𝐔𝐧𝐰𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐀𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧
BY RAGIE MAE TAÑO-ARELLANO
Ipa-Tulfo Mo“ has become a part of Philippine pop culture, uttered by people from all walks of life when someone wants to seek justice because they feel oppressed.
The phrase came from a popular radio and television program titled “ Raffy Tulfo in Action,“ hosted by veteran broadcaster turned Senator Raffy Tulfo. It is a public service program where people seek help in order for their issues, grievances, and complaints to be resolved on air. Tulfo and his team would call in both parties and third-party personalities or government authorities to settle disputes and conflicts live. It gained popularity because people were served justice in the program—minus the hefty legal fees and slow-moving court proceedings.
Admittedly, the show is a source of pride for Quezon City 2nd District Representative Ralph Wendel Tulfo and his sister since it acknowledges their father ‘s work and sacrifices in providing public service to those in need. Tulfo reveals he never dreamed of becoming a congressman, as he was already satisfied in serving the public in his private capacity. After all, he was immensely blessed to be able to impact the lives of the people even before entering politics. However, his mindset changed after witnessing his father, Senator Tulfo, during the latter’s program and his hands-on efforts in serving the people through the ACT-CIS (Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support) Partylist.
Through Congress, Tulfo believes that he can carry out his vision of responding to the needs of the people, particularly the poor. More than once, he interacted with people seeking help through his father‘s program. Although the Tulfo program provides assistance to those who come from vulnerable sectors or have less in life, it also serves as a means of exposing the cracks in the processes of our government.
“People felt the need to come to Raffy Tulfo in Action to seek help and assistance from the injustices they experience. That is what aches me the most,“ he underscores.
He takes satisfaction in having been brought up with the belief that helping others is a privilege rather than a burden; which is why the duties of his office come naturally. “I don’t consider public service to be mentally and emotionally taxing; rather, it is purposeful and revitalizing,“ Tulfo says, adding that he even uses personal funds to pay for some of the programs he runs in his district because he thinks that helping those who are less fortunate in life is more important than anything else.
However, Tulfo also notes that he had been providing assistance out of his own pocket since he began earning money, even before he was elected to the House of Representatives.
Tulfo envisions a future in which people will no longer rely on “Tulfo Justice,“ and this will be a thing of the past, as the government system for helping and delivering justice will become more effective. As a congressman, the 26-year-old Tulfo believes he can assist in resolving issues and deficiencies within the various government systems: “Having the means to assist them and act on the injustice they have experienced is a privilege; hence, we are blessed to become vessels of giving what is due them.“
Many Filipinos have benefited from Senator Tulfo‘s program, as evidenced by his YouTube channel. Congressman Tulfo asserts that they have contributed to a number of memorable events. But he will never forget the time, during one of his campaign sorties, when a stranger came up to the crowd and announced that the Tulfo family had helped him tremendously. “I was taken aback at the number of the people we have reached,“ the young solon shares.
Currently, there are four Tulfos in government service, but the congressman remains unaffected by the common negative perception of political families or dynasties. He values people›s freedom of expression, stating that dissent and opposition are part of democracy›s beauty. And he takes no offense at people›s negative perceptions of political dynasties because effective management and leadership are based on
performance, not family names.
While being a Tulfo may have played a significant role in his victory, his platform of transparency and good governance enabled him to win against a ruling political dynasty, which is a great accomplishment considering it was his first time getting involved in politics.“ It is with immense pride and gratitude that I offer the best years of my life to my constituents in the 2nd District of Quezon City,“ the young representative affirms.
According to Tulfo, having three more incumbent legislators in the family is beneficial because it makes actual work more familiar and keeps him grounded because his father, mother, and uncle are his biggest supporters and critics, and they push him to create better policies and programs. His mother, Jocelyn,
and his uncle, former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Erwin Tulfo, are both ACT-CIS Partylist representatives. ACT-CIS topped the partylist race in the 2023 elections, giving them three congressional seats. Ex- DSWD Secretary Tulfo was not one of the three original ACTCIS
nominees but later on replaced a nominee who resigned in February 2023. ACT-CIS earned 2.1 million votes, or 5.7 percent of the total votes cast for the partylist polls.
