Month: May 2014

23rd WEF Plays Vital Role in PH Economy – Sen. Bam

The 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia, which will be held in the country from May 21-23, plays a vital role to the Philippine economy with the 2015 ASEAN Integration fast approaching.
“With the spotlight on East Asia, we should take every opportunity to showcase and promote the country’s robust economic growth,” said Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
Earlier, the World Economic Forum (WEF) described the Philippine economy as one of the “greatest economic comeback stories in recent years.”
The WEF also predicted that the country would be the strongest performing Southeast Asian economy this year, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth projected to surpass 6.5 percent.
“The Forum is an ideal stage where we can entice businessmen to pour investments and establish other ventures in the country, aside from promoting our products and services,” added Aquino, whose office is one of the organizers of the Forum.
Aquino believes that the government and private sector should grab every opportunity to promote the country before the launching of the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community 2015.
“When the integration starts, we expect tight competition from other countries for a lion’s share of the ASEAN market composed of 600 million people,” Aquino said, who is part of the prestigious WEF community and will participate in the events the next few days.
In his speech during the 3rd National Symposium Workshop on Empowering People & Organizations in the Workplace for Excellent Results (E-Power), Aquino stressed the important role of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country’s economy at the start of ASEAN integration.
“As much as there are risks here, there are opportunities there,” Aquino said, emphasizing that enhancing the quality of our products and services will increase the businesses’ chances to perform favorably in the free market.
Photo source: WEF Website

Ensure Safety of Bus Passengers Immediately – Sen. Bam to Gov’t Agencies

Alarmed by the spate of accidents involving provincial buses in the past few days, Senator Bam Aquino called on concerned government agencies to intensify inspection and monitoring of provincial buses to ensure safety of travelers.

“These accidents are alarming, considering that many of our fellow Filipinos are trooping to the provinces for the last few weeks of summer vacation,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

Aquino said the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTRFB) must conduct regular inspection and monitoring to avoid loss of lives and limbs in the future.

Last Wednesday, three people were killed and 13 others were injured when a Raymond bus en route to Quezon City was rammed by 10-wheeler truck in Tiaong, Quezon. The LTFRB suspended the bus’ franchise to operate for 30 days.

Recently, three people were killed while 14 others were injured when a bus hit a mango tree in Burgos, Ilocos Norte while 21 passengers were injured when a bus fell down a ravine in Aurora.

“Suspension of franchise to operate isn’t enough. Prevention is better than cure and one way of doing it is through regular safety inspection of buses plying the provincial routes,” Aquino stressed.

At the same time, Aquino calls on operators to help the government by ensuring that their buses are in good running condition before allowing them to travel.

“Under the franchise given to them, operators have the responsibility to ensure safe travel for commuters. It is practical for them to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy before they leave,” Aquino emphasized.

Aside from this, Aquino said operators should check the condition of their drivers if they physically and mentally fit to drive.

“Government agencies and private operators have to work side by side to ensure safe travels for many Filipinos who rely on mass transportation,” Aquino said.


Photo source: Rappler

Sen. Bam hits BIR’s ‘Anti-Poor’ Circular, Files a Bill to Exempt Small Businessmen from Taxes

Senator Bam Aquino has filed a bill seeking to exempt Marginal Income Earners (MIEs), including farmers, fishermen, tricycle drivers, small sari-sari storeowners and other micro-entrepreneurs, from payment of income tax.

In Senate Bill 2227, Aquino said MIEs, or self-employed individuals who earn not more than P150,000 annually, should be spared from paying income tax, just like minimum wage earners.

“Granting income tax exemption to minimum wage earners while subjecting our small businessmen to income tax is contrary to the mandate of the Constitution, there being no substantial distinction between them in terms of earning capacity,” Aquino said in his measure.

Aquino made the move after the Bureau of Internal Revenue released a memorandum circular — Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 7-2014 — compelling micro entrepreneurs to pay income tax returns.

The circular said MIEs include agricultural growers/producers such as farmers and fishermen selling directly to consumers, small sari-sari stores, small carinderias or “turo-turos,” and drivers/operators of a single unit tricycle.

“Charging taxes does not help them in any way. Rather, it becomes a burden to a sector that is situated below the poverty line,” Aquino said.

