since it clearly could only be the work of strategic thinking and innovative action – every aspect of legislative life appears to have been neatly and clearly streamlined.

In terms of systems, approaches, and practices, it would look like the vibrant leadership of the House has permanent closed the door of 30 years of virtual neglect of a vital institution of Philippine democracy. Perhaps, one tends o wonder why then Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr – all his terms of office as Speaker combined failed to make the dent. Then Speaker Manuel B. Villar, Jr. has neither made any stride in this direction that could approximate a meaningful transformation.

Thus, if accomplishments speak for themselves, Rep. Nograles has done a wonderful job except that it must be his last term as a Representative of the 1st District of Davao City. Perhaps, people will be excited if becomes the next governor of the province and effect the same ‘template’ of reforms he has launched in an institution that has become the butt of ridicule in recent past.

One with an ‘edifice complex’ would say, the whole Batasan Complex is splendid architectural attraction as another one, not used to seeing clean and modern amenities in a public toilet might even say that these amenities put even 5 –star hotels to shame. Really, a whole work in physical, administrative, operational and functional areas has been remarkable achieved under the leadership of Rep. Nograles and his only fault may have been that of having sponsored a counterpart bill to HR 1109. But that’s another issue.