Seares: Cutie del Mar and Edu Rama of Cebu City have separately filed loads of bills in the House. Yet since June 30, 2022, both legislators have passed not one local bill; the few national bills each helped pass were co-authored with scores or more than a hundred other legislators.

CEBU. Cebu Representatives Rachel Marguerite “Cutie” del Mar and Eduardo “Edu” Rama Jr.
CEBU. Cebu Representatives Rachel Marguerite “Cutie” del Mar and Eduardo “Edu” Rama Jr. Photos from Facebook

[] That explains why your legislator works to secure projects from DPWH or some other national agency and favors from the government to specific leaders or voters from your district.

[] If your legislator took position on a controversial national issue, you may have to check out his or her vote. Most if not all House members from Cebu haven’t talked publicly about national concerns. Your legislator is hardly seen or heard in the local news, more so in national media.

NOT ONE LOCAL LAW YET. Rachel Marguerite “Cutie” del Mar and Eduardo “Edu” Rama Jr. are both members of Congress, representatives from the north and south districts, respectively, of Cebu City.

Since last June 30, 2022 when they started their term, we haven’t read or heard about a local bill of local application -- affecting or of interest to Cebu -- that either one authored and was signed into law.

The few national bills they co-authored and became laws merely carry their signatures, along with scores to more than a hundred other legislators’ signatures.

Cutie and Edu did file a lot of bills but one year and eight months from June 30, 2022 when their term started, Cebuanos have yet to know a local bill from either of them that was already enacted into law.

PENDING OR SENT TO SENATE. According to House records, such bills are still “pending” in some committee or, a few, transmitted to the Senate. The few laws where their names appear as one among many co-authors are national and, however they affect Cebu nationally, are not credited by the House as their sole work.

CUTIE’S MEGA CEBU BILL; LRT, MRT, MONORAIL, SUBWAY. Easily topping the list of local bills Cutie del Mar re-filed are:

(a) House Bill 00081 creating the Mega Cebu Development Authority (MCDA);

(b) HB 00135 providing for the construction of a light-rail transport (LRT) and metro rail transport (MRT) or monorail transport over, as well as subway transport system under three most congested road sections in Cebu City north.

The first bill would address the problem of coordinating projects and solutions to common concerns such as traffic, garbage, and law and order. Both have been pending since July 26, 2022 with their respective committees: committee on government enterprises and privatization and committee on transportation.

The second bill would help bring about a mass transport system that requires various modes: not just the bus rapid transit, which is still ongoing and mired in controversy. Raul del Mar had been a strong and consistent advocate for reducing the city’s ever-growing traffic crisis. Her father’s mass transport bills were among the first batch of bills Cutie filed first month in office.

EDU BILLS ON METRO CEBU, KIDNEY INSTITUTE. Edu Rama’s HB 0961 would create the Metro Cebu Development Authority (MCDA), which obviously would have the same purpose as Cutie’s Mega Cebu Development Authority bill. The proposed agency or authority would even bear the same initials, differing only in “M” (Mega for Cutie’s and “Metro” for Edu’s). Most likely, they’d merge the two bills and come up with one substitute bill.

The Cebu Kidney Institute Edu Rama would create (under HB 0465) must have some of the services the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City offers. That definitely would help Cebuanos and others in the country’s south needing the special medical service.

Many Edu Rama bills, like Cutie del Mar’s, address national problems as well: such as creating a national office on persons with disability affairs (HB 04606) and a center for dengue virus testing and screening (HB 04607), and increasing salaries of public school teachers and providing allowances (HB 04608). Another national bill would require every city and municipality a 10-year master plan (HB 06201); still another bill would protect sharks, rays and chimaeras (HB 02769).

DEFINITELY NOT PAROCHIAL. Not true that House of Representatives members, such as Cutie del Mar and Edu Rama and the rest of the Cebu legislators, push only bills of local application.

From the House-published list of bills they filed from June 30, 2022 to February 28, 2024, one can see they address both national and local concerns. On national matters, aside from those imposed by House leaders -- such as appropriating funds for government operations or creating an investment scheme -- they also tackle problems they themselves find worthy of attention, such as a magna carta on poverty.

SLOW PROCESS OF LEGISLATION. A common experience of Cebu legislators, apparently suffered by other House members as well, is the slow pace of legislation. Unless certified to as urgent by the president or considered urgent by the speaker and other House leaders, a bill moves almost at snail’s pace.

More often than not, a legislator has to file and re-file a bill before it is enacted and signed into law. Cutie del Mar must have picked up the cue of lobbying from her dad, having been her chief of staff and serving as congresswoman herself for one term. But probably, she and Edu still have to hone the skill of nudging and persuading House deciders for their pet local bills to move faster.

A Cebu lawmaker, or any other House member, has to seek the support of House leaders and his or her colleagues. That explains their m signatures on national concerns such as the Warehouse Receipts Law, the Maharlika Investment Fund, the National Citizens Training program, the film and music industries. Or on bills of faraway concerns such as changing the name of a school in Zamboanga or expanding functions of the Bataan Freeport authority.

FRESH-TERMERS. They are freshmen, first-termers, still far from the threat of term limit. Cutie del Mar won and served from 2010 to 2013, which for term limit no longer counted. The ban applies only after three consecutive terms.

What must help is Cutie’s experience from that stint, along with numerous bills that were left over by her dad Raul del Mar, when he died in late 2021, and many of his bills she re-filed in the first month of her 2022-2025 term. The del Mars have held the seat since 1987, now on its 37th consecutive year, with Raul del Mar occupying it for two nine-year terms and almost finishing his third when he died.

Edu Rama is the newbie through and through. His legislative experience before Congress was solely with the Cebu City Council. He wrested in 2022 the city south district from the Abellanosa family whose patriarch Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa held the seat for nine consecutive years (2013 to 2022) but failed in his attempt to make his son, BG Rodrigo Abellanosa, continue the chain of power for his family.

A threat to fresh-termers is that they might not be reelected and wouldn’t have the chance of re-filing the bills that get stuck in the legislative traffic.

THIS MAY EXPLAIN why a congressman or congresswoman has to do things other than pure legislation. In the district report (a practice Raul del Mar was known to have diligently followed), Cutie and Edu, or any other House member, have to show more than a pile of bills, only a precious few reach the president’s desk and become laws.

House members make up for the usually meager report by securing for their respective districts from national agencies and offices infrastructure projects and cash aid during disasters (“ayuda politics”), making their presence felt by the handouts and the regular visits to barangays and sitios. Lacking or failing in off-Congress work could spell disaster for a reelectionist, especially a fresh-termer.


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