The neophytes of the 19th Congress
The National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines is a treasure trove of opportunities for those determined to make their fortune. Because of the area’s prime location as the country’s political, economic, social, cultural, and educational center, the people welcome innovation with open arms to move further into a progressive future.
In the 19th Congress, the House of Representatives welcomed new members of lawmakers who want to make change happen in NCR. Through their open-mindedness and unwavering determination, they set an example of how the Philippines can venture and adapt to globalization.
HON. DEAN ASISTIO
(Caloocan, Third District)
“Since at a young age, I have always been keen to serve the public. My zeal for service and dedication has turned various plans and programs into action; one of which is the delivery of basic social services to my constituents. It is also my mission for the progressive development of the third district of Caloocan, wherein new and improved health centers, science high school, district library, and a drug rehabilitation center is accessible.”
From being the city councilor of Caloocan, Rep. Asistio undoubtedly earned the trust of his constituents, earning him a spot in the 19th Congress as a House Member. Rep. Asistio is also a Batang Kankaloo, which pays homage to the city’s original name before its spelling changed into what Filipinos know today.
Rep. Asistio’s brand of service is hands-on and active. He encourages the members of Caloocan’s local government units to work with him in enacting projects and programs to benefit everyone. The Caloocan representative often checks up on his public. Some of Rep. Asistio’s successful projects include providing free WiFi to his district, distributing provisions and services during People’s Days, and encouraging the youth to have an active lifestyle through his basketball league.
Meanwhile, Rep. Asistio takes his position in the House of Representatives seriously by pushing opportunities for the progress of his constituents. Some of his principally authored bills include establishing a district library in the third legislative district of Caloocan City, creating the public schools of the future in technology, and pushing for a science high school in his jurisdiction.
HON. JUAN CARLOS “ARJO” C. ATAYDE
(Quezon City, First District)
“I believe all of us in the House are motivated by our desire to serve our people. Gusto namin tumulong. We just have different areas of focus, and this is reflected in the legislation we push.”
As one of the youngest lawmakers in the country, it’s no surprise that Rep. Arjo Atayde brings to the House of Representatives a fresh perspective and a data-driven approach—both of which give the freshman legislator a keen understanding of the issues that are close to the heart of his constituents.
According to Rep. Atayde, “I think it’s important to utilize the tools you used in your campaign—research, polling, and other technology—in program development and policy-making. If you want to act effectively, guesswork is a poor basis for governance. You need hard data; sometimes you can get the info straight from your constituents when you spend time with them. Sometimes you may also need to conduct studies or surveys to get the pulse of the district. With both, I am in a better position to serve the families of Distrito Uno.”
Rep. Atayde’s public mantra is “Aksyon Agad,” and this is obvious in both his district and in the halls of Congress. When natural calamities like floods strike QC’s first district, Rep. Atayde is on hand working with barangay officials to ensure that affected families have food and shelter. At the same time, his office in Congress is busy working with national government agencies to find long-term solutions to flooding––a topic he tackled in his first privilege speech in the House.
In the case of the actor-legislator, his advocacies are apparent in measures he has authored that have recently been passed by the House. These include the Eddie Garcia Bill, which seeks to establish a safer working environment for workers of the movie and television industry; the Internet Transaction Act or E-Commerce Law, which aims to improve and regulate online transactions; and the creation of the Philippine Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) Act, which will enable the government to better respond to public health emergencies.
HON. JOEL R. CHUA
(Manila, Third District)
“I was motivated by the people around me. Growing up in Quiapo, I met different kinds of people from all walks of life. Early on, I learned how our government and leaders affect our daily lives. As a Congressman, I hope to be a champion for my district — I want to represent their values and their needs. I also want to present to the world the diverse culture and unparalleled beauty of our District.”
Rep. Joel R. Chua was already an experienced legislator and public servant years before he earned the seat in the House of Representatives. He was for several years and terms the Councilor of the Third District of Manila, the same legislative district he now represents in Congress. Manila residents have long been well aware of Rep. Chua’s compassion and expertise in the law.
