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House eyes more evidence-based policies, inks MOA with Ateneo for research

The House of Representatives on Tuesday vowed to pursue more evidence-based legislation after inking a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Economics and Center for Economic Research and Development.

The pact, titled Evidence-Based Research Project, was signed by House leaders led by Speaker Martin Romualdez and Ateneo president Fr. Roberto Yap, SJ.

“It has been our dream to bring about a smarter House of Representatives, one that is equipped with the means by which we can effectively pursue evidence-based and people-oriented legislation in a timely manner. This morning’s signing of the MOA is an important step in the realization of this dream,” Romualdez said in his speech.

“While the state of national health emergency has passed, many of our people are still feeling the effects of the pandemic and its byproducts on the economy. The global economic prospects in the coming years are not all that bright either. These conditions make it imperative that the decisions we make actually result in improvement in the lives of many, if not all our people,” he added.

The House leader said Ateneo can be of help in achieving the goal not only by providing policy-relevant technical information but also by lending their esteemed voices in the discussion of proposed reforms.

“We need all the help we can get if we are to realize the ambitious goal of our President to lower the poverty rate to a single digit over the next five years,” Romualdez added, referring to his cousin, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

House appropriations panel senior vice chairperson Stella Quimbo backed Romualdez, saying the partnership will maximize the House’s already able think tank Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department.

“The ultimate goal of this project is to promote evidence-based policy. In committee hearings, we find ourselves in our situation when we need more evidence or we need more debate, if only to assure us that it is not a situation of garbage in, garbage out,” Quimbo, a former economics professor in UP Diliman for around two decades, said.

“As lawmakers, we fear that resource persons might be taking us for a ride. At this juncture, Congress needs to establish itself not only as a user of data but a generator of knowledge. Congress needs to be known for its research capacity as well and have a national-level think tank through our partnership with the academe,” she added.

As a former member of the academe, Quimbo lamented that not much of her published research found its way to legislation, a situation that will be addressed by the MOA.

“This will increase the usefulness of the [academe’s] research and give us better insights on what is optimal given all the constraints in our society,” she said.

“As lawmakers, we have to deeply consider empirical evidence and strike a balance among competing interests among stakeholders and affected population. It is a constant trade off, and our partnership with the academe will help us optimize such trade offs,” she added.—AOL, GMA Integrated News