Recto, Ralph Gonzalez
At the House of Representatives
He holds the distinction of being the youngest elected member of the House of Representatives during the 9th Congress. He also holds an unprecedented record in the congressional election history of Batangas for winning in all precincts, barangays, municipalities, together with Lipa City in the 1995 and 1998 elections. He garnered 98% of the votes cast in those two elections in the 4th District of Batangas.
During his three terms (from 1992 to 2001) as Member of the House of Representatives, his legislative measures enacted into law mostly dealt with economic reforms and poverty alleviation. Among which are the Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act; the Philippine Economic Zone Law; Amendment to the Special Economic Zone Law; the Retail Trade Liberalization Law; Regional Headquarters Law and the Comprehensive Tax Reform Law.
At the Philippine Senate
Senator Recto was elected to the Senate in 2001, becoming the youngest Senator of the 12th Congress at the age of 37. In the Senate, he chaired the Committees on Ways and Means and on Trade and Industry.
Senator Recto learned the nuances of lawmaking as one of the youngest legislators in both Houses of Congress. The diligence he puts into each law that he shepherds continues to draw the respect and admiration from peers including those on the other side of the political fence. The august halls of Congress have heard his resonant voice that all these years remained truthful and logical, yet spirited and candid.
Being the youngest Senator of the 12th Congress has not deterred him from ably steering the powerful Ways and Means committee that has been traditionally assigned to senior Senators. He, likewise, led the unmasking of foreign hands subverting the work of the Senate and other government offices.
A deep sense of equity and fairness defined his balanced handling and scrutiny of tax measures. In all cases, he assigned great value on the peoples’ needs in the face of contending government and industry concerns. He was also identified with warning calls on ballooning budget deficits, public debt and unemployment, among other crucial issues.
He was co-chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committees on the Proper Implementation of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) and on the Official Development Assistance (ODA). Sensitivity to the welfare of government employees also marked his chairing of the Accounts committee dealing with the Senate budget.
During his six-year term as Senator, he was largely responsible for the passage of laws with positive impact to consumers, small entrepreneurs, workers and industry.
After the elections of 2007, Senator Recto joined the board of the Union Bank of the Philippines as an Independent Director.
At the National Economic and Development Authority
On July 23, 2008, he was named as the Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority.
As NEDA chief, Recto helped craft and monitor the government’s Economic Resiliency Plan (ERP), which served as the Philippines’ pump-priming program. The ERP implementation involved the frontloading of government spending during the first half of 2009 and increased spending for social services and infrastructure. Moreover, he proposed a new economic plan for the next year initially dubbed as REAP (Reloading Economic Acceleration Plan) to protect the gains made from the ERP and prepare the country for the anticipated economic rebound. He also set in place a more institutionalized monitoring of global and local events as they affect the Philippine economy.
Recto advocated various development issues such as a transparent oil pricing scheme to protect consumers as well as a greater transparency in government project implementation. He also backed innovations in the green industry and technology in the Philippines and signed a climate change program with the United Nations and the Spanish Government. In addition, Recto pushed for deeper engagements with China and other growth regions such as the Middle East.
During his term as NEDA Director-General, Recto instituted the adoption of value engineering in infrastructure projects to help cut costs, minimize delays and strengthen the ICC process. He introduced an employment odometer for all government projects/initiatives to estimate the number of jobs that can be created.
Senator Recto also advocated the enhancement of the performance review of the Philippine government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) portfolio to help improve the country’s absorptive capacity, speed up the implementation of development programs and projects, and manage for development results.
On August 16, 2009, he resigned as NEDA Director General and Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning, in preparation for another run for the Senate in the 2010 election.
A New Senate Mandate
In the present 15th Congress, Senator Recto chairs the Committees on Ways and Means and on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises. He also co-chairs the Joint Oversight Committee on the Proper Implementation of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) and the Joint Oversight Committee on the Official Development Assistance (ODA). He is vice chairman of the Committee on Public Services and a member of the Commission on Appointments.
HEARTS which is the acronym for Health, Education, Agriculture, Roads, Tourism and Security is the core of Senator Recto’s legislative agenda and advocacy. He believes that reforms in these sectors would have a meaningful impact on the efforts to alleviate the sorry plight of the Filipino people.