Man on a Mission Senator Sherwin “WIN” Gatchalian
Man on a Mission
“I REALLY BELIEVE THAT IF YOU KEEP ON COMPLAINING, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. YOU JUST HAVE TO DO YOUR SHARE, DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS.”
ALWAYS PART OF THE SOLUTION
BY GODFREY T. DANCEL
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAR CONCENGCO
The LEAGUE team arrives at the Senate building on a cloudy midmorning in October. The place is uncharacteristically quiet. Conspicuously absent are senators and their staff hustling from their offices to the session hall, officials from the executive branch attending hearings, foreign dignitaries paying courtesy visits, reporters trying to get a scoop, and ordinary Filipinos seeking an audience with particular senators.
In a conference room at the second floor, however, a bicameral conference committee meeting is going on. It’s a hybrid meeting, with most participants—congressmen and senators, supported by their staff— participating online from their homes. Such has been the practice since COVID-19 radically changed the way we live, including the way Congress works. One senator, however, is physically present: Senator Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Energy.
Swiftly ironed out during the meeting were some inconsistencies in the House and Senate versions of the Microgrid Systems Act, the Upper Chamber version of which was primarily authored by Senator Win himself. The act is expected to fill the legal and policy gaps that have hampered the government’s total electrification program.
“He’s the only senator who still physically reports to the Senate to hold hearings and meetings [despite Metro Manila being placed under Alert Level 4],” one of Senator Win’s staff members says. “He wants to have instant access to information during hearings.” Ever mindful of the value of time, the senator wants to be able to look at documents and confirm matters with the secretariat whenever the need arises—something he could not do if he were working from home. Clearly, it’s a win-win situation: all stakeholders remain safe from COVID-19 (strict health protocols are also being implemented at the Senate building), and legislative work goes on as it should.
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