Ramon B. Revilla
Born Jose Acuna Bautista in Imus, Cavite Senator Ramon Revilla experienced an otherwise ordinary childhood until after his completion of a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce at the Far Eastern University.
He then devoted seven years of unblemished government service at the Customs Bureau as Sr. Intelligence Officer with the rank of Major from 1965-1972 as head of the Secret Service Unit. The precursor of the present Customs Intelligence and Investigation Division, until the lure of the silver screen became too enticing to ignore.
His entry into the glitzy world of showbusiness proved rewarding financially, plus the various citations awarded him for his brilliant portrayals on and off camera as actor, producer, scriptwriter and socio-civic leader made him a big-name in entertainment and social circles.
Some of these awards are the FAMAS Best Actor in 1973 for the movie 'Hulihin Si Tiyagong Akyat'; Box Office King in 1979 and the Most Outstanding Actor of the Year that same year; Outstanding Producer of the Year in 1976; Outstanding Film Production and Socio-civic Leader in 1975.
Clinching the second slot in the 1992 senatorial elections came as a surprise to some but as an eye-opener to the then novice legislator. Three years after, he has become known as the Father of the Public Works Act, a result of his being designated chair of the Senate Public Works Committee and his authorship of Republic Act 8150 which was signed into law by President Fidel V. Ramos on September 8, 1995.
This program is expected to trigger huge spendings that would pump prime the Philippine economy. It identifies the infrastructure projects to be pursued all over the country, including remote and less developed barangays. According to the World Bank the country needs between $40 to $50 billion in infrastructure investments to sustain economic development, attract foreign investments and enable the Philippines to catch up with its more economically aggressive neighbors.
The infrastructure projects are deemed important to support the movement of goods and services in and out of the country. Such movement is a necessary prerequisite for the nation to become a newly industrialized economy as envisioned by the Ramos and Estrada administrations, an objective similarly adopted by the present Gloria M. Arroyo government.
The program also known as the Public Works and Highways Infrastructure Program Act of 1995, specifies the State's policy on infrastructure development. A state policy is important to put priorities in order and to stop graft. A sharp contrast to previous plans where government policies were not clearly spelled out, exposing infrastructure development to political meddling.
Due to the shock waves of the Asian financial crisis which radiated throughout the region in 1996. Revilla's infrastructure program was not fully funded leaving it only 65% complete until the law lapsed in 1999. Envisioning uniform progress from Luzon's tip to Mindanao's edge, Senator Revilla, on his second and final term as member of the upper chamber, is finalizing a more ambitious medium to long term infrastructure program, touted to be the cornerstone of the country's rise from the effects of the five year economic slump.
Realizing the urgency and impact of this piece of legislation, President Arroyo stamped it 'URGENT' before Congress took its three month break for this year's May elections, ensuring its passage into law before the 11th Congress took its final bow on June 2001. "Progress is meaningless if it is not seen and felt nationwide, from the cities to the remotest barrios and its effects felt and appreciated by the masses," he said.
However, political kinks in the lower House prevented the passage of this vital piece of legislation even as the Senate during one of Congress' special sessions, approved the bill on third and final reading. Senator Revilla hopes to steer the new version of the bill into law before bowing out of public service in 2004, this he said will be his legacy to the Filipino people.
Alarmed by the steady rise of drug-related crimes, the growth of the illegal drugs trade and the looming threat of narco-politics, Senator Revilla introduced an amendment to the present Dangerous Drugs Act (R.A. 6425) by increasing the penalties presently stipulated and plugging the loophole often used by violators to escape harsh penalties thereby making a mockery of the judicial system. His amendment imposes the penalty of life imprisonment to death on drug traffickers, dealers and users regardless of the quantity and purity of illegal drugs confiscated from them.
The present Drugs law which many describe as antiquated, is silent on the issue of Purity, providing a convenient technicality for offenders to take advantage of, claiming they should be given lighter sentences or granted bail since the drugs confiscated are either adulterated or impure.
Some sectors may see this amendment as too harsh but according to the Cavite Solon, without tougher drug laws the drug menace will remain as an insurmountable obstacle to our nation's economic progress and political stability aside from permanently scarring our youth. "Drastic steps must be taken to slice into the root of this progressing threat. Congress must step in and redesign R.A. 6425 and make it a more effective weapon against the illegal drugs trade before it grows too big to eventually control, and earn for our country the notoriety of being Asia's drug paradise," he said.
