Month: May 2014

Statement of Senator Bam Aquino on the Napolist

Whether she’s most guilty or least guilty, Janet Lim Napoles is still guilty and should be held accountable for her actions.

The veracity of her affidavit will determine whether her apology to the public is real and heartfelt or if she’s just destroying the reputation of innocent government officials.

That’s why the Department of Justice needs to scrutinize it thoroughly and compare it with the earlier testimonies of Benhur Luy, Ruby Tuason and other whistleblowers.

The other cases filed with the Ombudsman underwent the same process so it is imperative that Napoles’ affidavit goes through the same process to determine its truthfulness.

If it will be established that Napoles is lying, then she wasted the only opportunity to redeem herself for her sins against the public.


Sen. Bam, DTI Inspect Prices, Quality of School Supplies in Divisoria

Days before the start of classes, the Office of Senator Bam Aquino and concerned government agencies conducted a joint test-buy operation Thursday (May 29) to check prices and ensure quality of school supplies in Divisoria, Manila.

The group, led by Aquino and Trade Secretary Gregory purchased school supplies from different stores in Tutuban to check on their prices and quality.

Also, Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) officials joined the operation and inspected several school supplies, including crayons, for safety issues.

“As we all know, Divisoria is a favorite destination for budget-conscious shoppers of school supplies so we want to know if stores follow the suggested retail prices set by the DTI,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“Aside from checking prices, there is also the need to check the labels of school supplies being sold to ensure that consumers are getting their money’s worth down to the last centavo,” Secretary Domingo added.

Aquino warned that violation of existing quality standards and labeling requirements is punishable under the Consumer Act.

School supplies covered by PNS are crayons, wood-cased black lead pencils, pencil sharpeners, writing chalk, bond paper, notebooks, grade school pad, ruler, white board marker, correction fluid, paper clips, glue, ball point pen and refill, and, eraser.

The Trade Secretary said that stalls that sell non-conforming school supplies would be issued a show-cause letter and given 48 hours to respond.

“If they are found to have a violation, a notice of violation can be immediately issued,” Domingo said.

Transcript of Sen. Bam Aquino’s Interview after the Hearing on the Slow and Expensive Internet Connection

Q: Kumusta po ang inyong hearing?

A: Marami pang kailangang pag-usapan, to be frank. We just suspended the hearing but you can expect that in a few months, we will have another hearing on this because marami pang unresolved issues.


Changes in Advertising

We talked mostly about the problems today but I really want to talk about solutions. One I think iyong changes sa ating advertising, I think that would be quite good for our consumers na mas malinaw kung ano ang nakukuha nila pagdating sa Internet.


Pangalawa iyong pagdating sa congestion. We’ve instructed NTC to actually check if indeed congestion is the main problem kung bakit mabagal ang Internet.

Sabi ko nga, kung congestion ito na once in a blue moon, then maybe you can say ok at that particular time, mahina ang Internet. But if it a regular type of congestion, araw-araw mong nararanasan, that’s something that has to be addressed regularly.

Value-Added Service vs. Basic Service

Now, NTC has said na Internet natin is considered as a value-added service, hindi siya basic service meaning hindi siya makapagregulate nang todo-todo dahil hindi ito kasama sa basic services natin.

I think that can be one of the laws that could be amended na gawin nating basic service ang Internet. It is already recognized as a human right and if we make it a basic service, at least puwede talaga nating bantayan kung paano ito puwedeng maikalat sa maraming Pilipino, at the right cost and at the right service level.

Next Step: Technical Working Group

The TWG will probably tackle this more in detail. Hopefully aantabayanan po natin iyan kung paano gumalaw.

Kasi ang nagiging problema sa maraming hearing, nag-uusap-usap pero walang nangyayari.

Hindi natin iiwanan ang isyung ito.

Every quarter we can have this hearing and make sure that we get closer to affordable and quality Internet for our country.


Q: Puwede bang babaan ang charges sa Internet na mabagal?

A. Sa totoo lang, NTC cannot regulate even on that because it’s not a basic service.

It is a market driven system right now.  If we’re able to make Internet a basic service, it can one of the services which is regulated.

Alam naman natin na sa ating bansa, may mga regulators tayo, they can basically dictate the prices for certain services and if we’re able to make Internet a basic service, puwede nang gawin iyan. Puwede nang mag-regulate.


Q: Sir ano ang mga standards that you want to set?

A: In fact, in the Philippine Digital Strategy, nakalagay doon na by 2016, kailangang 80 percent na ng ating mga kababayan ang mayroong internet access and nasa minimum of 2 MPBS.

Mayroon na tayong standard na kailangang sundan. This Philippine Digital Strategy was made by DOST in 2010.

In fact, binabantayan natin kung umaabot tayo sa standards na iyon. According to the private sector and NTC, mukhang maaabot naman ang 80 percent access by 2016.