As the district’s resident attorney of the people, he is known for the brand of effective and compassionate public service on legal aid and the provision of free medicine, financial aid, and livelihood assistance. Rep. Chua also has community infrastructure programs in the Third District of Manila.
The Manila lawmaker is present and active during crises. He also promotes local arts, culture, and an active lifestyle through sportsfests, pageants, and other events. Rep. Chua also works closely with other members of the LGU to promote public service efficiency.
Some of his contributions to the 19th Congress include proposed legislation declaring the immediate environs of Quiapo Church, Plaza Miranda, San Sebastian Church, and Plaza Del Carmen as a National Heritage Zone. He is also pushing for the regulation of motorcycles-for-hire operations. He has proposed a legislation requiring private higher education institutions to waive the college entrance examination fees to underprivileged graduating high school graduates in the top ten percent of their graduating class.
HON. RICARDO S. CRUZ, jr.
(Taguig City-Pateros, Lone District)
“When I began my journey as a public servant in the district of Taguig-Pateros, I made a solemn commitment to serve with integrity and accountability. My primary objective is to cater to the needs of our fellow constituents and improve their standard of living. One of my main priorities is to spearhead initiatives that generate employment opportunities and ensure equitable access to public medical and financial services. Being indebted for the privilege of representing the district, I am filled with enthusiasm to persist in my endeavors and offer my utmost abilities in serving the people.”
Filipinos living in the Taguig-Pateros district are witnesses to Rep. Cruz’s humble yet practical efforts as a public servant as Rep. Cruz previously served his people for 10 years as their Vice Mayor in the Local Government. He sets an example through respectable and honest work, which he extends to his constituents through relevant life lessons and programs. Rep. Cruz keeps a watchful eye on his jurisdiction. But other than considering his people’s security, he also uses his platform to determine how he can better provide the public’s needs for a better quality of living.
Opportunities for a brighter future and well-being came to the Filipino people through the partnership and cooperation between government agencies by providing projects and programs that aim to equip the public not only with the necessary skills needed in employment but to aid them in their needs medically and/or financially.
On the other hand, Rep. Cruz is the principal author and co-author of numerous bills in the 19th Congress, including creating the health emergency auxiliary reinforcement team under the Department of Health, strengthening the technical, vocational, and livelihood curriculum for the senior high school program, prescribing the use of neo-ethnic Philippine textiles in the academic regalia of all state and local universities and colleges and the establishment of newly created barangays in the district of Taguig-Pateros.
HON. MA. VICTORIA CO-PILAR
(Quezon City, Sixth District)
“Everybody is born with a calling. I believe that this is my life’s purpose. I did not come from a political family. All I have is this untiring heart and passion to serve my country and my city. This drive led me to congress to fight for shelter, education, and health for all Filipinos.”
Through her political background, Rep. Co-Pilar demonstrates how perseverance and credibility are relevant values in being a public servant. She rose from barangay captain to councilor and now to lady lawmaker. Until today, Rep. Co-Pilar recognizes the experiences and lessons that brought her to where she is now. Her motto as a representative is “Marangal na Paglilingkod,” meaning honorable service. And that’s what people can expect from her.
In her district, Rep. Co-Pilar spearheads several projects and programs that cater to the needs and wants of her public. Besides using her platform to distribute goods to students, senior citizens, individuals in crisis, and more, she also utilizes her online presence to share valuable information to help better her public’s lives.
Rep. Co-Pilar extends her thoughtfulness to other Filipinos in and out of her jurisdiction by pushing for bills like establishing Pascual District 6 Hospital of Quezon City in Barangay Baesa, Quezon City, strengthening the National Housing Authority, and creating the Department of Disaster Resilience, among others.
HON. ERNESTO JR. M. DIONISIO
(Manila, First District)
“I am aware of the changes we can implement with good public service and this became my motivation to pursue a political career. Given this, I want to champion disregarding party lines when it comes to delivering basic services in my district.”
Fondly known as Ernix to the public, Rep. Dionisio upholds his family’s legacy of unwavering commitment to public service. But with Rep. Dionisio assuming the position of a lawmaker in the House of Representatives, he brings positive change to his district as they strive to create a “Bagong Tondo.” He’s also known as “The Working Congressman,” who offers one-of-a-kind service to the Filipinos living in Manila’s First District.
