Month: October 2013

PH leaps 30 spots in WB report

The Philippines has made significant strides in Ease of Doing Business, leaping 30 spots to 108th place out of 189 countries in the latest joint World Bank-International Finance Corporation report.
The report cited the Philippines as among the 10 best economies that has put inroads in making it easier to do business, together with Ukraine, Rwanda, Russia, Kosovo, Djibouti, Ivory Coast, Burundi, Macedonia and Guatemala.
Also, the report noted that the Philippines made it easier for businessmen to deal with construction permits, get credit, and pay taxes.
Senator Bam Aquino commended concerned government agencies for the country’s vast improvement from the 138th spot last year.
 “I commend the government’s inter-agency task force on Ease of Doing Business for its success in implementing the gameplan for competitiveness that was put forth by the National Competitiveness Council last year to improve our global ranking in the ease of doing business survey,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship.
“Our goal to be pro-negosyo and the most business-friendly country in the region is still a ways off, but this is a good indication that we’re headed in the right direction,” the senator added.
The inter-agency task force is composed of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).
Also included in the task force are the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Land Registration Authority (LRA), Credit Information Corporation (CIC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC).
Aquino’s committee has been conducting regular hearings, dialogues, and consultations with different stakeholders, government agencies, including DTI and the NCC to find ways to further improve the country’s Ease of Doing Business ranking.
“Going from 138th to 108th is a big jump, a break in inertia that we’ve been experiencing. Let’s keep this momentum going,” the young senator stressed.
At the same time, Aquino emphasized that the positive result of the new survey underscored the importance of cooperation between government agencies.
“If agencies work together, with clear and focused targets, we can successfully undertake the necessary reforms that can promote SME development and inclusive growth in the country,” Aquino said.
However, Aquino stressed that government agencies should not rest on their laurels, saying there’s still much work to be done to re-engineer the country’s business systems in a way that will truly benefit entrepreneurs and investors, specifically in terms of improving the simplicity and inter-operability of regulatory systems for greater ease in starting a business.
“For this, greater convergence among agencies needs to happen. Ultimately, our goal for 2016 is to take the country to the top third of the global table,” he added.

Sen. Bam Supports Resolution to Use PDAF for Relief, Rehab Efforts

Senator Bam Aquino expressed support behind a Senate resolution urging Malacañang to declare unused Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for 2013 as savings and to use it for relief and rehabilitation of areas devastated by several calamities.

The Senate on Tuesday passed Resolution No. 14, formally abandoning their PDAF for 2013, thereby creating savings which the government can use as calamity fund.

Aquino, one of the first to suspend the use of the PDAF of his office, said that the unused PDAF could augment the government’s depleting calamity fund, which now stands at P1.37 billion.

“Right now, the government needs all the help it can get. This resolution is the Senate’s way of doing its share to help ease the public’s burden,” Aquino added.

“With the government already neck-deep in problems regarding calamities, the remaining unused PDAF, which amounts to more or less P3.18 billion, could go a long way to help the victims of the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and recent typhoons Labuyo and Santi,” Sen. Aquino said.

Aquino earlier had called for the creation of a P15-billion calamity fund to support rehabilitation of areas that were heavily damaged by the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit Central Visayas on October 15. Later, Malacanang announced that it would earmark P20 billion for rehabilitation.

“I laud Malacanang’s efforts to set aside the necessary funds for the rehabilitation and repair of the affected areas. In any case, calamity funds are a better place for the people’s money than the PDAF,” Sen. Aquino stressed.

Aside from the recent earthquake, several areas in the country had been devastated by typhoons “Labuyo” and “Santi” in recent weeks, while Zamboanga City was left in tatters after an assault by a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Sen. Bam to Traders: Follow Price Freeze

Senator Bam Aquino urges Cebu and Bohol traders to consider the welfare of those affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Central Visayas on Tuesday, and to strictly follow the price freeze that is currently imposed on those areas.

“We should not be taking advantage of the victims who have already suffered enough due to the earthquake,” the lawmaker said after receiving reports that some traders are selling basic goods at a higher price despite the existing price freeze.

“In fact, businessmen who are financially capable should even help the government’s relief efforts,” added Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship.