But iyong regularity of speed and iyong cost ang dapat bantayan, na dapat affordable pa rin ito at tuluy-tuloy at hindi dapat pawala-wala.


Q: Sino ba dapat magre-regulate? Dapat pa ba tayong mag-create ng regulator?

We have a regulator and that’s the NTC. So alam ninyo iyong isang na-reason kanina ay do we need new laws or just have NTC regulate.

In some cases, puwede na silang mag-regulate but in case of the Internet, na hindi considered as basic service, kailangan itong gawing basic service.


Q: Sir, how do we do that?

We’ll amend the Public Service Act, which is a 1936 law.

Isipin mo, we’re talking about high-tech information age and we’re still using a 1936 law.

So it’s about time that we update this law and we use those amendments to really push for better access, more affordable internet in the Philippines.


Q: This means powerless po ang government?

No that’s not right. In fact, we asked NTC to come up with standards for Internet. Initially, walang pa silang standard na sini-set because this is a value added service.


To respond lang sa hinaing ng maraming Pilipino, kahit iyong ibang senador may hinaing na rin sila, it’s just right that they come up with standards to check the infrastructure kung talagang kaya ng infrastructure natin ang pinapangakong speed ng ating Internet.

Kung hindi, pilitin natin ang private sector na ma-match ang standards na nakalay-out na at gagawin ng NTC.

Responsibility of Users

Iyong kabaligtad din dito I think, we must be responsible users of the Internet just to be fair. Earlier nga na-mention na iilang tao lang na heavy users, apektado ang lahat.

Kung 24/7 ka sa mobile, panay ang download mo, nakakaapekto sa mga kasama mo.


Q: Sir in your next hearing ano po ang tututukan ninyo?

A: First we’ll have a TWG. All of the resource speakers, the NTC, DOST, DTI and telco partners. We’ll invite the other ISPs. I think mahalaga rin dito ang ating local government units.


Puro Salita

Himayin natin ang discussion natin and come up with specific recommendations and from there, we’ll give it maybe two to three months to have another hearing para ma-track natin kung may nangyayari ba o wala.

Ang masakit kasi, puro salita at walang nangyayari. By the next hearing, after three months, we can check already, mayroon ba tayong solusyon na naihain o nagawa na o wala pa rin.


On Local Government Units

Iyon isa ring siguro na na-raise ay iyong sa local government units. Sinasabi ng ating telcos, hindi pare-pareho ang pagtrato sa kanila ng LGUs. There are some LGUs who will charge a really high amount, ang iba naman will charge less.

Nahihirapan sila (telcos) na i-roll out ang kanilang services. Kaya it’s important also to have the DILG, League of Cities and the League of Municipalities to have a common stand that when it comes to Internet and providing, kailangang tulung-tulong tayo rito.

On Congestion

Standards when it terms to congestion. At the minimum, they can actually show kung iyong infrastructure natin nagma-match sa population or Internet usage, para kung congestion nga ang problema, makita natin kung ano ang paraan kung anong ma-decongest natin.

Q: What’s the issue with Internet peering?

A: Well this is something NTC is already working on. We’ll ask for an update on the next hearing or during the TWG.

Ibig sabihih nito nagko-connect locally ang ating mga nodes. To be frank, maybe a technical answer might be better.



Simply put, kunyari galing akong Quezon City pupunta akong Makati, dadaan akong EDSA. Hindi na ako iikot sa Manila Bay, pupunta pa sa Cebu at babalik pa bago makarating sa Makati.

This makes the nodes faster. I think NTC is already working on this, and we’ll look for updates after three months on this issue.


Q. Kasama po ba ang mga text na pinapadala ng network na may promo sa resolusyon ninyo?

A: It’s not part of the resolution but we can add it.


Q: Kung minsan matutulog ka na lang may magtetext, akala ko importante.

A: I can have that checked. Pag nandoon na ang NTC puwede nating patanong iyon. But primarily kasi, the question is more on the expensive Internet.

Compared to other countries, medyo lumalayo na ang presyo. So we’re hoping kung ma-refer na siya sa aming committee today, we’re hoping to have the hearing next week.


Q: Hindi magkakalayo ang mga rates nila, so puwede ba nating sabihin na maaaring may cartel rin sila?

A: Hard to say that that’s a crime.


Fair Competition

But babalik din tayo diyan sa competition policy. That’s one of the bills we’re pushing for.  If you have better competition, you have more people in the market, mas competitive, mas bababa ang presyo.


Roadmap for Internet

Primarily gusto naming tanungin sa NTC, ano ang roadmap natin.

Technically, regulated industry iyan, NTC should have a roadmap in terms of the price and quality.

Unfortunately, napag-iwanan na tayo ng ibang mga bansa so we want to see. Antabayanan natin kung anong sasabihin nila.

