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Calbayog hosts First Provincial PCL Convention

January 24, 2012

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  More or less 156 Samar legislators attended the 1st Provincial Convention of the Philippine Councilors League - Samar Chapter held last January 19, 2012 at the Cultural and Convention Center in Calbayog.

The participants were welcomed by a Sarakiki-Hadang Ritual performed by the scholars of the Calbayog City Arts and Cultural Office (CACO).

Being hosted by Calbayog City, no less than the City Mayor, Hon. Ronald P. Aquino; PCL Samar Chapter President, Hon Roger Casurao and Samar’s First District Congressman Mel Senen Sarmiento graced the occasion to welcome the delegates.

As speakers, the PCL invited its National Chairman, Hon. Alan Zulueta and its National President, Hon. Alma Moreno-Salic.

In its welcome message, Mayor Aquino thanked the PCL for holding its first convention in Calbayog. He expressly shared his vision to make Calbayog as the convention capital in Eastern Visayas.

Zulueta delivered lengthily the “Innovations in Local Legislation” which is said to be a key to building transformational governance in Samar. Moreno-Salic gave an update on what she has accomplished under her term. On the other hand, Cong. Sarmiento shared a timely discussion on climate change and its challenges to urbanization and the government’s policy response.

The session was ended with a press conference attended by the local media. The panel was composed by Hon. Roger Casurao, Hon. Alan zulueta and Hon. Mel Senen Sarmiento.

One of the questions raised was on the performance evaluation of the legislators. According to Zulueta, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as partner of the Philippine Councilors League, provides an assessment tool for local government units. A tie up with other agencies in the implementation of the Local Legislative Award Program where a regional selection committee is tasked to assess the performance of the legislative councils based on specific criteria has been undertaken. A Sangguniang Bayan’s performance is being rated on the number of legislations passed, office structure, sessions and effectiveness of their personnel.

Moreover, an ongoing competition for the Ten Most Outstanding Councilors of the Philippines is being partnered with Sen. Edgardo Angara. An outstanding councilor is expected to receive one million pesos worth of project funded by Angara. The award is intended to encourage legislators to enhance their capabilities and motivate them to better serve their constituents.

To further improve the competency level of PCL members, Casurao announced the institutionalization of the PCL’s Legislative Academy. The academy has already produced 19 graduates of a Masters Degree and 600 more are expected to graduate from its masteral and baccalaureate degrees.

Recently, the Civil Service Commission thru Republic Act No. 101-56 has conferred upon members of the Sangguniang Bayan or Sangguniang Panlalawigan the appropriate Civil Service Eligibility. The said law was approved by President Benigno Aquino on December 20, 2011.

A councilor who has finished college or a bachelor’s degree and has served nine (9) years or three (3) terms will be entitled to a Career Service Professional Eligibility. If a member has only six (6) years service as legislator, he is entitled to a Career Service Sub-professional Eligibility, provided that he has earned at least seventy-two (72) units in any four year course in college or baccalaureate degree program.

The members are reminded to comply with the Civil Service Commission’s requirement in the conferment of the said eligibility. The qualified applicants have to submit their service records, transcript of records and other credentials which will be processed for approval by the CSC.

Another issue raised by the local media is the possibility of amending the qualifications of would be legislators in order to fully deliver its mandate as legislators. As legislators, the need to increase the educational level in order to have a comprehensive understanding of their responsibility as lawmakers and respond effectively to the needs of their constituents was a topic of discussion.

This was asked by the media after commenting on the reality that there are legislators who cannot even read and write.

PCL Chair Zulueta informed that moves have been initiated to deliberate on the issue. However, the Local Government Code and the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides for a very minimal requirement. Casurao explained that the provisions could not be violated to give every citizen the opportunity to run as mandated in a democratic country. A constitutional amendment needs a legislative act of congress, Casurao adds.

The convention was generally considered a success by the organizers despite the absence of more than fifty (50) more legislators from Samar. Most participants were delighted to be billeted at the new Ciriaco’s Hotel that hosted a party in the same evening.