“Imposing income tax on our small businessmen is tantamount to confiscating what little income they are able to make on a daily basis,” he added.

The bill classifies MIEs as self-employed individuals – working neither for the private sector nor the government — deriving gross sales/receipts not exceeding P150,000 during any 12-month period, which will be used principally for subsistence or livelihood.

If enacted into law, the bill allows the BIR to adjust the income cap on the gross sales of the small businessmen to match any increase that minimum wage income earners may receive.

Aside from income tax, MIEs shall be exempt from 12 percent value-added tax and any percentage tax imposed under the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 because they are not engaged in trade for which these taxes are imposed.

“Such a measure provides an enabling environment for our Filipino people to thrive and be given a chance to succeed.  It further continues our campaign in achieving true inclusive growth for everyone, even for the poor and marginalized,” Aquino said.


Photo source: biogprawny

Mindanao Brownout Bad for Business, Development – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino calls on concerned government agencies to immediately address the rotating brownout in Mindanao, saying it impedes the development of the region.

“We cannot accept that businesses are losing millions of pesos everyday. Lost income will lead to loss of jobs and other livelihood opportunities for our people,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

Aquino, who hails from Davao, urged the government to open the electricity market to small independent power producers to help solve power shortage in the area.

“A more competitive and a level-playing market would provide better service to our people,” said Aquino, who recently visited Davao to check on businesses in the area.

Aquino said it is not acceptable that prospective investors would lose interest in the region because of the long power interruption.

“These power interruptions are putting Mindanao’s present and future economic development at risk so we must address this now,” the senator emphasized.

“How can Mindanao be the next big thing in business if electricity supply continues to be a problem,” he added.

Aquino made the reaction after the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CDOCCI) revealed that Mindanao businesses are losing an estimated P30 million per hour to power interruption.

“With an average of six hours of power interruption, Mindanao businesses are losing P180 million per day. This is really bad for business and bad for prospective investors,” Aquino said.

Ensure Quality of Education Before Any Tuition Fee Increase – Sen. Bam to CHED

Senator Bam Aquino has asked the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to consider quality of education in determining whether a tuition fee increase is justified.

Aquino made the pronouncement after the CHED revealed that a total of 353 private universities and colleges have filed petitions to increase their tuition and other fees this coming school year.

“Quality of education should be one of the criteria before allowing a school to increase tuition fees,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Youth.

“How can a college explain to parents that they need to pay more when their children aren’t getting the quality education they deserve?” stressed Aquino.

Aquino called on CHED to add the passing rate of colleges in board exams, employability of the graduates and other criteria to measure quality of education in allowing the universities and colleges to raise their tuition fees.

“We must ensure the employability of graduates as way of addressing the country’s high unemployment rate,” the senator said.

Aquino also revealed that he plans to file a resolution to call on CHED and the representatives of the private universities and colleges to address the issue.


Photo source:

Tired of Graft, Corruption? Register! – Sen. Bam on Youth

Tired of graft, corruption and red tape? Register!

Senator Bam Aquino encourages the three million youth voters to register so they can exercise their constitutional right to suffrage and be an instrument of change in the country’s political system.

“Don’t waste your right to vote. This is one way you can effect positive change in the country’s political system,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Youth.

Aquino said new registrants have 17 months or from May 6, 2014 to October 31, 2015 to register and be counted for the 2016 national and local elections.

“In 2016, you will play an important part in selecting next president and other leaders who will chart the country’s course. Don’t waste this opportunity,” the senator said.

At the same time, Aquino called on the 9.6 million registered voters who have no biometric data to update their records with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during the registration period so they can vote in 2016.

According to Republic Act No. 10367, or the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Act, a voter without biometric record will be removed from the list and will not be able to vote in the next election.

The senator also encouraged local officials to assist the Comelec’s efforts in the registration of voters by providing transportation to their constituents living in far-flung areas.

However, Aquino said local officials should bring their constituents to the Comelec office early and not wait on the last day to avoid chaos.

Aquino reminded new registrants to bring one valid ID, like a driver’s license, and any government, company, school ID or passport.

He also reminded registrants that Comelec offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be closed only on either Friday or Saturday.

