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Rep. Karlo Nograles
Back to Basics


First Things First
Rep. Karlo Nograles discusses the challenges of governance and legislation, and why, when it comes to sustaining the growth of our country, we must first focus on providing the basics



1. As recipient of the Golden Globe Awards for Excellence in Public Service in 2015 and 2016, and awardee of Outstanding Congressman Award in 2012 and 2015, what are the achievements you are most proud of?

I am most proud of our Oplan Kaalam scholarship program. I began this scholarship program when I was Chief of Staff to my father, the former Speaker Prospero Nograles. We began in 2001 with just 41 scholars from poor families; to date we have graduated some 5,600 scholars with around 28,000 students
benefiting from the scholarship. What began as a small project to give tuition assistance to some students became one full fledged scholarship program for students at the University of Southeastern Philippines. Eventually, we were able to include the University of the Philippines-Mindanao campus and private colleges and universities in Davao City. It is one of the biggest congressional scholarship programs in the country.

2. What programs/projects/house bills are you working on now, which has you excited to
share with the public?

We worked really hard on the Free Higher Education Law (RA 10931), I am very proud of that. It was not easy. But even more difficult was looking for the funds to make sure that the law will be implemented. As Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, the heavy task fell on my shoulders, but we were able to do it despite the obstacles and hurdles and the naysayers. A total of P40 billion have now been set aside in the 2018 budget to ensure the law’s full implementation. With this law, tuition fees and miscellaneous fees will now be free for all college students in all state colleges and universities in the country including our premier university, the University of the Philippines. It will likewise be free for local colleges and universities accredited by CHED and for Technical Vocational Institutions run by TESDA. This law makes education a state priority, recognizing the importance of making higher education a right for all Filipino students.

3. As a lawmaker, what issues/causes are close to your heart?

Education, jobs, livelihood, total human development, environmental protection, and healthcare have always been the causes close to my heart. Most legislation that I author or support center around these themes.

4. Even with the P3.767 trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB), can free tertiary education under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act be sustained?

I am very happy and proud of our accomplishment in making sure we have the funds for this. Yes, free higher education can be sustained. It is the Law and as such, it is incumbent upon government to allocate the necessary funds for its implementation. By ensuring that we are more judicious in the allocation of our resources, making education a funding priority is an investment in our country’s future. It was a challenge for me to locate the funds needed to support the Free Higher Education Law. In the end, I was able
to find items in the budget that were not ready for implementation in 2018 and was able to pool P40 billion that we re-channeled to CHED to implement the Free Higher Education Act. For the 2019 budget and the next budget cycles after that, we will ensure that the funding for Free Higher Education will always be there annually and perpetually.

5. Can you share a bill and/or program that you think has been one of the most successful and which can be easily adopted across the country?

Green Jobs and JobStart are close to my heart. I was the primary author of both bills. I had the privilege of working closely with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) during my term as Chairman of the Committee on Labor, and both Green Jobs and JobStart are laws that the country really needs.

6. What do you think is the greatest threat to the government now or our greatest hindrance to progress? What is needed to bring about greater change?

I believe the greatest threat to our government is the constant attempt at discrediting the efforts of our President. We all need to come together and unite to achieve the progress we deserve. Finding ways to destabilize the seated government and efforts to discredit the work we do or politicking is a disservice to our country.

7. What’s a misconception/misunderstanding people have about the current administration?

Our President is unorthodox, but that does not mean he will not deliver. Some people have this misconception that the current administration is only concerned with eradicating illegal drugs and criminality. While these are two objectives that the President is particularly bent on accomplishing, there are many other various areas of concern that the current administration is addressing. Growing the economy faster, lifting the people out of poverty, bringing development to the countryside, addressing the people’s basic needs, providing jobs, better education, and healthcare are just some of the many items under the current administration’s socioeconomic agenda and the Philippine Development Plan that will propel our country and our people to greater heights by year 2022.

8. Describe your leadership style.

I believe in people, I believe in team work. I believe each person has an invaluable purpose no matter how
small the work they do. I believe it is important to share a common ideal, practice the same values, and have passion for what we do. I work with people closely and always try to lead and inspire by example, while also learning from them. It is only when we are able to inspire and learn from each other that we are able to come together and become more effective in the work we do.

9. What’s one of the most meaningful lessons you’ve learned from your father, former House Speaker Prospero Nograles?

My father taught me the value of hard work and helping others. He showed me that we each carry the responsibility of helping others and creating good in the lives of others. He also taught me the importance of family, and that the love and support of family is what we must cherish most in this life.

10. What’s the next step for your political career?

I have dedicated my life to public service. Right now, I’m just concentrating on the responsibilities of my current office and the tasks I need to do. I don’t know where God will lead me next. So I just pray He will allow me to continue being of service to the people.

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