Simultaneously, Senator Ramon Revilla worked for the advancement of the Philippine Motion Picture Industry and our children's welfare in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Committee on Motion Pictures and Television in the 10th and 11th Congresses.
Notable of these are the public hearings conducted with members of both the public and private sectors involved in the television industry which aims to make current television programs children-friendly. Limiting if not totally eliminating the violent and sex scenes on television specially during hours when children are likely to view them. As a result of these consultations, the Children's Media Act or R.A. 8370 was signed into law by President Ramos on Oct. 28, 1997. Revilla, co-sponsor of the vital measure, saw to it that all television networks devote at least 15% or three hours of their total daily airtime programming to educational shows for children.
This law recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and the influence of broadcast media, specifically television, in molding a child's intellectual, emotional and social well-being. President Ramos's action assures the nation's children of top-quality educational shows while minimizing and hopefully eliminating sex and violence on television during hours when children are most likely to see them. Once instituted, this will aid in the development of our children's awareness and appreciation for our cultural identity, national heritage and social issues that will help them grow to be productive and nationalistic citizens, Sen. Revilla said.
One of the heavily taxed industries in the country today is the movie industry. Aiming to correct this flaw in the system while envisioning the enrichment of our culture through the production of more first rate motion pictures, Senator Revilla filed S.B. 1959 creating the Film Development Board which will be given the power to grant tax rewards in the form of rebates, to movie producers whose films are rated top notch by the Board's committee. Revilla sees this as the impetus needed to revive the slowly dying Philippine movie industry and give the Filipino audience motion pictures with enduring social, cultural and moral values.
June 6, 1997 is a date etched in the milestones of Philippine legislation when President Ramos affixed his signature on Senate bill 1148, principally authored by Revilla, amending and subsequently lowering the penalties imposed on the illegal possession of firearms. Now known as 'The Revilla Law' R.A. 8294 has diminished the terror of Presidential Decree 1866, a remnant of the deposed Marcos regime.
The Senator crafted the law to benefit those imprisoned and persecuted during the Marcos years for their political beliefs and whose incarceration was brought about by the abusive implementation of PD 1866.
Soon to be completed by the Public Works Committee under Senator Revilla's guidance is a Code designed to preserve the interests of government against anomalous and irregular contracts. These contracts include infrastructure agreements and those involving the procurement and sale of government properties. This Code is foreseen to minimize if not eradicate graft and corruption involving government projects.
Possessing an unwavering conviction that life is precious at the moment of conception, and that every child has the right to experience the fullness of life, Senator Revilla is pressing for heavier anti-abortion legislation by raising the penalties presently prescribed for fetal murders.
In deference to the nation's teaching force, he too is pushing for the Public School Teachers Retirement Upgrading Bill providing for automatic promotion and salary/retirement benefits for retiring public tutors and scholarships for their dependents. Giving this benefit to the men and women who offered themselves wholeheartedly to a profession which may never give them fame nor fortune, seems little for a nation which will forever be grateful for their selfless sacrifice, the solon said in explaining the urgency of this particular measure.
As former chairman of the Senate Public Information and Mass Media Committee, the 'gentleman from Cavite' formulated the 'Media Security Bill' which imposes additional penalties on individuals who willingly curtail or stiffle press freedom. A salient provision of this bill is the imposition of additional penalties, aside from those already prescribed in the Revised Penal Code, to those who threaten, coerce, inflict harm or injury or kill any bona fide member of media in the performance of his duty.
In recognition of the athletes who through sheer guts and hardwork have given the country fame and glory, Sen. Revilla's proposal (SB 877) was signed into law during the last days of the 11th Congress by President Arroyo, giving sportsmen who have distinguished themselves in international sporting events and have won championships, a lifetime monthly pension. A small token, he says, from countrymen who will forever be proud of their accomplishments.
He also steered the creation of additional engineering districts in remote areas in fulfillment of his objective to make infrastructure work for the benefit of every Filipino regardless of ideology or political persuasion.
The remaining years of his term as Senator would be devoted on overseeing the developments and results of the Public Works Act which he deems as his legacy to the Filipino people for their belief and unwavering support, and by the end of his term, expects to hand them additional legislation which would benefit the majority and not the privileged few.
For the 12th Congress, the gentleman from Cavite has filed bills and resolutions directly responding to the problems gnawing at our nation's march towards progress, inspired by his desire to live up to his creed that, "it is not enough that the Filipino people are served, but they must be served well."
His work as a member of the Senate was recognized by his alma mater the Far Eastern University, when he was unanimously chosen as outstanding alumnus in the field of public service, specifically legislation in 1997.