So You Want to Contact Your Representative

So you’d like to ask your district representative and our senators to say NO to considering kids potential criminals, restoring the death penalty, and reversing the Sin Tax Law, among other issues. Well, it’s time to remind our lawmakers to listen to the people they’re supposed to be representing. Here’s how to get in touch:

If you’d like to use social media:

Paolo Chikiamco posted a guide to finding your representatives here. If you need some help with what to say, you can modify the scripts in the “Call Your Representatives” section below.

You can also send emails or letters.

For writing against the death penalty bill: The International Drug Policy Consortium has a form letter that you can use – click here.

(I’m working on templates for letters against lowering the age of criminal responsibility and reversing the Sin Tax Law. Will update the post with links once those are done.)

You can call your representatives!

I know this sounds like a scary or nerve-wracking option, but it’s not as difficult as it sounds! Plus, a phone call is harder to ignore than a Facebook message, email, or letter. If you feel up to the task, here’s what you’ve got to do:

  1. Look up your local representative’s contact details.

This is a list of the current members of Congress. This is what you’ll see when you click that link:

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You can sort alphabetically, by region/district, and so on.

Clicking on a name will show you that representative’s contact details:

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You can also send letters to their offices!

Meanwhile, here is a list of the current members of the Senate, along with their offices’ contact details. Proposed bills need to pass through the Senate before being passed into law, so it helps to contact our senators, too.

2. Call them up!

Worried about what to say? Here are some scripts to guide you:

For calling against the death penalty bill:

Good morning/afternoon!

I am (name), a resident of (area), and I’m calling to ask (Senator/Representative) to say NO to the proposed bill to reinstate the death penalty. There is no solid scientific evidence that this measure will have a deterrent effect on crime, and with our flawed justice system, the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens will be hit hardest.

Please ask (Senator/Representative) to denounce the reinstatement of the death penalty and say no to this bill when it comes before the plenary.

Thank you.

If you know your representative has a track record of opposing similar measures, you can say:

Good morning/afternoon!

I am (name), a resident of (area) concerned about House Bill No. 1 calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty. (Senator/Representative) has worked to uphold the principles of justice and human rights before, and we need (his/her/their) help again. I’m calling to express my support for (Senator/Representative), and to ask (him/her/them) to keep fighting for our citizen’s dignity and human rights.

Please ask (Senator/Representative) to denounce the reinstatement of the death penalty and say no to this bill when it comes before the plenary.

Thank you.

To speak out against lowering the age of criminal responsibility, you can say:

Good morning/afternoon!

I am (name), a resident of (area), and I’m calling to ask (Senator/Representative) to say NO to the proposed bill to lower the age of criminal responsibility. Allowing children as young as 9 years old to be considered criminals will not lower our country’s crime rate. Instead, it will subject young children to harsh punishment and prison conditions, and leave them even more vulnerable to neglect or abuse.

Please ask (Senator/Representative) to speak out against the proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility and say no to this bill when it comes before the plenary.

Thank you.

To ask your representative to oppose the reversal of the Sin Tax Law, you can say:

Good morning/afternoon!

I am (name), a resident of (area), and I’m calling to ask (Senator/Representative) to say NO to the changes to the Sin Tax Law. Since its implementation in 2012, our current Sin Tax Law has helped fund expanded rural health care programs, curb the incidence of smoking in our country, and boost government sin tax revenues. Institutions like the World Bank have praised the Sin Tax Law as a model for transparent and effective sin tax measures.

Please ask (Senator/Representative) to fight for our health and the welfare of our tobacco farmers by saying no to this bill when it comes before the plenary. Instead, please consider supporting Cong. Joey Salceda’s bill for a P40 unitary tax.

Thank you.

If they’ve got a track record of being pro-health/pro-finance and/or supporting the Sin Tax Law, you can say:

Good morning/afternoon!

I am (name), a resident of (area) concerned about Congressman Dakila Cua’s tobacco taxation bill. I’d like to thank (Senator/Representative) for supporting pro-health/pro-finance bills, and ask for their continued support. The existing Sin Tax Law has already done a lot to improve the health and livelihood of Filipinos.

Please ask (Senator/Representative) to say no to Congressman Cua’s taxation bill and consider supporting Congressman Joey Salceda’s proposal for a P40 unitary tax instead.

Thank you.

Whom should you try to reach?

Of course, there’s your local representative, as well as any other representatives and senators you want to contact. Aside from them, though, here are some key figures to get in touch with:

For the death penalty bill: House Justice Committee

Committee Office:

3/F RVM Building, House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telephone no. 9315001 local 7160
Telefax no. 9513027
Committee Secretary: Atty. Narcisa H. Guevarra

I’ve also looked up the voting history for the 2006 bill that abolished the death penalty. (HB04826 from the 13th Congress, if you want to search for it through Congress’ LEGIS records) This being the Philippines, many of the representatives who voted to abolish the death penalty are still in Congress – or have been succeeded by people who are presumably their relatives. Let’s hold them to their 2006 votes (or their relative’s vote) and ask them to oppose the death penalty once again.

For the Sin Tax Law reversal: House Ways and Means Committee

Committee Office:
Basement, Northwing Building, House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telephone no. 9315001 local 7643/7633
Telefax no. 9314955

Reminders and Tips

  1. Always be polite and respectful. I understand we’ve all got strong feelings about these bills – why else would we pour all this effort into opposing them? – but chances are we’ll be talking to a staff member or secretary. Let’s not take our emotions out on them.
  2. Be clear and concise. We want to let our representatives know our thoughts, yes, but more importantly: we want to tell them what votes/actions we think they can take to best represent us. Don’t muddle up communications. State what you’re contacting them for, briefly explain your reasons for reaching out, and then let them know what you’d like them to do.
  3. Don’t expect to get through on the first try. It might take a few calls to even get a chance to talk to someone, or you might not get an immediate response to your email/PM/letter. Keep trying. But once you do get through, don’t flood them. They’ve taken note of your message; now give other people a chance to get through, and maybe wait a day or two before you follow up.
  4. Consider coordinating with friends. Maybe get together for a few hours and email representatives or send messages to different senators. Set a day when everyone you know will call in. We’re not going to spam them, but having a succession of different people contacting them about an issue will leave an impression.
Representatives are not meant to lord over constituents or to impose detrimental policies on us. They’re there to be our voices and craft laws that will benefit our communities and our country. Reaching out is one way to remind them of that duty. Let’s go, friends!
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