Let’s Just Work Together to Hasten Rehabilitation! – Sen. Bam to Gov’t Officials

Let’s just work together!

Senator Bam Aquino called on concerned government officials to set aside their differences and work in unison to speed up the government’s rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

Aquino made the pronouncement amid the reported rift between Yolanda rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and two unidentified Cabinet members.

“It’s been six months since Typhoon Yolanda hit, and the rehabilitation should be moving smoothly already.  Let’s get our act together so that the survivors can get back to their normal lives,” said Aquino, Chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“The world is watching. Let us show them how we can come together and help the victims get back on their feet,” he added.

Aquino’s reaction stemmed from Lacson’s claim that two Cabinet members have been ignoring his request for assistance, delaying important rehabilitation projects in Yolanda-devastated areas.

The senator said this should not be the case because Yolanda rehabilitation is one of the government’s priority programs in the next three years.

“We should not prolong the agony of the Yolanda survivors. They lost their loved ones, their property and livelihood so we should not make them suffer even more,” said Aquino.

Aquino also urged concerned government agencies to submit their respective formal plans for affected areas to hasten the finalization of a master plan that will set the timetable and direction of the rehabilitation.

The Senate has approved a P14.6-billion supplemental budget for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas hit by typhoon Yolanda.

Recently, Aquino called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to closely monitor the prices of construction materials in Eastern Visayas after receiving reports of overpricing in areas devastated by Yolanda.

The DTI acted with haste, saying it will “double or triple” the frequency of monitoring and punish establishments selling overpriced construction materials.


Photo source: (

Stakeholders Should Work for Better Internet Service – Sen. Bam

We want to build, not blame.

With this, Senator Bam Aquino called on stakeholders to work together to make sure consumers get what they’re paying for and give them the best Internet service possible.

“It’s about getting all the groups together. In the Philippines, all of our major problems only get solved when everyone comes together to solve it,” said Aquino during a television interview.

“We need to really work together to make sure consumers get what they’re paying for and get to a place where their Internet is really functioning at a satisfactory level or the best level possible,” the senator added.

Aquino said the momentum of the country’s economic growth, which is the largest in the ASEAN region, would be for nothing because of the poor and expensive Internet service.

“We have the highest growth in the whole ASEAN. We’re going from developing to developed country in the next ten to fifteen years. We cannot do that with poor Internet service,” Aquino emphasized.

At the same time, Aquino called on the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to chart the roadmap that will lead to a faster, cheaper and more Internet availability for more Filipinos.

“The NTC should be empowered to create this roadmap for better services for Filipinos because there is a lot of public interest here. That’s where I think the collaboration can be better so we can see this roadmap forward,” Aquino stressed.

Aquino is also considering a department-level body that will oversee the state of Internet in the country.

Presently, Aquino said several government agencies — Department of Science and Technology (DOST), NTC and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – focused on the issue of Internet in the country.

“We should put all of these functions together to a department that corresponds to the information age that were in right now,” Aquino said.

Working 37th birthday for Sen. Bam

It will be a working birthday for Senator Bam Aquino, who is expected to submit three committee reports and file seven key bills as he turns 37 today (May 7).

“The welfare of the country and fellow Filipinos should be prioritized above anything else,” said Aquino, the youngest senator in the 16th Congress.

As chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship and the Committee on Youth, the senator will deliver a sponsorship speech for the Poverty Reduction through Social Enterprise (PRESENT), Youth Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy and Philippine Lemon Law on Motor Vehicles bills.

Seven other measures – the Community Disaster Warehouse Bill, Coastal Mangrove Planting Bill, BEI-Election Service Reform Bill, Philippine Big Data Center Bill and the Cooperatives Officer Bill, Credit Surety Fund Bill and Start Up Business Bill – are also expected to be filed today.

“We should work hard to get them out of poverty and find commonalities that will benefit most, if not all, Filipinos. This is one way of thanking them for their trust and confidence,” Aquino emphasized.

Transcript of Sen. Bam Aquino’s Interview on the Slow, Expensive Internet

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.

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

ANSWER: 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.

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

ANSWER: Hard to say that that’s a crime.

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.

 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.


QUESTION: Kailan iyon?

ANSWER: If it is referred today, we can have that (investigation) next week. Kung ma-refer siya today.

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