At the same time, Aquino also called on the public to immediately report violators of the price freeze to authorities.

“We ask the public to help us monitor and report unscrupulous businessmen who are taking advantage of the situation and thinking only of profit,” Sen. Aquino emphasized.

Aquino said the public can contact the Department of Trade and Industry’s local offices in Bohol (038-501-8260),Cebu (032-253-2631 and 412-1863) and Region 7 (032-255-0036/255-0037) for their complaints.

The DTI recently implemented a price freeze in quake-damaged areas in Bohol and Cebu, under Republic Act No. 7581 or the Price Act.

With this, the prices of basic goods in an area placed under a state of calamity must remain at prevailing levels for no more than 60 days.

Price control covers the following basic products: rice; corn; bread; fresh, dried and canned fish and other marine products; fresh pork, beef and poultry meat; fresh eggs; fresh and processed milk.

Also included in the price freeze are fresh vegetables; roots crops; coffee; sugar; cooking oil; salt; laundry soap; detergents; firewood; charcoal; candles; and drugs classified as essential by the Department of Health.

A fine of up to P1,000,000 and a maximum 10-year jail sentence await violators of the Price Act.

Recently, President Aquino signed Republic Act 10623, expanding the coverage of the Price Act to include bottled water, fruits, instant noodles, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) but DTI has yet to draft the implementing guidelines.

Sen. Bam: Use Calamity Fund to Start Quake Rehab

Due to the urgency of the situation, Senator Bam Aquino said that part of the country’s calamity fund for 2013 could be used to cover part of his proposed P15 billion rehabilitation fund, so that recovery of provinces devastated by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake can start immediately.

“Dahil sa pangangailangan, ngayon pa lang ay puwede nanghugutin ang bahagi ng rehabilitation mula sa kasalukuyang calamity fund upang hindi na mag-antay pa ng susunod na taon para sa rehab fund,” Sen. Aquino explained.

The senator said the remainder of the P15-B rehabilitation fund could be included and sourced from next year’s budget.

Aquino is batting for the inclusion of a P15-billion fund in the 2014 national budget, which will be used to rehabilitate Bohol, Cebu, and other nearby provinces from the devastation brought by Tuesday’s strong tremor.

“Ang nasabing pondo ay ilalaan sa rehabilitasyon ng maraming imprastruktura na nasira sa Bohol at Cebu, kabilang ang 18 tulay, mgapampublikong ospital, malalaking kalsada; farm-to-market roads; at iba pang imprastruktuka na nasira ng lindol,” Aquino emphasized.

In addition, Aquino said that part of the funds will be used to repair and rehabilitate public schools destroyed by the earthquake.

The funds will also be utilized to repair centuries-old churches in Cebu and Bohol, including three national heritage sites in Loboc,Dauis, and Baclayon

“Maliban pa rito, ilalaan din ang ilang bahagi ng pondopara suportahan ang mga livelihood at mga negosyo na naapektuhan ng pagyanigupang muli silang makatayo sa sariling paa,” the senator added.

This way, Aquino said, the provinces affected by the earthquake can more quickly get up on their feet through the help of a revitalized economy.

If approved, this is not the first time that a special fund will be included in the national budget for the rehabilitation of provinces destroyed by natural calamities.

In 2007, then-senator Joker Arroyo moved for the inclusion of a P10 billion fund in the national budget under the Calamity Assistance and Rehabilitation Effort (Care) to victims of typhoons “Milenyo,”“Reming”, and “Seniang” that hit the country in late 2006.

Photo by Robert Michael Poole via Twitter (sourced from GMA Network)

