By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – All smiles, Teddy Casiño waved his hands before thousands of members of Makabayan Coalition and supporters who flocked to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines gymnasium, Sept. 7.
It was no ordinary day; it was the start of a challenging and arduous journey for Casiño and for Makabayan members. The coalition of progressive party-list groups officially adopted a resolution fielding Casiño as its lone candidate for the 2013 senatorial race.
A third-termer representative of Bayan Muna at the House of Representatives, Casiño accepted the task of “bringing the people’s voice to the Senate.”
Casiño admitted that the battle would not be easy. He did not come from a traditional political family. He does not have a lot of money to spend for elections; he is the third poorest congressman, next to Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino. “I only have my good name and my principles,” Casiño said in his speech in Filipino.
Like the rest of partylist representatives under the Makabayan bloc, Casiño has kept his nose clean. Even House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte and former Congresswoman Cynthia Villar attested to the integrity of Casiño and Makabayan bloc partylist representatives whom they have worked with.
“I am proud that I am not a trapo [traditional politician]. I do not break promises. I do not deceive the public just to get votes and I never use my position to get rich, “Casiño said.
Consistent with the fight against corruption and for transparency in governance, Casiño authored bills such as the Freedom of Information and the Whistleblowers Protection and Rewards.
He authored the Rent Control Act of 2009 (R.A. 9653), which places a cap on rent increases and the Tax Relief Act of 2009 (R.A. 9504), which provides tax exemptions for minimum wage earners. He also filed other bills seeking to protect the interests of consumers such as the Zero VAT for Oil and Power, Mobile Phone Subscribers’ Rights, Students’ Benefits and Entitlements, Regulation of Tuition and Other School Fees.
In the field of human rights, Casiño co-authored the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 (R.A. 9745) that criminalizes the practice of torture in the Philippines.
He also authored the Public Attorneys Act of 2007 (R.A. 9406) with the aim of strengthening the poor’s access to legal services.
Casiño is also consistent with his support for small and medium entrepreneurs. He authored the bill Buy Pinoy, Build Pinoy. He serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development.
He is also a staunch ally of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. He filed the Anti-Discrimination for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons.
Casiño aims to continue his advocacy to the Senate with his three-point platform: low prices, livelihood and good governance. “In concrete terms, this means lowering the VAT [value added tax], scrapping the Oil Deregulation Law and advancing the program ‘Buy Pinoy, Build Pinoy’ so that our economy will flourish. Of course, I will continue to guard against corruption and irregularities.”
15 years in parliament of the streets
Before joining Congress, Teddy was a conscientious activist.
His political involvement started when he volunteered for the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) during the 1986 snap elections. He was a high school student at La Salle Green Hills when he participated in the EDSA People Power uprising.
In college, he was editor-in-chief of Perspective, the student paper of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He graduated with a degree in AB Sociology from UP Los Baños in 1993.
He served as national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), an alliance of tertiary student publications.
After college, Teddy immersed himself in the labor movement under the Kilusang Mayo Uno. He became involved in various social causes as secretary-general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
“We will give the ordinary people a voice in the Senate,” Casiño said. “We will bring the agenda for nationalist change in the Senate.”
Casiño said he relies solely on the support of groups and individuals who believe in the cause of Makabayan. “You are my only wealth,” he told his colleagues and supporters.
The crowd, composed of delegates from regions all over the country, responded with a resounding applause.
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