The Achievements of the 12th Congress

Article excerpt

Byline: Franklin M. Drilon

OVER the past three years, the Senate, in coordination with the House of Representatives, has enacted into law a total of 67 major pieces of legislation.

This record was achieved in spite of the many investigations conducted by various committees of the upper chamber in aid of legislation. But these investigations are necessary if the legislators are to perform their jobs well. The legislators need facts if they are to enact wise and effective laws.

Parliamentary investigations also deter abuses by government officials and keep them from neglecting their duties. In exposing cases of graft and corruption, as well as violations of human rights, the Congress has not only enabled government prosecutors to go after those probably guilty of corruption and human rights violations, it has provided a deterrence to crimes of commission or omission by the mere threat of public exposure.

Legislation is a slow and painstaking process. Rushing legislation without proper research and study could lead to more harm than good. However, wise legislation strengthens the nation and lays the foundation for progress. That is why, during the three years that I have been at the helm of the Senate, I have stressed hard work, basic honesty and a fundamental sense of fairness as the three essential qualities of a good public servant.

With the full cooperation of my colleagues in the Senate, we have forged together a working coalition that focused on the real needs of our people and eschewed partisanship in favor of the higher interests of the state.

The legislator is an indispensable guardian of our freedom, said US Senator William J. Fullbright, one of the most respected legislators of the United States. It is true that great executives have played a powerful role in the development of civilization, but such leaders appear sporadically, by chance. They do not always appear when they are most needed. The great executives have given inspiration and push to the advancement of human society, but it is the legislator who has given stability and continuity to that slow and painful progress.

Thus every congress adds to the strong structure of the state not just to house the present generation, but also the next generations. Nationbuilding is a continuing process and so is the work of legislation.

In the present 12th Congress, legislative investigations have enabled the legislature to strengthen the laws against corruption through amendments of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and other laws. Among these laws are Republic Act No. 9184, providing for the modernization, standardization and regulation of the procurement activities of government, and RA 9160, as amended by RA 9194, defining the crime of money laundering and providing penalties for its violation.

It is in government procurement wherein lies great temptations for graft, while undeterred money laundering enables the corrupt to conceal the profits of his misdeed. These two laws plug some loopholes of corruption.

New legislation protecting human rights were also enacted by the 12th Congress (20012003). These include RA 9208, instituting policies to eliminate trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and RA 9201, declaring December 4 to 10 as National Human Rights Consciousness Week.

The Congress also focused its attention on the growing menace of illicit drugs. It passed the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002, repealing RA 6425 and creating a new agency with additional powers to combat this appalling threat to law and order and social stability.

A new law benefiting landless farmers is RA 9176, extending the period until December 31, 2020, for the filing of applications for administrative legalization (free patent) and judicial confirmation of imperfect and incomplete titles to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, amending for this purpose, Commonwealth Act No. …