Senator Gatchalian files priority bills for 17th Congress

Senator Gatchalian files priority bills for 17th Congress

Senator Win Gatchalian signs copies of his priority bills that outline his legislative agenda that focus on education reform and youth empowerment on his first day at the Senate. (Photo by Mark Cayabyab)

Senator Win Gatchalian has filed ten priority bills during the first round of filing in the Senate, outlining the key points of a legislative agenda focused on education reform and youth empowerment.

“As Senator, I will continue my career-long advocacy of building a world-class Philippine education system that will serve as a catalyst for equitable economic growth and genuine social justice across all sectors of society,” said Gatchalian, a former three-term mayor and two-term congressman of Valenzuela City.

Foremost among the measures filed is Senate Bill No. 198, the Free Higher Education Act. First filed by Gatchalian in the House of Representatives in July 2015, the bill’s proposed tuition-free policy in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) has since gained strong support among members of both houses of Congress.

“I am confident that the Free Higher Education Act will be passed during the 17th Congress, institutionalizing universal access to higher education in the Philippines for generations to come,” said Gatchalian.

For the basic education sector, Gatchalian has filed several measures aiming to improve student and teacher welfare.

The Nutri-Skwela Act of 2016 (SB 204) proposes the establishment of a nationwide feeding program which would provide all public school students enrolled in preschool to grade 6 with at least one nutritious hot meal per day for free.

“Fighting hunger and malnutrition among elementary school children is essential in ensuring strong academic performance by our young learners,” explained Gatchalian, who started the renowned Valenzuela City K to 6 In-School Feeding Program during his final term as mayor in 2012.

Meanwhile, teachers stand to gain significant opportunities for professional skills development through the Continuing Education For Teachers Act (SB 206), a bill which will set higher standards for public school teachers’ training by infusing significant public funds into mandatory training seminars.

To ensure that education is accessible to those outside of the scope of formal education, Gatchalian also filed the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Act (SB 205). The ALS Act seeks to expand and intensify the reach of non-formal module-based education to out-of-school youth, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities (PWDs), internally-displaced and geographically-isolated persons.

In further strengthening non-formal education, Gatchalian has also filed Senate Bill No. 207, which would amend the Local Government Code of 1991 to devote the Special Education Fund (SEF) to non-formal education purposes, especially early childhood development.

“A world-class education system must be an inclusive one which provides even the most marginalized peoples in the most far-flung regions of the Philippines with quality educational opportunities,” said Gatchalian.

Other bills filed by Gatchalian include the Anti-Hazing Act of 2016 (SB 199), the SIM Card Registration Act (SB 203), the CCTV Cameras for Security Crime Prevention Act (SB 202), the Proof-of-Parking Space Act (SB 201), and the Mandatory ROTC Act (SB 200).