He may be one of the new faces in the Senate, but Senator Win Gatchalian is no neophyte to public service with his almost two decades of experience marked by honesty, integrity, and a relentless drive to serve his countrymen.
The Valenzuela Experience
Win Gatchalian’s early years of corporate experience in transacting with various government agencies actually inspired him to become a public servant.
As a top business executive, he saw the need for government agencies to ease the burden on entrepreneurs, who want to expand their businesses, in order to boost local economy.
So when Valenzuela City’s lone congressional district was divided into two in 2001, he took his chance to run for public office and became the first Representative of the First District in Valenzuela City.
As a member of the 12th Congress, Win served as vice chairman for the House Committees on—Government Enterprise and Privatization, Trade and Industry, as well as Tourism until 2004.
From clinching his first congressional seat, he then moved on to serve as the mayor of more than 600,000 Valenzuelanos for three consecutive terms from 2004 to 2013.
Innovations and Best Practices in Local Governance
Just six months into his first term as mayor, Win ended the city’s garbage woes and turned Valenzuela into an urban model of cleanliness.
In the aftermath of the devastation of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009, he was able to help make Valenzuela City as the first city in Metro Manila to clear its 4,459.4-hectare land area of flood debris and rubbish.
He also streamlined and simplified government transactions in his bid to rein in corruption and to improve public service by integrating relevant technologies in government procedures, he was also able to improve tax collection and increase taxpayers’ confidence in local administration.
In fact, Valenzuela City’s revenues and income more than doubled from P900 million in 2004 to P2.1 billion in 2013.
Win made infrastructure development in Valenzuela a priority during his term, constantly improving city operations for both citizens and enterprises.
In 2008, he opened the government-funded P90-million Lingunan-Lawang Bato overpass to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It linked the eastern and western portions of the city that had earlier been separated by the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
The construction of the 80-meter-long and 10-meter-wide bridge significantly eased traffic congestion along the narrow Canumay East Service Road and the NLEX’s busy Malinta Exit, and facilitated trade flow across the city.
He also oversaw the construction work of a new government complex, which strategically placed city offices and public service agencies in a single district. This included a new executive building, a finance center and the police headquarters.
WIN ang Edukasyon Program
Good Education is Good Governance, this was Win’s driving force when he launched a comprehensive educational program in Valenzuela City—the “WIN ang Edukasyon” program. He prioritized the building of more than 2,000 classrooms; free work texts, notebooks and other learning materials for public elementary students; state-of-the-art computer laboratories aiming for better ICT-enabled education system; provided significant attention and resources to early childhood care development; expansion of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela, the only city-owned university in the city to answer the growing demands of high school students to pursue studies in higher education; expansion and facility improvement of the Valenzuela Polytechnic University to provide quality technical and vocational education; and established Dr. Pio Valenzuela Scholarship program to ensure college education for the Valenzuelano youth.
He set in motion a holistic education program for the Valenzuelanos—including the development of a world-class Valenzuela City School of Mathematics and Science; school-based feeding program that mobilized communities; empowerment of parents through the Nanay-Teacher Program; and continuous mastery of skills to strengthen competencies of teachers, among others.
Win focus on improving educational access and quality during his nine-year tenure as mayor, who helped transformed the city’s local education system into one of the best in the nation.
Displina Village: Bagong Bahay, Bagong Buhay
Another significant project of Win when he was still mayor of Valenzuela City, dubbed as Disiplina Village. The first housing project intended specifically for Typhoon Ondoy victims and the only one initiated by a local government unit (LGU).
Through his call to help the 1,860 Valenzuelano victim families displaced by the devastation of Typhoon Ondoy, businesses and industries based in the city pulled together resources to raise funds for the construction of housing units to take them away from the danger zones along Tullahan River and to rebuild their lives in a safer place. The money raised was coursed through the Dakilang Handog Foundation, Inc., while the city government provided the initial 1.9 hectare city property in Barangay Ugong as the relocation site.
Responding to the call of the local government, the seed fund was raised with the help of business sector in Valenzuela—Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation, San Miguel Foundation, Inc. pledged P45 Million at P15 Million per year as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility Program to build more than 300 units; MERALCO, through its Corporate Social Responsibility arm, One Meralco Foundation, has partnered with the City Government in providing energy to light the 52-housing buildings; Maynilad for their P13.8 Million pipe-laying project; Bucheon City in South Korea, a sister city of Valenzuela City contributed additional funds for the construction of housing units; among others.
The World Bank noted Disiplina Village as an example of a sustainable multi-partnership model which other LGUs can emulate to effectively realize their slum-upgrading programs.
Onto the National Stage
In 2013, Win returned to the House of Representatives to represent the First District of Valenzuela City once more. During the 16th Congress, he became one of the foremost advocates of genuine education reform. Authoring some of the more notable and relevant bills in Congress including the measure on increasing salaries for teachers and non-teaching school personnel; the Nutri-Skwela Act; the Nanay-Teacher Parenting Program Act; and the Anti-Hazing Act, among others.
And then, of course, he filed in 2015 the original version of the bill that would radically expand access to college education for millions of Filipinos—the House Bill No. 5905, more commonly known as the Free Higher Education Act.
After mounting a successful dark horse candidacy during the May 2016 senatorial elections, the freshman senator from Valenzuela City has proven himself to be a dedicated leader determined to make a real difference on the national stage.
He won a senate seat, riding high on the support of the youth, powered by the promise of free tuition in all state universities and colleges nationwide—Win’s priority as senator. Only a year into his term, his promise became a reality with Republic Act No. 10931, the breakthrough law that grants universal access to quality tertiary education.
As Chairman of the Senate Committees on Energy and Economic Affairs during the 17th Congress, his approach to running both committees has been united by a common theme — empowering consumers. He has steered both committees in a pro-consumer direction, focusing on measures which will foster greater competition within critical industries, boost efficiency of services, and lower the costs shouldered by the general public.
Working at a considerable pace over the past four years, he has successfully steered the passage of pro-consumer legislations that have been signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte. Among the laws he has authored are the Murang Kuryente Act, Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund Act, the Energy Virtual One Stop Shop Act, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, the Philippine Innovation Act, and the Mobile Number Portability Act.
Now in the 18th Congress, Win has applied his bold, hands-on style of leadership as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture. Through the years, Win has placed at the forefront, education as the catalyst for elevating the quality of life of every Filipino by building a global quality education system and making all levels accessible to everyone.