Sen. Bam pushes for P15B rehab fund for quake victims

Senator Bam Aquino is pushing for the creation of a P15-billion rehabilitation fund to help Visayan provinces and several parts of Mindanao recover from the devastation brought by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Central Visayas on Monday.
“This rehabilitation fund will cover all bases in rehabilitation to help provinces such as Bohol and Cebu to fully recover from the devastating and crippling effect of this calamity,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship.
The senator said that the bulk of the fund will be used to rehabilitate old churches and other tourism sites in Bohol, a province which thrives on tourism for its world-renowned spots such as the Chocolate Hills in Carmen and the centuries-old colonial churches in Loboc, Baclayon, and Dauis.
The fund will also be utilized to rehabilitate establishments and other infrastructure destroyed by the tremor in the province of Cebu, considered as the region’s center of business and trade.
Aquino added that parts of the fund will be channeled to other places that were affected by the earthquake, including Siquijor and other towns in Mindanao.
“With the help of this fund, provinces affected by the earthquake will be able to get back on their feet and return to their normal lives in no time,” Aquino stressed.
The young senator said the rehabilitation fund will be included in next year’s General Appropriations Act, which has yet to be approved by Congress.
If approved, this is not the first time that a special fund will be included in the national budget for the rehabilitation of provinces destroyed by natural calamities.
In 2007, then-senator Joker Arroyo moved for the inclusion of a P10-billion fund in the national budget under the Calamity Assistance and Rehabilitation Effort (Care) to victims of typhoons “Milenyo,” “Reming”, and “Seniang” that hit the country in late 2006.
Photo from Robert Michael Poole via Twitter, sourced from

First 100 Days: Sen. Bam Champions Inclusive Growth, Reforms

In his first 100 days in office, Sen. Bam Aquino has proven himself to be a champion of inclusive growth and reform through his bills and other initiatives.

Despite being the youngest senator in the 16th Congress, Aquino has been given the task of leading the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, and the Committee on Youth, owing to his vast experience as a globally awarded social entrepreneur and youth leader.

Inclusive growth push

As part of his commitment to push for inclusive growth, Sen. Aquino hit the ground running by filing a slew of priority measures that aim to empower the poor through jobs, livelihood, and access to market and opportunities.

Among them are the Social Value Bill, the Social Enterprise Bill, the Youth Entrepreneurship Bill, the Go Negosyo Bill, the Microfinance Development Institutions Bill, the Fair Competition Bill, and the “Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy” Bill.

Aquino believes that these bills, once approved, will help solve poverty by generating more jobs and creating more livelihood opportunities through the promotion of micro, small, and medium-scale businesses.

“For me, inclusive growth needs to go through business. There is no way that we can achieve inclusive growth without engaging our countrymen in jobs or in enterprise building,” the entrepreneur-turned-lawmaker said.

“Para po sa akin, ‘yan ang isang pinakamalinaw na kailangang tahaking daan. Hindi po natin makukuha ang inclusive growth o malawakang kaunlaran kung hindi tayo tutulong sa mga kababayan natin na magnegosyo o magkatrabaho.”

Aquino also co-convened an Inter-Sectoral Committee on Business Empowerment (ISCBE), together with the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Landbank, and private sector representatives such as Gawad Kalinga and CARD-MRI. The ISCBE meets regularly to promote greater convergence around government’s inclusive growth agenda and to develop synergistic solutions to unemployment and poverty.

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Sen. Aquino also brought together key government agencies and members of the private sector and the academe to push for ease of doing business and to assess the country’s readiness for the ASEAN integration in 2015.

Reforms in governance, youth empowerment

The young lawmaker was also the first legislator to suspend his own Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). He also pushed for its abolition when the so-called P10-billion pork barrel scam was uncovered.

In line with his call to abolish the PDAF, Aquino filed the People’s Fund Bill that will give the people greater control over public funds. Through this measure, taxpayers will be given greater control over where public funds should be allocated.

Sen. Aquino has also filed Senate Bill No. 1090, or the Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan Bill, which seeks to overhaul the current Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) to instill among Filipino youth the true spirit of volunteerism and “save them from the clutches of partisan politics.”

The young senator also convened stakeholders and groups pushing for SK reforms and anti-discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, to further empower these communities and give them a voice.

Aquino expressed confidence that some of his priority measures will be enacted into law, particularly his inclusive growth bills, to help the government in addressing the high unemployment and poverty incidences in the country.

“At the end of the day, if we were able to solve the problem of inclusive growth, we’ll be one step closer to the Philippines that we would want for ourselves,” Aquino said.