The young Tulfo states that his uncle and father have had a significant impact on him and that they were the inspiration for his pursuit of a degree in media and communications. They are both his mentors in performing his duties as a representative with their experiences as long-time public servants.
According to him, his mother, who is also vice president of the Association of Women Legislators Foundation, champions women through policies and social work. The fact that his mother is a congresswoman also allows them to talk about and coordinate their efforts to support women‘s causes and needs. He states that his position in Congress is also a means for him to honor his mother because it enables him to support her goals and advocacies.
He is still uncertain about whether he intends to someday serve in the Senate like his father. In the Senate election of 2023, Senator Tulfo finished third. Congressman Tulfo wants to prioritize serving his constituents for now.
𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐓𝐔𝐋𝐅𝐎 𝐏𝐑𝐎𝐆𝐑𝐀𝐌𝐒
Prior to running for public office, Tulfo cited a number of issues that needed to be addressed. However, he highlights three issues that he believes should be prioritized in the second district. First is the lack of suitable housing for his impoverished constituents; second is the unavailability and inaccessibility of healthcare programs; and third is the inadequate family income caused by unemployment.
He acknowledges, however, that as a political novice entering just his second year as a lawmaker, he and his staff are taking everything one step at a time, explaining: “There is a need to painstakingly assess and evaluate the extent of these major issues and coordinate with relevant stakeholders in addressing them.“ By maximizing his resources as a representative and carrying out dialogues with various stakeholders, Tulfo believes that changes can be done.
He has filed a number of bills, but three of them are particularly dear to him because he believes they are crucial to improving the living conditions of Filipinos who do not have the means to acquire adequate housing. These are House Bill (HB) No. 5, which seeks to establish an on-site, in-city, nearcity, or off-city resettlement program for families of informal settlers; HB No. 6715, otherwise known as the Sustainable
Cities and Communities Bill; and HB No. 7706, which seeks to strengthen the right of the government to expropriate lands for socialized housing.
Tulfo is the vice chairperson of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development at present. In order to prioritize housing issues, he is in constant communication and conducts consultations with different homeowner associations and community organizations in the second district. In addition, he coordinates with the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development (DHSUD) regarding
housing issues, particularly for residents in danger zones, as well as programs and policies that will benefit the informal sector. Furthermore, his office collaborates with the National Housing Authority (NHA) to expedite the issuance of titles for the individualization of 1,700 families in Barangay Batasan Hills.
Tulfo established satellite offices in each of the five barangays in Quezon City’s 2nd congressional district so that his office‘s services would be accessible to his constituents. With the assistance of and coordination with other government agencies, their office offers social services to his constituents,
including medical, burial, legal, educational, and even temporary employment, internship, and scholarship opportunities. Residents are encouraged to submit their requirements for evaluation at the barangay auxiliary offices. Barangays under the 2nd district are Bagong Silangan, Batasan Hills, Commonwealth,
Holy Spirit, and Payatas.
𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐓𝐔𝐋𝐅𝐎 𝐈𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐑𝐄𝐒𝐓
Congressman Tulfo is one of the nation‘s youngest incumbent representatives, having just turned 27. He states that he and other young congressmen have developed an amicable connection through their close collaboration and sharing of initiatives and best practices.
“We talk about mutual aspirations as well. It has been meaningful and productive working with them,“ says Tulfo of his relationship with other young legislators. They not only exchange ideas, but they also learn from seasoned congressmen in their midst.
But while Tulfo appreciates being surrounded by brilliant minds in Congress, he says he also makes time to be with the constituents he has vowed to serve. Friday is “People‘s Day“ in his district, and he never misses it. LEAGUE was fortunate to join him for a day, witnessing several of his usual events. One took place in his office, where he distributed letters of guarantee to medical assistance recipients, as well as medical, dental, and optical services.
“Being with them in our activities on the ground, I am even more motivated to work. It is truly great to accomplish things and help out in my youth, and I intend to reach out to a multitude for years to come,” Tulfo ends.