Since Tondo is a bustling community, Rep. Dionisio continues to find opportunities to improve people’s lives and solve their daily problems. The lawmaker often works closely with the Manila government and its other units to distribute goods and provisions to those in need. He offers financial aid, medical assistance, and more, proving that he listens to his constituents. Rep. Dionisio also promotes the vibrant culture in his district through parades, contests, and similar programs.
His contributions to the 19th Congress span different sectors and communities, all the while recognizing the welfare of everyone involved. His principally authored bills include defining and protecting elders from abuse, encouraging corporate social responsibility, and mandating all barangay workers to create a registry of skilled workers.
HON. JAIME R. FRESNEDI
(Muntinlupa City, Lone District)
“I wanted to pursue my calling for public service which began twenty-two years ago that’s why I ran for Congress. I have always pursued my life as a public servant as a ‘servant leader.’ I shall only pass this road once and I must do what is good for all. This time, I want to push for, and support proposed policies focusing on education, health, and justice as well as the improvement of our local government units and system.”
Rep. Fresnedi, who also goes by Jimmy in his district, established himself in Muntinlupa as its long-time Mayor. One of his most relevant qualities is his devotion to the city and its people. His life revolves around serving the people with utmost dedication, honesty, and industry among others. Dubbed the “Education Mayor”, several educational institutions were established and the building and maintenance of schools were primary advocacies during his administration. Through his leadership, the city extended scholarship grants to thousands of students from the lowest to the highest educational levels (elementary to post-graduate studies including law and medicine courses). As a consequence, the City scholarship programs served as models adopted by other cities in the country. Aside from free tuition fees, the City of Muntinlupa during Rep. Fresnedi’s term as Mayor likewise granted financial assistance or allowances to qualified and deserving students to ensure the completion of their studies.
He later ran and successfully became a member of the House of Representatives to extend his reach and further assist the people of his lone district. With his years of political experience, Rep. Fresnedi knows and has what it takes to lead Filipinos to a progressive future. He’s also quick to respond to any situation in his district, proving his leadership and dedication to his public.
In the 19th Congress, he is one of the principal authors of the SIM Registration Act and the recently approved New Agrarian Reform Emancipation Act, which is just waiting for the signature of the President.
HON. FRANZ PUMAREN
(Quezon City, Third District)
“Hoping to make a difference in people’s lives led me to public service—to bring about meaningful change by ensuring access to primary services. As elected Representative, I hope to continue my advocacy on crafting social protection measures anchored on the #FirstPriority 4Ps platform: Pangkalusugan, Pampamilya, Paaral at Pangkabuhayan.”
Being a public servant, Rep. Pumaren knows how to prioritize his initiatives. He always puts his constituents’ welfare first and foremost. Rep. Pumaren carefully earned his district’s trust and respect over the years, frequently engaging with them through online posts or face-to-face opportunities. His goal as a leader is to help others grow. He uses his worldliness to inspire his fellow Filipinos to embrace innovativeness in modern society.
Rep. Pumaren, who’s always at the service of the Filipinos, enacts programs and projects that consider what’s best for his district. One of his prerogatives is promoting quality health services for the safety and security of his constituents. Besides that, he also engages in other activities like donation drives, a mobile food truck, and providing alternative livelihoods to sectors in need.
The lawmaker is also active in creating and supporting bills that align with his vision as a leader. Some of his contributions to the 19th Congress include providing free annual medical check-ups for Filipinos, establishing a mandatory evacuation center in every province, city, and municipality in the country, and institutionalizing the sustainability of government-funded sports facilities.
HON. MARVIN D. RILLO
(Quezon City, Fourth District)
“The heart for public service holds a warmth degree for me to take the path of politics. I believe, having the position will make a huge impact and influence to represent the good causes and welfare of the Filipino people.
Through my mandate as the duly elected representative of the 4th Legislative District, I have committed to lead the paramount aspect of the lives of the people I act for, giving them contemporary, sustainable, and inclusive leadership through policies, programs, and measures in health, education, social services, livelihood, and infrastructure.”
