De Castro, Manuel Leuterio
June 06, 1940
In 2001, de Castro successfully ran for senator as an independent candidate but campaigned with the opposition. He garnered more than 16 million votes, the highest ever for a senator in the history of Philippine politics at that time.
In his three years at the Senate, de Castro authored 252 bills and resolutions, 140 of which he principally authored. He authored the following significant laws: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Senior Citizens Act, Balikbayan Law, Quarantine Act and Newborn Screening Test Act.
Among the most significant legislations he authored and principally sponsored is the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2002 or RA 9257, which honors senior citizens for their special role in society and to continuously make them productive members of the community. The law expanded the benefits and advantages of senior citizens without qualifying whether or not they earn less than P60,000, which was a prerequisite under the old law. Further, said law ensured for our Senior Citizens the following: availment of employment rights and training programs for those who have reached the compulsory retirement age under existing laws but are still willing and able to continue with their employment; unconstrained access to formal and non-formal education; establishment of a National Health Program for Senior Citizens; setting up of residential care or group home for the aged in every province; recognition of Civil and Political Rights of the Senior Citizens and protection against violation of the same; granting of additional benefits and privileges in the form of discounts, tax exemptions, free medical and dental services; and protection against discrimination.
Realizing the importance of speedy resolution of disputes before contesting parties go to court, VP de Castro filed the Alternative Dispute Resolution (RA 9285) in 2000. RA 9285 sought to relieve the judicial courts of numerous disputes, thus unclogging our court dockets. De Castro had in mind the poor section of our society, those that cannot afford a long and costly trial and thus are usually desperate in their quest for justice.
He also authored the Balikbayan Law in 2002 to grant overseas Filipino workers an additional tax-exempt shopping privilege on purchases of livelihood tools so they can invest their earnings in small and medium scale businesses. The law also provides skills training for the balikbayan and his or her family members to enable them to become economically self-reliant upon their return.
One of the issues he faces during his terms was healthcare, so he founded the Newborn Screening Test Act of 2001 and the Quarantine Act. VP De Castro authored the Newborn Screening Test Act to test infants for potentially devastating and fatal metabolic disorders, namely, congenital hypothyroidism (CH), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), galactosemia (GAL), phenylketonuria (PKU) and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD). This is because any infant could look normal and healthy at first glance; however, detailed screening is necessary to detect early symptoms of the disorders that could result to retardation, in the extreme case death. This law likewise integrates newborn screening into the government’s existing health care delivery system to improve social justice and health awareness, without the people having to pay a cent for such test. On another note, the Quarantine Act seeks to build a strong defense against the killer pneumonia and other similar contagious diseases. He proposed the establishment of Quarantine system and broadening of the authority of quarantine officers while safeguarding the constitutional rights of the person detained.
Further information: Presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
In the 2004 Philippine election, De Castro ran for vice president. He won by a narrow margin over Senator Loren Legarda, but an electoral protest was filed by the latter. The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), dismissed the said protest. He was appointed by President Arroyo as secretary for housing and urban development having been appointed as Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Council (HUDCC). As HUDCC Chair, Vice President De Castro also serves as ex officio Chairman of the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG Fund), the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), the National Housing Authority (NHA), the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) and the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) as well as ex officio Vice Chairman of the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC). He has also been designated as concurrent Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers, as Alternate Chairman of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Head of the Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment, Price Monitoring Czar and Cabinet Officer for Regional DevelopmPalawan).