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MARCH 23, 2013

NR # 3052

A Legislative Academy will strengthen participatory democracy: Belmonte

The blueprint for a proposed Legislative Academy, under study by the current Congress, should be pursued in the next Congress to press the build-up of the nations institutional capacities, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. said. While we exert efforts to better coordinate and align local and national programs to sustain the present macroeconomic gains, we also need to continue building up our institutional capacities, Belmonte said. Like any other organization, we need to have efficient structures and systems. We need to have people who can do their jobs well. We need to be more aware of the nuances of the legislative process, and we need to adopt the best practices that will lead to higher performance, he added. A Legislative Academy, according to Belmonte, will enhance the skills and capabilities of legislators and build a repository of ideas and knowledge attuned to the specific and unique demands of policymakers. As you are aware, the institution of a Legislative Academy has been well on the mind of Congress for some time already, he revealed. There are three measures being studied by the House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulations House Bill Nos. 227, 108 and 1895, authored by Rep. Amado Bagatsing, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales and Rep. Ben Evardone, respectively. Time is against us in the current Congress. I sincerely hope that in the next Congress, the legislative foundation for this Academy can be established, the Speaker said. In the recent awards program of the Philippine Councilors League, Belmonte lauded the local government legislators for having taken the initiative to establish Legislative Academy centers in urban areas for the PCL members in pursuit of higher education. However, the Speaker believes there is much more that can be done by institutionalizing the program to make it a crucible of ideas and promote a strong participatory democracy. I envision the Legislative Academy not merely as a training institution for national and local government lawmakers. I envision it as a focal point a place of convergence where both national and local lawmakers can discuss issues and concerns together, hand in hand, and support each others policies with laws and ordinances, he said. Belmonte also envisions the academy as a place of interaction, not only among lawmakers, but also with the larger sectors of civil society. It is where the best ideas will be nurtured with the involvement of our citizens, and where the very highest ideals of participatory democracy will be fulfilled, he said. (30) dpt