Spare No One in Pork Barrel Probe! – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino stressed that the full force of the law should be imposed to those who benefited from the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

“The government should not spare anyone in this investigation. If they do, it will send a wrong signal to the public that anyone can pocket billions and get away with it easily,” said Aquino.

Aquino made the reaction after it was reported that alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles asked the government to spare her children from prosecution.

“How can her children be spared from this investigation when whistleblowers revealed that they were the ones forging the signatures of Malampaya Fund ghost beneficiaries,” Aquino said.

According to the whistleblowers, Aquino said Napoles’ children Jo Christine and James Christopher allegedly received the funds that were funnelled to bogus non-government organizations if she was not at home.

“Testimonies show that they are major participants in this scheme and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and not be treated with kids’ gloves,” the senator emphasized.

Also, Aquino said Napoles should face the Senate after she recovers from vaginal bleeding and divulge to the public the truth

“After she recovers, she should face the Senate once and for all, tell what the public wants to know,” Aquino said.

“This way, we will let the truth prevail and punish those involved in the scam,” he added.

Sen. Bam Supports Coco Levy Trust Fund Act Filed by Farmers

Senator Bam Aquino expressed support behind a measure filed by several farmer organizations through a petition for Indirect Initiative that seeks to create a trust fund from the P73-billion coco levy fund for the development of the coconut industry.

Aquino personally joined members of the Koalisyon para sa Ugnayang Magniniyog or KILUS-Magniniyog as they filed Coconut Farmers Trust Fund Act with Senate Secretary Oscar Yabes.

Section 3 (b) and Section 11 of Republic Act 6735 or the “The Initiative and Referendum Act” allows people to submit legislative measures to Congress for action through indirect initiative.

Aquino stressed that the coco levy fund should not be left idle and instead should be fully utilized for the development of coconut farmers, who are among the poorest of the poor in the country.

“We’re hoping that the fund will be used for the development of the coconut industry and the farmers,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

According to the Department of Agriculture’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.

However, Aquino said coconut farmers are earning just between P16,842 to P23,000 per year.

The Supreme Court earlier declared the coco levy fund belongs to the government and should be used for the welfare of coconut farmers.

The measure filed by coconut farmers aims to use the recovered coco levy funds to develop the country’s coconut industry and benefit small coconut farmers.

Through the trust fund, marginalized coconut farmers will be assisted in developing coconut-based enterprises that can compete in the global market.

Human Resource Development Key to Inclusive Growth – Sen. Bam

The government should put premium in developing the quality of human resources, as it will help the country achieve inclusive and sustainable growth.

“The best thing about the Philippines is the Filipino, so it’s high time we invest in the further development of our people,” said Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, as he echoed an earlier position by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.

Aquino also encouraged schools to help in the development of human resources by providing training and other capacity building measures to arm students with additional skills when they turn professional in the future.

“Aside from this, we should provide added training to our seasoned workers so they will not be left behind in these modern times,” the senator added.

Aquino stressed that strengthening human resources development will also help create more jobs in the country, particularly in areas of agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development, semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, and business process outsourcing (BPOs).

“With jobs available for more Filipinos, the unemployment rate and poverty incidence in the country will go down,” Aquino said. Aquino added that the human resources development is crucial especially with the 2015 ASEAN Integration fast approaching.

“We need to develop our human resources now so we can be ahead of the competition for the lion’s share of the market composed of 600 million people,” Aquino stressed.

With capacity building is one of the areas of cooperation identified in the 2015 ASEAN integration, Aquino said investing in human resources would empower the country to face the challenges of integration.


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Print Ads Imposing Age Limit on Applicants Equal to Discrimination – DOLE

Billboards and advertisements imposing age limit on applicants is tantamount to discrimination, an official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

Assistant Secretary Gloria Tango made the pronouncement during the Senate hearing on the proposed measure to remove age limit for job applicants.

“Putting age limit on billboards for a job vacancy is considered discrimination,” Tango said in response to Senator Bam Aquino’s query regarding the practice of employers in imposing age restrictions on applicants.

However, Tango said employers get away with it because there is no penalty for such action.

Tango added that some employers are not aware that putting age limit on advertisements for job openings is already equivalent to discrimination.

“Information dissemination is one area where we can intensify our advocacy against discrimination,” Tango emphasized.

Aquino earlier committed to work against practice of companies to hire employees based on age, calling it discriminatory on the part of workers who still want to be productive citizens.

As part of his promise, Aquino will work on to add age as a basis on the bill that he filed seeking to prohibit and penalize discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, civil status, HIV status and other medical condition, among others.

Explaining his bill, Aquino said that while the Philippines was a signatory to numerous international agreements that seek to ensure respect for the human rights of all persons, discrimination is still prevalent in schools, workplaces, public service, as well as commercial establishments.

