Month: September 2013

Sen. Bam to Gov’t Agencies: Work Together to Save Children’s Hospital

Senator Bam Aquino has filed a resolution “urging” government agencies “to work collaboratively” to quickly resolve the land ownership issue of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) and “focus on treating children.”

Senate Resolution No. 66 “[expresses] the sense of the Senate urging the appropriate agencies to work collaboratively in the immediate resolution of the issue of ownership of the land currently occupied by the Philippine Children Medical Center with the end view of protecting the basic right of children to health services.”

The PCMC recently faced possible “eviction” by the National Housing Authority (NHA), which currently owns the 3.4-hectare property on which the PCMC stands. According to reports, the PCMC treats over 60,000 patients annually, most of whom are children from poor families.

Sen. Aquino said, “Hindi na dapat pinoproblema ng ating mga government hospitals kung mae-evict sila o hindi. Ang dapat na pinoproblema nila ay ‘yung mga pangangailangan ng mga pasyente. In the case of the PCMC, ang kapakanan ng mga batang tinutulungan nila ang dapat nilang tinututukan.”

“The resolution urges the different agencies to talk and settle the issue already. Hindi talaga maganda na ang isang ahenisya ng gobyerno ay pinapaalis ng isa pang ahensiya ng gobyerno—in this case, ospital pa ng mga bata,” Sen. Aquino reiterated.

The lawmaker also said that he was willing to help push for “long-term solutions” to the land ownership problem of public hospitals and public schools, through Senate hearings or through legislation.

“In the meantime, be assured that there will be no eviction happening to the PCMC,”Sen. Aquino announced.

One Year Deadline for SK Reforms — Sen. Bam

Both houses of Congress have only one year to finalize much-needed reforms in the country’s youth representation system, according to Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

A bicameral conference committee, held on Tuesday morning, approved the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections for one year without holdover. Both houses of Congress also agreed to hold the next polls between Oct. 28, 2014 and February 23, 2015.

“With the postponement, we have a virtual deadline of one year to hold in-depth consultations with our youth constituents, come up with innovative solutions, and agree on the necessary reforms that will make our youth leaders more empowered and effective,” Sen. Aquino said.

“The goal is to pass an SK reform bill and have it enacted into law before October 28, 2014,” the young lawmaker stressed.

According to Sen. Aquino, his office has been consulting with various youth groups and will lead stakeholder consultations on the issue. Earlier, he also talked about “crowdsourcing” SK reform legislation through online and offline channels.

SK Reform Bill

As part of his reform advocacy, the young senator filed Senate Bill No. 1090 or the “Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan (LBK)” Bill, to “overhaul the youth representation system and instill the true spirit of volunteerism on the youth, aside from taking it from clutches of partisan politics.”

The bill replaces the current form of the SK with a body composed of representatives of youth organizations.

The measure also calls for “bottom-up budgeting” and “end-to-end transparency, accountability, good governance, and community youth participation” for all LBK projects.

The senator said the bill is anchored on “the twin beliefs that youth organizations are a potent force in nation-building, and that the power of young Filipinos is strongest when they work with people who share their values and goals, and in an environment of teamwork and collaboration.”

Convergence Needed for Inclusive Growth — Sen. Bam Aquino

At the 2nd Inclusive Business Forum organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), and the Asian Social Enterprise Incubator, Inc. (ASEI) on September 16, 2013, Sen. Bam Aquino challenged government, the private sector, and civil society to work together to promote inclusive growth through Inclusive Business.

Inclusive Business refers to private enterprises whose businesses were designed to address pressing social needs. It takes poor people out of poverty by linking them to larger value chains and giving them access to markets, financing, sustainable livelihood, mentoring and support systems, and other necessary ingredients for development.

According to Markus Dietrich and Armin Bauer of the ADB, “Inclusive Business in the Philippines can be adopted to realize the government’s inclusive growth goals, such as creating more employment for the poor… and providing better services, especially in housing, health, energy and education.”

“One problem in enabling inclusive businesses would be convergence. You have agencies supporting social enterprises and inclusive business practices on their own, but we still need to see these agencies working together,” Sen. Aquino pointed out.

Aquino, a globally awarded social entrepreneur before being elected into the Senate, talked about four major pillars of enabling inclusive growth.

“First, we need to push ease of doing business. It will help not only inclusive business, but also the whole private sector.”

“Second, support for MSMEs—whether it’s through better financing, shared services, and subsidies, to a certain extent.”

“We also need to start implementing laws better,” Sen. Aquino pointed out. “We already have a lot of laws that support MSMEs, but they are not being implemented.”

Aquino also talked about two priority pieces of legislation: the Social Enterprise Bill, and another bill that he will soon file, an Inclusive Business Bill.

“I think the best way to go about legislation is for the practitioners to tell us what the sector needs,” he added.

“We’re sure that our colleagues from the Senate and from Congress will support laws supporting inclusive businesses and social enterprises, but again, the convergence needs to happen.”

The senator likewise cited that “there is a lot of willingness from the private sector to collaborate… but government has to jumpstart the collaboration.”

“It’s best if different agencies are already working with the private sector on pilot programs and learning from that experience, then we institutionalize everything a necessary piece of legislation.”

“The challenge is to get all of the players in place to begin talking to each other and working together,” the lawmaker reiterated.

Improving Agri Incomes should be DA’s Priority — Sen. Bam Aquino

Ensuring that farmers’ incomes improve year on year should be among the priorities of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

This was a point made by Senator Bam Aquino, at Monday’s Senate hearing on the DA’s 2014 budget.

