NEGROS Occidental Third District Representative Jose Francisco "Kiko" Benitez has started championing legislation encompassing a holistic human development for the people of the Metro Third banking mainly on digital transformation.
As he desires to continue what he has started, the Negrense solon is seeking reelection. He is filing Monday, October 4, his certificate of candidacy at the Provincial Capitol’s Social Hall in Bacolod City.
"I entered politics from the academe, hoping to continue the programs that my brother has started. I hope those who supported me in 2016 will continue to support me in 2022, as we still have many things to do. I again offer myself to the position in my desire to serve my constituents again," he said.
Growing up, Dr. Kiko Benitez spent many summers in his mother’s childhood home in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.
At an early age, he developed a strong passion for literature. At 11 years old, he co-wrote an adaptation of Greek mythology, published by the Children’s Communication Center of Virgilio Almario, who was named National Artist for Literature.
His deep interest in literature led him to pursue a career as a scholar of literary theory. He earned his bachelor’s degree with flying colors, as a summa cum laude, from Cornell University and his master’s and doctorate degree in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
While as a faculty at the University of Washington-Seattle, Benitez has written many essays exploring the friction between subjectivity, empire, and the nation-state in the literature and film of insular Southeast Asia in the late 19th and 20th centuries and the evolution of Filipino identity through periods of national transition and global transformation.
In 2011, he returned permanently to the Philippines to lead the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) into its centennial. Under his leadership, the PWU strengthened its commitment to a holistic education that cultivates family solidarity, environmental consciousness, and civic participation through progressive pedagogy aided by digital technology.
Dr. Kiko Benitez initiated the curriculum change from fundamental to tertiary education to equip learners with 21st-century skills and adapt them to the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
He also spearheaded transforming the rooftops of its high school campus into vertical gardens. As PWU president, he received the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education in the 2017 Asia’s Education Excellence Awards.
Elected to the House of Representatives in 2019 representing the Third District of Negros Occidental, Benitez has been championing bills to harness science and technological innovation to ensure inclusive and sustainable development; and uphold human dignity, agency, and creativity in development processes.
In total, Benitez principally authored or co-authored 277 bills and led 14 technical working groups.
As chairperson of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development, the solon has shepherded the approval of vital bills to promote the people’s right to the city through affordable in-city housing models.
As vice-chairperson of the Committee of Agriculture and Food, Benitez led the technical working groups to strengthen the sugarcane industry and mainstream urban farms.
As vice-chairperson of the Special Committee on Creative Industries, he co-sponsored the bill to support artists, artisans, creative professionals, and entrepreneurs in enhancing their craft and broadening their market.
Benitez also led technical working groups on bills to prevent and control marine and plastic pollution. Through his determination, the bill banning single-use plastics was approved on third and final reading for the first time since it was first filed 20 years ago.
The congressman, on his first term, also filed a comprehensive bill to accelerate digital transformation and digital re-skilling in the country. Benitez also filed important bills to expand the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital (TLJPH) in Silay City and establish new court salas, a marine hatchery, a new branch of the Land Transportation Office and schools for sports and arts in the district.
Benitez’ outstanding performance in Congress is matched, if not exceeded, by his accomplishments in the district. He shepherded national funding for roads and bridges and community centers and provided crucial assistance to impoverished families at this time of unprecedented economic crisis due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. At critical periods throughout this pandemic, Benitez, together with former Congressman Albee Benitez, mobilized resources to establish a molecular laboratory in the TLJPH and an emergency operations center, as well as expedite the distribution of vaccines.
Benitez firmly believes in the potential of legislation to promote human development; provide people quality and relevant education; enable them to adapt to a fast-changing world; and empower them to dream, imagine and build a future that fulfills the needs of people and the planet.
A very diligent but humble worker, he has dedicated his first term to introducing legislation that balances the imperatives of the economy and ecology amid existential threats to human and natural environments. He is committed to finish what he started in his next term.
Benitez authored and co-authored 277 bills and these encompassed various aspects.