“In schools, workplaces, commercial establishments, public service, police and military, prejudicial practices and policies based on sexual orientation, gender and cultural identity limit the exercise and enjoyment of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as impede or delay the delivery of basic services,” Aquino said.

Lack of True Inclusive Growth Dips Down PH Rating – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino points the country’s drop in the 2014 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) to lack of true inclusive growth.

“If there is true inclusive growth, our global competitiveness will further improve,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

Aquino made the assessment after the country slipped four notches in the WCY despite the country’s 7.2 percent GDP growth — the second highest among countries ranked in the report.

The country’s rating was affected by five critical challenges, including infrastructure, corruption, unemployment and underemployment, undeveloped financial system and natural disasters.

While admitting that the country’s woes have been compounded by calamities and high-profile cases, the senator also said government needs to improve on in its inclusive growth strategies that will address unemployment and the economic gap that divides the rich and the poor and ultimately build a stronger, more sustainable economy.

“Our growth has not reflected true progress for everyone in the country.  It is urgent that we do something about our youth and unemployed,” he added. “We can become more competitive when we empower our labor sector; we want a country where no one is left behind.”

Investigate Rampant Cybersex Activities Involving Minors! – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino expressed alarm over the reported rampant cyber pornographic activities involving minors in the country.

According to Aquino, the Philippines has been listed by international watchdog Virtual Global Task Force as among the top ten countries with rampant cyber pornographic activities involving mostly boys and girls age 10-14.

Aquino added that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has identified 31 provinces as cybercrime hotspots for harboring cybersex and cyberporn hubs, and are being closely monitored.

“Reports showed that most patrons of these multi-billion-dollar cyber activities are from the United States of America and European countries,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Youth.

Recently, 58 Filipinos were arrested in connection with alleged “sextortion” activities where they blackmail unsuspecting victims that they will spread their nude and compromising videos and photos online unless they pay huge amounts of money.

“This only shows that widespread incidence of prostitution and pornography in the Philippines has reached every part of the globe through cyberspace, and cybercrime dens operating in the country have reached international victims,” Aquino said.

The rampant cybersex operation in the country is prevalent despite the existence of Republic Act No. 9775 otherwise known as the “Anti-Child Pornography Law of 2009.”

The law prohibits any person from employing, inducing or coercing a child to engage or be involved in “explicit sexual activities, whether visual, audio, or written combination thereof, and knowingly distributes it in any manner”.

Aside from this, the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

In line with this, Aquino has filed a resolution seeking to investigate exploitation and abuse of minors by cybersex syndicates and the rampant spread of online child pornography.

“There is a need to ensure that those who have access to Internet are protected from predators who search out children who are vulnerable and easily manipulated,” Aquino said.

Aquino believes that constant vigilance is key to the possible eradication of these pornographic materials involving children.


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Try Tech-Voc Courses for Better Employment Chances – Sen. Bam to Students

Amid the rising unemployment rate due to job mismatch, Senator Bam Aquino called on high school and college graduates to try technical-vocational courses because of their high demand on the job market.

“We need to adjust to current demands by the labor sector. If we don’t do that, then we’ll end up at the back of the unemployment line,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

Aquino made the call after the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that the Philippines has the highest unemployment rate in Southeast Asia, mainly because of job mismatch.

The ILO said the Philippines has an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent compared to six percent by Indonesia and 3.7 percent by Brunei.

Myanmar has an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, Malaysia has 3.2 percent and Singapore has 3.1 percent. At the bottom of the list are Vietnam (1.9 percent), Laos (1.4 percent) Thailand (0.8 percent) and Cambodia (0.3 percent).

According to the latest labor force survey of the National Statistics Office (NSO), unemployment rate rose to 7.5 percent or 2.969 million jobless Filipinos from 7.1 percent in January 2013 and 6.5 percent last October.

Aquino said the high number of jobless Filipinos is a result of a surge in new entrants to the labor sector and job mismatch dilemma that has been hounding the country in recent years.

The senator mentioned a recent report from the Department of Labor and Employment, showing that 35.8 percent of applicants were rejected because of lack of competencies.

The senator also cited another DOLE report saying that majority of skills required by 3.8 million job vacancies is technical-vocational related, such as services, information technology and communications.

“Schools produce more four-year college graduates but the current labor market demands for more skills-related workers that can only be filled by technical-vocational graduates,” Aquino stressed.

At the same time, the lawmaker also advised students to dismiss the stigma that goes with technical-vocational courses and instead focus on what career path will give them a brighter future.

Aside from addressing job mismatch, Aquino said the government should strengthen its support on micro, small and medium enterprises to boost employment opportunities.

Aquino recently filed the Youth Entrepreneurship Bill to help address the problem of high unemployment among the youth.

The senator said would-be youth entrepreneurs should be given access to financing, training, market linkages, and other means of support that will help them run and develop their own businesses.


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