According to the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the average net income of an agricultural household in the Philippines is at least Php61,000 per year or just a little over Php5,000 per month. Some reports say that coconut farmers are among the country’s poorest of the poor, earning an average of only Php23,000 per year.

“We need to make the agricultural sector more attractive, to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the sector,” Sen. Aquino said.  “We need to make sure that as our production levels are rising, our income levels are rising as well.”

The lawmaker likewise proposed that ensuring the improvement of farmers’ annual incomes be a part of the DA’s performance indicators.

He added, “Even if we’re increasing our level of production but our farmers are still earning this level of income, mahihirapan talaga tayo (it’s going to be very hard for us) to achieve our targets.”

“The agricultural sector can make a big difference in our push for inclusive growth, but that means nobody should be left behind as we work to improve our productivity. Hindi puwedeng naiiwan ang mga magsasaka at naghihirap pa rin sila habang umaangat ang ekonomiya ng bansa. Kailangang magkasabay ang pag-akyat ng produksyon sa pag-angat ng mga kita ng mga pamilyang nakasalalay sa agrikultura.”


Violence the Enemy of Progress — Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino condemns the attacks that have been brought upon the people of Zamboanga City, saying that “Violence is not the way forward.”

“We condemn violence in all its forms, and we urge all citizens to reject those who intend to perpetuate violence, fear, and panic in the country.”

“Nothing good ever comes of violence,” he says, quoting a line from reformist Martin Luther.

“Lahat tayo talo kung ipagpatuloy natin ang karahasan,” he adds. “Bagsak ang mga negosyo, bagsakang turismo. Taumbayan ang kawawa.”

“The sooner we can find a peaceful resolution to our issues, the sooner we can push for progress and development for all Filipinos. Peace is the bedrock of inclusive growth—this is the mandate that we ought to pursue for the sake of our people.”

Sen. Bam Kinuha ang Pulso ng Negros Oriental, Siquijor

Nakipagpulong si Sen.Bam Aquino sa mga lokal na lider ng Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental at Siquijor upang kunin ang kanilang pulso at pananaw ukol sa isinusulong niyang mga panukalang batas ukol sa malawakang kaunlaran.

Ginawa ni Sen. Aquino ang pulong kasabay ng pasasalamat sa mga taga-Negros Oriental at Siquijor sa suporta kaya siya nanguna sa bilangan sa mga nasabing lugar noong nakaraang halalan.

Ayon kay Sen. Bam, mahalaga na makonsulta ang lahat ng sektor upang mas maging epektibo at makapagbigayng tamang solusyon ang kanyang mga panukalang batas

“Lubos po ang aming pasasalamat para sa inyong suporta at tiwala. Makakaasa po kayong ipaglalaban natin sa Senado ang mga panukalang magdadala ng mas malawak na oportunidad at kaunlaran sa lahat ng sulok ng Pilipinas,” wika ni Sen. Aquino sa pagtitipon ng mga lider ng iba’t ibang komunidad sa Dumaguete City.

Pinangunahan din ni Sen. Bam ang pagdiriwang ng 41st Araw ng Bayan ng Siquijor, kung saan niyaiginiit ang malaking potensiyal ng lalawigan bilang tourism hotspot.

“Ang hamon po sa atin ngayon: Gawing posible ang dating imposible… Kung dati-rati po, hindi natin lubos maisip na ang Pilipinas ay magiging isang ‘breakout nation’ na pinakamabilis ang pag-angat sa buong Southeast Asia, ngayon po ito ay isa nang realidad,” wika ni Sen. Bam.

“Ang hamon ng panahon ay palawakin pa lalo ang kaunlaran upang umabot sa kasuluk-sulukan ng ating bayan,” dagdag pa ng senador.

Sen. Bam Urges SK Elex Postponement “With Reforms”

Following a Senate hearing of the Committee on Local Government, which tackled the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, Senator Bam Aquino called for the urgent postponement of the SK elections but clarified that he was also pushing for reforms in the system.

Members of the committee, chaired by Senator Bongbong Marcos, had reached a consensus regarding the postponement of the SK elections. The matter has yet to be tackled by the Senate as a body during a plenary session. For the postponement to take effect, a law would have to be passed by Congress and signed by the President.

The synchronized Barangay and SK elections is originally set for October 28, 2013. Ballots are set to be printed on Wednesday, September 4, 2013.

“Let’s not subject our youth leaders to the currently flawed system. We owe it to them to fast-track the reforms at the soonest possible time,” Aquino said. “We agree with the postponement, but this should be done in line with SK reforms.”

A former chairperson of the National Youth Commission (NYC) and currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Aquino in July filed Senate Bill No. 1090, otherwise known as the “Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan (LBK) Bill,” It overhauls the youth representation system and aims to “[return] to the true spirit of volunteerism… taking youth participation away from the clutches of partisan politics.”

It replaces the current form of the SK with a body composed of representatives of youth organizations. It also calls for “bottom-up budgeting” and “‘end-to-end’ transparency, accountability, good governance, and community youth participation for all LBK projects.”

“It is anchored on the twin beliefs that youth organizations are a potent force in nation-building, and that the power of young Filipinos is strongest when they work with people who share their values and goals, and in an environment of teamwork and collaboration,” Aquino pointed out.

The senator also wrote in the LBK Bill: “[This represents] a departure from our current system of youth representation and governance. [The proposed measures] also represent new ways of thinking, coupled with the belief that young Filipinos will embrace these reforms for the sake of genuine change and progress.”

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