As a lawmaker, there’s a level of trust between the incumbent and the public. As the district representative, Rep. Rillo follows the tagline, “Mahal Ang Masa, Mahal Ng Masa.” It fully embodies his passion and dedication as a public servant committed to caring for his public. He’s also leading the charge for a “Makabagong Distrito 4” to set an example of how progressive Filipinos are in accepting change.
Rep. Rillo, who also works closely with the Quezon City LGU to provide his district’s demands, is steadfast in carrying out programs and projects. He’s also attentive in listening to his constituents’ needs, allowing him to become efficient as a public servant. Some of his services include offering financial assistance, school supplies and essentials, and establishing new, relevant and useful infrastructures in his area.
The representative also made several notable additions to the 19th Congress with his principally authored bills, including granting bereavement leave of seven days with full pay to all employees in private and public sectors, creating a tripartite council to address unemployment, underemployment, and the job-skills mismatch problem in the country, and strengthening the special program in creative arts for junior and senior high school.
HON. MARJORIE ANN A. TEODORO
(Marikina City, First District)
“As a former educator, education, health, women’s rights, and senior citizens’ welfare hold a special place in my heart—the exact things that compelled me to enter the world of politics in hopes to make a difference. Aiming for more inclusive laws for them, I prioritize the Expanded Violence Against Women and their Children (E-VAWC Act), and measures that seek to provide free healthcare services, establish specialized geriatric health research centers, and institutionalize social and capacity-building opportunities for public school teachers.”
In Marikina, Rep. Teodoro defines her work as the district representative as continuous support to enhance their quality of life. The lady lawmaker, who also goes by Maan in her district, is well-loved by the public because of her modern ideals that empower every individual from various sectors. Her warm presence also ensures her constituents that she’s always around whenever they need her.
One of her most successful initiatives as a district representative is the Eco-Friendly Mobile Reading Center, which brings books closer to children so they can access quality education and benefit from their studies. She also provided free eyeglasses to students to ease any visual challenge. She also promotes a safe environment for everyone through infrastructure projects, public service announcements, and more.
Rep. Teodoro is also active in the House of Representatives and made relevant principally-authored bills, including defining electronic violence against women and their children, providing protective measures, and prescribing penalties for violations. Her other contributions include establishing the National Filipino Women’s Museum and providing free medical and dental services to indigenous children.
HON. RALPH WENDEL P. TULFO
(Quezon City, Second District)
“Having been nurtured in a family that champions the marginalized and abused, I have been inspired to personally bridge the gap between informal communities and the law. I believe that the right to adequate housing is a fundamental need and a source of comfort for every Filipino, and I intend to see many of my constituents finally have a place to call home.”
New, progressive, and without corruption. Those are the characteristics Rep. Tulfo uses to define his brand of public service. He’s also responsible and genuine as a representative for his district. Rep. Tulfo hopes to bring abundance to his people and celebrate their accomplishments as they move toward modernization. He considers Filipinos’ daily problems, no matter how small, and solves them promptly. People see him as someone they can run to when the need arises.
As a district representative, Rep. Tulfo champions quality health by providing free medical assistance services to his constituents. He also has fruitful collaborations with other government agencies and partylists, one being the Flood Control System accomplished in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). He also raises awareness about underserved communities to bring them better representation.
His hard work extends to the House of Representatives, as he also principally authored several bills in the 19th Congress. Some examples are instituting policies for the protection and welfare of caregivers in their profession, promoting entrepreneurship by establishing a socialized microfinancing program for micro-enterprises through the “Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso Program,” and supporting gender equality and upholding the sanctity of marriage.
HON. PATRICK MICHAEL D. VARGAS
(Quezon City, Fifth District)
“I will pursue where my brother, Alfred Vargas, took off. We aspire to see a brighter and better Novaliches with people happy with their lives because we did what we could to guarantee their health, jobs, and education for their children. We will always stand by our principles of family, excellence, faith, and integrity in whatever we do for the Novaleños and for Quezon City.”
Continuing the legacy of his brother, former Rep. Alfred Vargas, PM treats his constituents as family. He stays true to the Vargas’ brand of public service by tirelessly showing how his constituents can count on him at any given time. His leadership is consultative and very hands-on.
