Teddy Casiño's Legislative Agenda
Congressman Teodoro “Teddy” Casino was asked in the Senatorial Debates of ANC dubbed as “Harapan 2013" held on February 5, 2013 about the most defining issue in the 2013 Elections and his strategies to generate jobs, among others. On the first, he replied poverty. He said that despite the economic growth the Philippines had achieved in 2012, still many remain poor. On the second, he mentioned lowering the cost of doing business; ensuring a dynamic agriculture and industrial sector; and supporting micro and small scale industries and social enterprises.
But, does Congressman Teodoro Casino’s agenda for the Senate and legislative track record include poverty and employment issues?
What does his legislative agenda for the Senate say?
As contained in his websitei, Cong. Casino carries the intertwined issues of poverty and job creation in his bid for a Senate seat. His agenda focus mainly on farmers and workers who are mostly affected by poverty. He will push for genuine agrarian reform and “cooperativization”, modernization of agriculture, and industrialization. He likewise mentioned in a news report that he wants to enact a new agrarian reform program to increase farmers' incomes and ensure a steady supply of locally-produced agricultural products. He will pursue a national industrial strategy involving small, medium enterprises and strategic industriesii. He recognizes the major role of micro, small and medium enterprises in generating revenue and employment. He will also prioritize giving adequate work and decent wages to the workers, free land and subsidy to farmers, food security, among othersiii.
Does his legislative initiatives in the House of Representatives take poverty and employment issues?
Cong. Casino has advocated strongly for workers. He principally authored Republic Act No. 9504, amending the National Internal Revenue Code that exempted minimum wage earners including their holiday pay, overtime pay and night shift differential from income tax. He filed bills in the 15th Congress that include, among others: a) increasing the salary of government doctors (HB 5568); b) providing for security of tenure, standardized salary and other benefits for day care workers (HB 5852); c) ensuring occupational health, safety and welfare for workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry (HB 6073); d) fixing of monthly salaries for bus drivers (HB 3370). In the 13th Congress, he proposed the granting of emergency income tax reliefs (HB 4240).
He likewise proposed measures that seek to lower the costs of petroleum products and exempt certain transactions from value-added tax. These include: a) regulating the downstream petroleum industry (HB04355, 15th Congress); b) addressing the worsening state of the power industry in the Philippines (HB06173, 15th Congress); c) reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate on petroleum products, electricity and water services to six percent (HB06416, 15the Congress); d) classifying the sale or importation of petroleum products and raw materials in the manufacture thereof as VAT-exempt transactions (HB03442, 14th Congress, re-filed in the 15th Congress); and e) classifying the sales electricity by generation, transmission, and distribution companies, and the services of franchise grantees of electric utilities as VAT-exempt transactions (HB04162, 14th Congress, re-filed in the 15th Congress as HB01630)iv. Lowering the cost of electricity could reduce business costs especially for micro, small and medium enterprises. It will also fuel more businesses and enterprises that could generate employment. Reducing VAT on petroleum products, electricity and water services, on the other hand, will benefit a large segment of the population.
To assist micro and small enterprises cope with business costs, Cong. Casino, who chairs the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Committee in the 15th Congress, proposed to put a cap on rentals of commercial spaces for micro and small businesses, thereby expanding the coverage of the Rent Control Law (HB 5636, 15th Congress). The measure will allow micro and small businesses to use savings on rentals to augment capital. This supports his agenda of lowering the cost of doing business. However, the said proposed piece of legislation and some other proposals on small business and entrepreneurship development have yet to be passed.
His position and agenda on economic issues seems to echo what many also consider as imperatives for inclusive growth and sustainable development. For instance, IBON Foundation said that “jobs and higher wages are the best mechanisms for inclusive growth, which can only be achieved with well-developed Filipino industry and equitable agricultural development”. The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Rider, who visited the country in December 2012, had the same line of argument. According to him, “social protection like higher wages and pensions could actually make economic growth more sustainable”v. Former Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno likewise suggests to modernizing agriculture, reviving manufacturing and developing tourism in order to create a lot of steady and decent jobs for Filipinos.vi According to him, modernizing agriculture will require making agrarian reform work and focusing on issuance of individual titles to agrarian reform beneficiaries. Diokno also said that lowering power costs and addressing power supply shortage are crucial to reviving the manufacturing industry in the country.
Cong. Casino appears to have consistently carried substantive national issues at the lower house and articulated them well. His legislative agenda and track record mentioned above attest to these. As a party-list representative, he has consistently pursued proposals that have national implications and address issues affecting the underprivileged, the marginalized and the ordinary people.
The Senate, as the upper legislative chamber, is expected to address wider issues and non-parochial concerns. It is, thus, important for one seeking a seat in the Senate to have full grasp and judicious articulation of issues of national importance, supported by his/her legislative agenda.
This Fact Check was submitted by Atty. Robert Larga. Atty. Larga is doing his doctoral studies in public administration at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG), UP Diliman, Quezon City. He was formerly connected with the Council for the Welfare of Children. This was submitted as part of his class requirements in a PA 208 (Philippine Administrative System) course.
Atty. Larga started his professional career at the Council for the Welfare of Children as Planning Officer. He served as Senior State Counsel at the Department of Justice. He worked for the International Labour Organization in its country office in Manila and regional office in Bangkok. His areas of exposure include human rights, especially of children, migrants and refugees; anti-human trafficking and all its aspects (prevention, protection of victims, investigation and prosecution, and reintegration); migration and its labour dimensions; forced labour; child labour; child abuse and exploitation; administrative law; and international law. He is proficient in program development and project management having handled national and regional projects.
- Sourced from the House of Representatives Legislative Information System
- “Higher wages, pensions can boost demand, make growth sustainable – ILO Chief” , Agence France Presse, December 17, 2012, accessed through http://www.interaksyon.com/article/50585/higher-wages-pensions-can-boost-demand-make-growth-sustainable---ilo-chief
- PER SE, UP School of Economics, accessed through http://www.econ.upd.edu.ph/perse/?p=2060, on 25 February 2013