ADB Official: PH Bright Example in Development of Social Enterprise

A ranking official of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) believes the Philippines has the potential to become a regional leader and a bright example in the development of social enterprise and inclusive business.
However, ADB vice president Stephen Groff stressed that the government and private sector must “take stronger steps to boost this sector” in this ideal time where there is “explosion and interest in social enterprise”.
“Such growth must rely primarily on local ingenuity, resources and commitment to substantially reduce poverty and deprivation across the country,” Groff said in his speech during the Social Business Summit, which opened last Wednesday at GK’s Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan.
“Gains can be made by forging closer collaboration with international partners who can offer promising approaches, voluntary support, and technical expertise and financial resources,” Groff emphasized.
Groff said the government–both national and local–can serve as advocate and champion by raising awareness and providing finances to those interested in venturing into social enterprises.
“The government can also lead by example through the procurement of quality goods and services. It will help create a virtual cycle that will allow these social enterprises to grow,” he added.
The private sector, for its part, could sponsor a “bootcamp” to identify social problems, define change, construct business model and measure social impact.
Earlier, Senator Bam Aquino, the first social entrepreneur to be elected as senator, filed a number of bills that aim to support social enterprises and redefine the concept of social value in government spending.
Senate Bill No. 1026, otherwise known as the “Social Enterprise Bill,” aims to establish a Poverty Reduction Though Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Program that will “provide a nurturing environment for the growth and burgeoning of strong and innovative social enterprises as tools to reduce poverty”.
Sen. Aquino also filed Senate Bill No. 1029, also known as the Social Value Bill, which redefines “value for money” for government procurement as going beyond products and services with the lowest price, to those which offer “the greatest collective benefit to the community.”
The young lawmaker earlier said, “Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that, as the country grows, more Filipinos are able to grow with us. Now that the Philippines is growing at a phenomenal rate and all eyes are on our economy, now is the time to make sure that no one gets left behind.”

GK Enchanted Farm is Site of Country’s First Social Enterprise School

The GK Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan will be the site of the first-ever social enterprise school that will help spur the sector’s growth.

This was announced Thursday by no less than Education Secretary Armin Luistro during the Social Business Summit that coincided with Gawad Kalinga’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Luistro said the social enterprise school will be part of senior high school or the last two years under DepEd’s K+12 program.

“The social enterprise school will serve as a model for the establishment of such kinds of schools in other parts of the country,” said Luistro.

Luistro said that with GK spearheading the first social enterprise school, students will be prepared and guided for small business ventures and other career paths that are in tune with today’s demands.

“This program is also in line with DepEd’s Abot-Alam program, which aims to lure some five million out-of-school youth back to school,” Luistro added.

Also, Luistro shared his plan of connecting public schools in the Philippines’s 46,500 barangays with local community and industry partners to further advance the quality of education in the country.

Government convergence

Key personalities and institutions from both the government and the private sector have likewise pledged support for this initiative.

Aside from Luistro, Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil de los Reyes, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) head and Environment and Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Marcial Amaro also emphasized their commitment to GK’s programs and advocacies.

Amaro said the DENR has committed to establish an Agro-Economic and Nature Park at the GK Enchanted Farm that will help the government’s National Greening Program.

For his part, de los Reyes said the agency is focused on strengthening Agrarian Reform Beneficiary (ARB) groups in different parts of the country by providing them with the needed farm equipment and other implements.

Also, de los Reyes said the DAR is coordinating with other government agencies such as the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to fast-track the establishment of cooperative and rural workers association at a cheaper cost.

Balisacan, in his speech, emphasized that social entrepreneurs play a key role in reducing the country’s unemployment and poverty rate.

Private sector support

From the private sector, high-profile educational institutions De La Salle University and Hautes Etudes de Commerce (HEC) Paris—Europe’s leading business school—have likewise committed to support the educational of future social entrepreneurs.

According to Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot, Executive Director of the HEC Social Business Chair, “It’s urgent to invent new ways to do business and to raise a new generation to do it. We need a paradigm shift [in education and in doing business.]”

Likewise, organizations and corporations such as the LifeBank Foundation and Hyundai have committed to support the education of future social entrepreneurs by developing both physical infrastructure and long-term programs, in order to build “laboratories” for social enterprise and countryside development. These are among the many other forms of support pledged by various public and private sector partners of Gawad Kalinga.

Scroll to top