On Select bills on environmental protection
• HB 9147: Banning single-use plastics
• HB 9181: Institutionalizing environmental-economic accounting/natural capital accounting (with Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda as primary author)
• Bills on marine pollution localizing MARPOL 73/78, and London Convention and Protocol
On digital transformation
• HB 6874: Comprehensive framework for digital transformation
• HB 6773: Digital payment system
• HB 9807: Promoting digital reskilling
• HB 9057: Implementing roll-over data
• HB 11098: Establishing digital hubs per LGU
On education, innovation, and creativity
• HB 6749: Community learning centers for lifelong learning
• HB 7634: Promoting film tourism
• HB 9139: Strengthening teacher education
• HB 10107: Development of creative industries
On comprehensive frameworks for urban and rural development
• HB 8385: Promoting urban agriculture
• HB 8248: Institutionalizing in-city housing
• HB 8736: Institutionalizing rental housing subsidy
• HB 3113: Promoting smart, green and human-centered mobility
• HB 3891: Sustainable cities framework for LGUs
• HB 8005: Convergence program for sustainable rural development
• HB 9205: Establishing agricultural information system for yield monitoring and marketing
• HB 45: Creating the Visayas Development Authority
• HR 412: Support to the sugarcane industry
On post-pandemic recovery
• HB 6953: Bayanihan 2
• HB 6815: ARISE bill
• HB 8628: Bayanihan 3
On supporting the bureaucracy
• HB 43: Providing retirement benefits of barangay officials, including barangay tanods
• HB 44: Expanding benefits of barangay health workers (BHWs)
• HB 10120: Increasing compensation of public social workers
Bills of local significance
• HB 4763: Increasing bed capacity of Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital
• HB 3890: Establishing marine hatchery in Talisay City
• HB 46: Construction of Bacolod-Victorias coastal road
• HB 8034: Establishing LTO Office in E.B. Magalona
• HB 2510: Establishing RTC branch in Victorias City
• HB 6518: Establishing an RTC branch in Silay City
• HB 8035: Establishing high school for the arts and design in Silay City
• HB 8036: Establishing high school for sports in E.B. Magalona
14 Technical Working Groups chaired
• TWG on bills banning single-use plastics
• TWG on Bayanihan 3
• TWG on the urban agriculture bill
• TWG on LGU agricultural information system bill
• TWG on amendments to Sugarcane Industry Development Act
• TWG on a bill to establish digital hubs per LGU
• TWG on the regulation of blockchain technology
• TWG on bill mandating roll-over data scheme (with Deputy Speaker Strike Revilla as co-chairperson)
• TWG on bills on MARPOL 73/78
• TWG on bills on London Convention and Protocol
• TWG on amendments to Philippine Competition Act
• TWG on bills for funding of housing programs
• TWG on bills upholding rights of internally displaced persons
• TWG on anti-discrimination bills
• Roads, worth 2.52 billion pesos
• National roads, worth 1.7 billion pesos
• Tourism roads, worth 320.5 million pesos
• Farm-to-market/mill roads, worth 309.7 million pesos
• Local roads, worth 191 million pesos
• Bridges, worth 403.4 million pesos
• Flood control structures, worth 1.2 billion pesos
• Irrigation facilities, worth 290.6 million pesos
• Multi-purpose community centers, worth 210.6 million pesos
Health and social protection
• Establishment of molecular laboratory in TLJPH, accredited by DOH in June 2020
• Health centers and health equipment, worth 22.5 million pesos
• Medical assistance to indigent patients, a total of 25.5 million pesos
• Cash assistance to low-income families under DSWD-AICS and DOLE-TUPAD, a total of 77.6 million pesos
• Emergency housing assistance to 385 flood-affected families, 5,000 pesos each under NHA-EHAP
Education and digital re-skilling
• Cash assistance to 2,016 students under CHED Tulong Dunong
• School buildings, worth 38.9 million pesos
• Free WiFi projects in 33 sites in the district
• Tech4Ed Centers in 3 LGUs
• DigitalJobsPH training program
• Scholarship for 25 students in China universities