LAOAG CITY—In his first term, Rep. Eugenio Angelo Marcos-Barba—or popularly known as AMB—authored and co-authored 535 bills and resolutions.

Barba’s legislative agenda focused on the promotion of agriculture, education, youth and sports, public health, service delivery, public order and safety, transportation, environmental protection, and local governance.

Of the 535 legislative measures Cong. AMB principally authored and co-authored, 28 bills have been enacted into law.

Local measures

FOR his constituents, Barba filed local measures that would improve service delivery in the province; the promotion of Ilocano culture and tradition, eco and local tourism, local sports development and sports tourism, and local agriculture development.

House Bill No. 5950 is a measure seeking to establish a TESDA Training and Assessment Center in Ilocos Norte. By establishing a TESDA training and assessment center, students and residents from low-income families and out-of-school youths, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples in the province will have an opportunity to learn, showcase, or enhance their skills and become productive, self-reliant and competitive workers and citizens of the country.

House Bill No. 5950, as substituted by House Bill No. 7338, was approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives on Sept. 2, 2020.

The congressman also pushed for the establishment of a Provincial Office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in the province through House Bill No. 5765, as substituted by House Bill No. 7018, which seeks to provide students and their parents easy access to programs and services of CHED, particularly in following up applications for student financial assistance and grants, scholarships, securing eligibility and documents for employment purposes, and other educational concerns. This bill was likewise approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.

To end the confusion between Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMSU) in La Union and MMSU in the City of Batac, particularly in the academe, which treats both universities as one and the same, Barba filed House Bill No. 4415, as substituted by House Bill No. 5698, renaming the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) as Ferdinand E. Marcos State University (FEMSU). This bill was approved on third and final reading in the House of Representative on Dec. 17, 2019.

The Province of Ilocos Norte annually celebrates President Ferdinand E. Marcos’ Birthday with various activities and have always dedicated a whole day to commemorate his life, works, remarkable achievements, and contributions to local and national development as a war veteran, a legislator, a former President, and most importantly, as an Ilocano. Thus, for the people of Ilocos Norte and the commitment to continue this legacy, Barba filed House Bill No. 2218 which seeks to declare September 11 of every year a special non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte in commemoration of the birth anniversary of former president to be known as “Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day”. This measure was approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading.

As a tribute to the greatest Filipino painter of all time, Juan Luna, Barba likewise filed House Bill No. 6626, to declare October 23 of every year a special nonworking holiday in the Municipality of Badoc, Ilocos Norte to be known as “Juan Luna Day” in celebration of the life, works of art, and heroism of Juan N. Luna.

To boost local tourism, he proposed, in House Bill No. 6625, the declaration of “Parasio Ti Caribquib” in Banna, Ilocos Norte as a tourist destination so as to ensure development, preservation, and conservation through appropriate funding and proper implementation of development programs. House Bill No. 6625, as substituted by House Bill No. 10532, was approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading on Dec. 13, 2021.

In promoting ecotourism and environment protection, the first-term lawmaker sought the declaration of Paoay Lake National Park as a “protected area” under the category Protected Landscape in House Bill No. 9193. It seeks the conservation, protection, and preservation of a national park such as the PLNP in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the “National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992” as amended by Republic Act No. 11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018.

The proposed measure also mandates the formulation of a management plan that shall promote the adoption and implementation of innovative management techniques including, when necessary, zoning, buffer zone management, habitat conservation and rehabilitation, diversity management, community organizing and development, socio-economic and scientific researches, site-specific policy development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk reduction and management, waste sewerage and septic tank management, and gender and development among others.

To support local sports development, Barba filed House Bill No. 9062, which seeks to establish the Ilocos Norte Sports Institute and Research (INSPIRe) in the Province of Ilocos Norte. which shall be constituted as an exclusive educational facility for special program for sports, sports tract, and primary and indigenous sports development and training center as well as a research center for sports medicine and nutrition for athletes.

Through INSPIRe, the Ilocano youth shall have an enhanced secondary education program with a curriculum specially designed for student-athletes. The health and nutrition of athletes are also given primary importance as this sports academy includes a research center devoted to sports medicine and nutrition of athletes. These programs will therefore provide a holistic quality education and allow our student-athletes to excel in sports, compete in local and international sports competitions, and eventually pursue their chosen career or profession. Finally, student-athletes will gain access to world class sports facilities which are at par with international standards

As a mark of respect to local farmers who made Ilocos Norte the biggest producer of garlic in the country, Barba filed House Bill No. 8109 seeking to declare the Province of Ilocos Norte as the “Garlic Capital” of the Philippines. This declaration will not only serve as an inspiration to boost garlic production in the country, but also ensure competitiveness in both domestic and foreign markets.

Republic Acts

AS a member of the Committee on Appropriations, Cong. AMB actively participated in the budget briefings and deliberations of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2020, 2021, and 2022, Republic Act Nos. 11465, 11518, and 11639, respectively. The GAA appropriates funds for the operation of the government of the Republic of the Philippines in a fiscal year. Cong. AMB also supported the modification of the salary schedule of civilian government personnel through the enactment of Republic Act No. 11466. This Act recognizes the public service rendered by the country’s civil servants and grants them additional benefits.

To ensure efficient delivery of healthcare services, Barba co-authored House Bill No. 1140, which later became Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Program Act Enacted on Dec. 3, 2019, this Act finally institutionalized the Malasakit Center Program and serves as the one-stop-shop for medical and financial assistance especially to indigent patients and their families in all DOH-retained hospitals.