Known as the District V’s #goodPM, Rep. Vargas denotes kindness to his people as seen in his frequent visits, and is always on the field to see things through. His programs address the public’s need to get back on their feet much so after the pandemic, whether for medical, educational, or means of livelihood.
Rep. Vargas’ approachable nature made him a friend and ally to the community, particularly to the sectors of senior citizens, youth, women, and many others. He also serves as the Chairman of the Red Cross Novaliches Branch.
In the 19th Congress, he made a number of contributions to nation-building through principally authored bills, including enhanced protection and benefits for media workers, special allowances to persons with disabilities, Christmas bonuses for the elderly, financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs, and several other high impact bills and resolutions. Despite being a neophyte lawmaker, Rep. Vargas always makes it to the top five in terms of legislative performance with an excellent average of being a congressman with most bills passed on Third Reading as of the first quarter of 2023.
HON. AMPARO MARIA J. ZAMORA
(Taguig City, Lone District)
“Having been exposed to Public Service through my father, Rep. Ronny Zamora, it felt very natural for me to likewise offer my talents to the electorate. Despite being a neophyte, I am unwavering on my initiatives on both policies and programs that directly impact Taguigeños while also championing health, education, and women empowerment.”
The lady lawmaker, fondly called Pammy, is a prime example of an independent, empowered female leader. She is not afraid to take on responsibilities as a District Representative and to push boundaries for better service to her constituents in the Second District of Taguig.
Despite being a neophyte legislator, Rep. Zamora is not new in the public arena. She has long been serving the City of Taguig as a Councilor for three consecutive terms. She is well-loved by her district for her assuring presence and continuous efforts to make daily services accessible. Ever since her Council days, Rep. Zamora has always been an advocate for health and women empowerment, among others.
As a District Representative, she is focused on delivering programs and services that are of direct impact to her constituents. She offers various assistance programs for her constituents such as medical and financial assistance, livelihood programs, and vocational scholarships.
As an Assistant Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Zamora actively participates in plenary discussions and is committed to passing legislations geared toward the country’s progressive future to improve the quality of life of every Filipino.
HON. YSABEL MARIA J. ZAMORA
(San Juan City, Lone District)
“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to continue our family’s tradition of public service. I continue to provide modern infrastructure, affordable housing, effective healthcare, the promotion of education and job generation commenced during my dad’s term. I provide free legal assistance through the conduct of personal consultations and plan to hold legal aid clinics. I recognize that there are disadvantaged sectors, and join in legislation to remove inequalities in our laws and support efforts to support women in crisis, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.”
As the first congresswoman of the district, a lot is riding on Rep. Zamora’s shoulders. Rep. Zamora, or Atty. Bel, as she is known by her constituents, is not afraid of the mantle of responsibility thrust upon her. While a novice in Congress, Rep. Zamora brings with her almost fifteen years of experience as a law practitioner, having handled a variety of cases before different courts and quasi-judicial bodies. Thus, she has seen up close the difficulties ordinary citizens experience when faced with legal proceedings. Rep. Zamora wishes to make the law and the administration of justice more accessible to her constituents and remove the inequalities she has seen in the application of our laws. She feels that this will bring positive results that benefit the residents of San Juan City. She uses her online platform wisely to disseminate valuable information and demonstrate her transparency as a public servant.
Rep. Zamora very closely works with the local government of San Juan City as well as with other government agencies to offer various services to her constituents, such as financial, medical, educational, and burial assistance. Rep. Zamora spearheads other significant projects and programs, such as infrastructure and championing the rights of various communities.
Rep. Zamora’s efforts are also evident in her early initiatives in the 19th Congress. These include providing for the right of married women to retain their maiden names, instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, supporting early voting for qualified senior citizens, persons with disabilities, lawyers, and health workers in national and local elections, TESDA scholarships for rehabilitated drug dependents, strengthening of the technical, vocational, and livelihood components of the Senior High School curriculum, establishing a sustainable financing program for micro and small enterprises, and expansion of the Court system in cities and provinces, including San Juan City.