Erwin Tulfo lists 3 priority bills for vulnerable sectors as new ACT-CIS rep

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — Erwin Tulfo, who returns to a government post as representative of the Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Partylist, said he aims to file three bills that will address the plight of vulnerable sectors in the country.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday, Tulfo said his three priority bills are for solo parents, persons with disabilities and the elderly, and other Filipino indigents — reminiscent to his work at the Social Welfare department.

He is eyeing to file around 120 bills and said he already coordinated with the lawyers of his party-list to research and compare his proposals with existing legislation.

"First and foremost, a review of the Solo Parent Act," the new lawmaker said. "The problem with the Solo Parent Act, 'yong pagbibigay ng allowance na ₱1,000 to solo parents, hindi nabibigay [the ₱1,000 allowance is not being distributed] especially when that solo parent lives in a 5th or 6th class municipality."

"Who will take charge, who will pay 'yong kanyang [their] ₱1,000 na sinasabing monthly allowance from the [local government unit]?" he asked.

Tulfo, during his short stint as the first secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development under the Marcos administration, led the signing of the implementing rules and regulations for the Republic Act (RA) 118611 or the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2021.

He said a panel review must come first before increasing the allowance due to reports some solo parents are not yet receiving the financial subsidy.

"Kung hindi kaya ng LGU, maybe we can ask the government, ask the assistance from the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) para mabigay at matustusan 'yong pangangailangan ng solo parents because it's in the law," he said.

Tulfo added that he plans to propose a bill requiring private companies and government agencies to accept persons with disabilities and senior citizens for employment.

He said he wants 5-10% of their workforce to consist of individuals coming from the two vulnerable sectors.

Under Philippine law, government agencies must reserve at least 1% of all positions to persons with disabilities, while private firms with over 100 employees are encouraged to reserve the same percentage.

"Ironically, as I look around, marami tayong government agencies na dapat example," he said. "Unfortunately, hindi nagagawa 'yon at mga government agencies pa."

[Translation: Ironically, as I look around, many government agencies must serve as examples. Unfortunately, they have yet to fulfill that.]

Tulfo also said he aims to pass into law a bill mandating the national government, through the Commission on Higher Education, to cover the expenses for the first review for licensure exams of students coming from poor families.

"We need that law kasi maraming mga bata na 'yong kanilang mga magulang [because many parents of college graduates] cannot afford to send them to review schools," he said.

Same challenges in assuming government post

Tulfo still faces limitations in his new role as a motion has been filed to reverse the Commission on Elections' dismissal on May 25 of a petition to disqualify him as ACT-CIS representative. 

"It's stressful because nakapagpanumpa na ako [I took the oath] as a member of the House pero [but] I cannot fully function well at this point while waiting for the outcome of the [motion for reconsideration] that a certain Atty. Tolentino filed, " he said during the interview.

The Comelec earlier dismissed the petition due to lack of jurisdiction. Issues raised in the petition were his US citizenship and past libel conviction — the same reasons why he was bypassed twice by the Commission on Appointments as DSWD secretary.

He said he felt bad about not being confirmed as the DSWD chief but it became a "blessing in disguise" to learn about laws needed to be filed.

"Somewhere along the line, God sent me there para [so] I will learn and then I can help," he said.

"Kung secretary ka naman [As a secretary] you can’t do anything, you will just execute what you're supposed to do," he added. "Kung lawmaker ka [But as a lawmaker], you can pass a lot of laws."