As a Filipino athlete himself, Barba knows the value of sports development in nation-building. Hence, his tremendous support for the passage of the National Academy of Sports System. On June 9, 2020, Republic Act No. 11470, establishing the National Academy of Sports System, was enacted into law. This Act aims to develop the athletic skills and talents of Filipino youth.

Barba, as one of the principal authors and vice chairperson of the Committee on Local Government, responded to the call of barangay officials and members of the Sangguniang Kabataan with the enactment of Republic Act No. 11462, postponing the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections and allowing the present elected officials to continue implementing their policies and programs until their successor shall have been duly elected and qualified.

National Measures

BARBA also filed several timely national measures in the field of agriculture, public health, science and technology, education, sports development, environment and transportation.

For the promotion of agriculture, particularly among the youth, he filed House Bill No. 5280 which seeks to establish a “Young Farmers Challenge Program”. This program recognizes the value of the youth in nation-building. It seeks to engage young farmers in policy formulation and implementation and ensure government support for agri-business and agri-entrepreneurship. This would encourage the youth to pursue a career in agriculture and give farm workers a reason to stay in this field.

Barba headed the technical working group tasked to discuss and consolidate bills relating to the Young Farmers Challenge Program. The bills consolidated and deliberated upon became House Bill No. 9575, which established the Young Farmers and Fisherfolks program. This bill was approved by the House of Representatives on Third and Final Reading on August 24, 2021.

In recognition of the challenges of profitability in the agriculture sector, Cong. AMB proposed a legislation, House Bill No. 6745, to authorize the Department of Agriculture (DA) to regulate farm gate prices of agricultural produce, livestock, fisheries, and aquaculture products to ensure that farmers, growers, fisherfolk, and all those responsible for raising, catching, or growing our food are assured of just share of the fruits of their labor. This measure also seeks to strengthen the market linkages program of the DA to ensure that the farmers, fisherfolk, livestock raisers and other members of the food producing sector have an outlet for their products. 

The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) did not stop Barba from pushing his legislative advocacies. During the ECQ, he filed House Bill No. 6624 seeking to create a National Health Strategy that would provide for an integrated policy coordination and strategic direction with respect to all matters relating to national public health and medical preparedness as well as execution and deployment of national response before, during, and immediately after public health emergencies. This proposed measure was consolidated with similar bills and substituted by House Bill No. 9561, establishing the Philippine Health Security Council, which was approved on Third and Final Reading by the House of Representatives on September 6, 2021.

House Bill No. 6670, on the other hand, seeks to mandate the establishment of isolation and quarantine facilities such as building, wing, or ward in all government hospitals to prevent the spread of contagious and highly contagious diseases or emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The establishment of these facilities will strengthen preparedness and response capabilities of government hospitals, especially in times of public health emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic. In normal conditions, the said facilities shall be utilized as infectious disease facility or in other instances as may be deemed necessary by the Department of Health (DOH), or upon request by the concerned government hospital.

The proposed measure also seeks to institutionalize the conversion of public buildings into isolation and quarantine facilities to help ease the burden of hospitals and ensure the health and safety of the community during a public health emergency.

To further protect the health of the people, Barba filed House Bill No. 6873 to establish a virology institute that shall focus on research on viruses; development of diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics; international cooperation and network of databases of virus infections; operation of virus genome laboratory; and, operation of virus high containment laboratory dedicated to the study of highly infectious and pathogenic viruses to ensure sustained progress of the country. This bill, as substituted by House Bill No. 9559 was approved on Third and Final Reading by the House of Representatives on July 28, 2021.

In recognition of the importance of science and technology in public health, Cong. AMB filed House Bill No. 8630, which seeks to establish a National College purely offering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses with great emphasis on research and development to train our young people for the task of nation-building. While House Bill No. 8630, as substituted by House Bill No. 10461, was later on treated as a local bill, the measure as originally filed, envisioned an educational institution aimed at pooling the best and brightest minds in the country in order to create a synergistic link between the academe and the industry. The STEM College complements the establishment of the Virology Institute of the Philippines.

To promote the growth and development of sports in the country and protect the youth from the influence of unscrupulous individuals, Barba filed House Bill No. 8870, which seeks to redefine the crime of game-fixing and provide stiffer penalties to ensure the sanctity of fair play, competition, and sportsmanship in Philippine sports.

He has also continued his advocacy for the environment. He filed a House Resolution No. 213 urging the prohibition of single-use plastics in all government offices. In February 2020, the National Solid Waste Management Commission issued a resolution directing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to prepare and implement a ban on the use of unnecessary single-use plastic products by national, local, government-controlled agencies and/or offices. In line with this, he filed House Bill No. 4339 which seeks to gradually phaseout single-use plastics in the Philippines by regulating the production, importation, sale, and use of single-use plastics. Thereafter, the production, sale, distribution, provision or use of single-use plastics shall be prohibited. These measures were consolidated and substituted by House Bill No. 9147, regulating the production, importation, sale, distribution, provision, use, recovery, collection, recycling and disposal of single-use plastic products. The House of Representatives approved the said measure on Third and Final Reading on July 28, 2021.

In the field of transportation, Barba filed House Bill No. 2217, as substituted by House Bill No. 9030, establishing the Philippine Transportation and Safety Board to ensure safety in our transportation system and House Bill No. 2219, which seeks the regulation of motorcycle ride-sharing services to ensure the safety of our commuters. Both measures are currently being deliberated upon in both Houses of Congress.

Through these legislative initiatives, Barba envisions a country with efficient and effective government by the people, for the people and of the people—a government able to provide basic services that uplifts the quality of life and ensure a holistic development of every Filipino, and instill in them the value of discipline and love for country.