While most other senatorial candidates are spending most of their time making promises to voters, three-term Pasig Representative Roman Romulo will show the public his long record of legislative work, a significant number of which have now been enacted into law.
Romulo is coming from a family with an undeniable history of public service – he is the son of former Senator and foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo while his grandfather is the great statesman and nationalist Carlos P. Romulo, who once served as president of the United Nations General Assembly. Romulo, 48, is running for Senator under the Partido Galing at Puso. The party’s standard bearer is Senator Grace Poe.
In an interview with The Filipino Scribe, Romulo earnestly discussed his accomplishments in Congress as well as the pieces of legislation he wants to introduce if he is elected to the Senate. But first, he talked about his experience on the campaign trail so far.
“Every campaign sortie, I meet 5000 to 10000 people. I’m already overwhelmed by that, but come to think of it, I need to achieve more,” he said, lamenting that only a handful candidates are able to get media exposure because of their fame and endless campaign ads. He then went on to discuss the importance of implementing campaign finance reform.
“In the system we have now, only the rich candidates can have their messages amplified. Hence, the public are not able to know all choices they have,” he said, proposing that government-supported air time for candidates may be helpful.
Romulo highlights his nine years of experience as a House legislator to prove he has what it takes to get the job done in the Senate. “Legislation entails hard work. You need to listen to your constituents to know what they need. You need to attend endless meetings, and you need to study every proposal that comes your way. Most of all, you need to cultivate working relationships with your colleagues and even your counterparts in the Senate,” he explained.
That, he says, is the secret why he was able to successfully guided into passage two landmark laws for the education sector: Republic Act 10648 or the Iskolar ng Bayan Act and Republic Act 10687 or the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act. The first law grants automatic admission to state universities and colleges for those who finished high school in top ten. The second one, meanwhile, makes it easier for poor and deserving students to seek financial aid from the government.
“Pangarap kong magkaroon ng isang bansa kung saan hindi balakid ang kahirapan sa lahat ng gusto mag-kolehiyo,” Roman said, emphasizing that the issue of education is close to his heart because of his constituents in Pasig City and because it is in his blood (his grandfather once served as president of the University of the Philippines).
In recent months, Romulo has also turned his attention to another issue that is relevant for many low and middle-income Filipinos – the need for tax reform. “Hardworking Filipinos need to keep more of what they earn instead of the government taking away a big part of it,” he said. He also explained that the administration of President Benigno Aquino III is not explaining correcting to the public how the arithmetic of tax reform will work.
“They keep on saying that lower taxes means they have to cut government programs like the Pantawid Pamilya. The fact is, the administration is overspending,” Romulo said. He pointed out that increasing the take home pay of working Filipinos will also boost their spending power and that this will lead to more economic activity. “We need a President who has compassion for the poor,” he added.