Month: June 2014

Statement of Sen. Bam Aquino on the Student’s Death from Hazing

This culture of violence must stop now! We strongly denounce the use of inhumane means because it has no space in a civilized and modern society where we live in.

Violence is not the way to foster brotherhood and camaraderie. There are other more humane ways where we can cultivate brotherhood and unity.

We call on the authorities to ensure that those behind this senseless act be brought to justice and punished for their crimes.



Easier Credit Access to Fuel Growth of MSMEs – Sen. Bam

Despite the key role they play in strengthening the economy, lack of access to financing remains as the biggest roadblock for the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

“The existing requirements for credit do not consider the nature and stature of these micro and small businesses,” said Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

The senator pointed out that current prerequisites for financing are marginalizing the MSME sector, which accounts for 99.6% of all enterprise in the country and employs about 62% of the workforce in the country.

To address this, Aquino has filed Senate Bill No. 2218 expanding and strengthening the current Credit Surety Fund (CSF) program of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to enable it to extend financial help to more micro and small enterprises all over the country.

“The CSF is seen as an effective program to address the financing gap that is affecting many entrepreneurs in the country,” Aquino said, referring to the BSP’s credit enhancement scheme that allows MSMEs, which are members of cooperatives to borrow from banks without collateral.

He emphasized that CSF must be supported by passing laws that will augment and enable it to help more small businesses who lack access to capital and other assistance.

“With our bill, we will institutionalize CSF and give it more funding to enable it to provide help to more MSMEs,” Aquino added.

The BSP recently launched three CSF programs in Cagayan de Oro, Aklan, and Tarlac, bringing the total number of credit surety funds established nationwide to 29 from 26 in the previous year.

In addition, the bill is aimed at aimed at building the capability of MSMEs, cooperatives and non-government organizations in the areas of credit evaluation, loan and risk management, and good governance.

Also, the bill seeks to enhance the MSMEs’ credit worthiness and broaden access to credit facilities, and sustain the continuous flow of credit in the countryside.

“This will generate more employment and alleviate poverty through increased investments and economic activities,” added Aquino, stressing that the challenge is to grow the micro businesses into small enterprises and the small enterprises to medium enterprises.

“If it this is done, growth would not only be for the few rich, rather, it would be for everyone, even to the poorest Filipino,” Aquino said.



Probe on Crooked Emission Testing Centers – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino is alarmed by reports that some emission testing centers engage in illegal activities such as non-appearance scheme or ghost testing of motor vehicles in exchange for additional fees.

“There had been reports that the private and public emission testing centers in LTO are remiss in their duties in properly implementing the law through the issuance of false emission compliance certificates (ECCs),” Aquino said.

In line with this, Aquino filed a resolution seeking to look into the efficiency of emission testing centers in the issuance of ECC as one of the basic requirements of the Land Transportation Office before a vehicle is processed for renewal registration.

Aquino said illegal activities by some testing centers defeat the purpose of Republic Act 9749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act, which was passed in 1999 to maintain the quality of air and protect human life from the dangers of air pollution.

Under the Clean Air Act, a National Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program has been established to promote the efficient and safe operation of motor vehicles and ensure the reduction of emissions from motor vehicles.

As part of the program, vehicles are required to undergo inspection and maintenance program as a requisite for renewal of registration and mandatory inspection to determine compliance with the in-use emission standards.

“The national government should be able to provide a quick systematic solution to the proliferation of these false ECCs in order to promote overall motor vehicle safety and prescribe an intensive convergence program towards the full implementation of the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999,” Aquino said.

Aquino said continuing increase in motor vehicles, lack of mass public transit system, and worsening traffic conditions further contribute to increasing air pollution.

“Needless to state, all motor vehicles (MV) must comply with exhaust emission standards prior to registration and operation in public highways,” he said.

With the increasing air pollution, the Philippines is now ranked 114th in the recent Environmental Performance Index (EPI) report released by Yale University in terms of environmental performance of a state’s policies

In terms of air quality, the Philippines ranked 85th and 110th in health impacts.

According to latest data from the Department of Health (DOH), 60 percent of lung cancer cases and other respiratory related diseases in the Philippines are because of air pollution.



Big Data Center to Hasten Response in Disaster, Disease Breakouts – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino has filed a bill seeking to establish a Big Data Center that will hasten government’s response time during disasters and disease breakouts.

“If Big Data is available, government can be more responsive in real-time, especially during disasters,” Aquino said in Senate Bill 2214.

Through the Big Data Center, Aquino said pertinent information crucial to delivery of services during calamities could be facilitated and disseminated quickly.

“With the help of the Big Data Center, disaster response teams will be armed by important information and otherdata needed during emergency situations and calamities,” Aquino added.

Entitled the Big Data Act of 2014, the bill is calling for the establishment of a Big Data Center where large volume of datasets used for research and development and other important purposes will be facilitated and protected.

Aquino added the bill has enough security measures to ensure that data being stored will remain private and out of prying eyes.

“Now that information is almost open to anyone due to the advent of smartphones, Internet and other technology, the Big Data Center provides a blanket of protection on our privacy,” Aquino stressed.

In his measure, Aquino emphasized the need for a National Big Data Center where datasets whose “volume is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze within a tolerable elapsed period of time.”

“An establishment of a technology center that facilitates Big Data is proposed in order for policy and services to be more relevant to the changing needs of the people,” Aquino said.

At present, Aquino said Big Data from information-sensing smart phones, social media and the Internet, remote sensing and climate sensors is getting to be more and more available.

However, the senator very little has been done to create more value out of Big Data that will help policy makers to be more responsive to the needs of the public on near real time.

“The Philippine Big Data Center Bill proposes an infrastructure where Big Data is utilized for research and development, and invention and innovation,” he said.

According to the bill, the Center will be established to develop a range of standards and use software and other tools for analytics on massive amounts of data being generated from the use of Internet and other technology.

The Center will be responsible for disseminating the knowledge gained from its research activities to stakeholders in both the public and private sectors to strengthen policy making and industrial competitiveness.

Aquino said the passage of this bill would pioneer and institutionalize a technological breakthrough that supports public and private sectors and strengthens government’s efforts for more advanced, sustained and inclusive developmental progress.



Senator Bam Aquino’s Statement on the Price Increase of Garlic

The government should focus and expedite its investigation on the sudden rise of garlic prices. We must ensure that there’s no group or personality manipulating garlic prices.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) should conduct extensive monitoring to ensure the welfare of the buying public.

We must further intensify support to our garlic farmers to meet the country’s demand at an affordable price for consumers.

Let us not allow the interest of abusive personalities or groups to inflict further burden on our farmers and take away the hard-earned money of consuming public.

The DA should not only focus on garlic but on other agricultural products such as rice, onions, and chicken and pork.

Learn from P500B Yolanda Loss – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino is pushing for innovative, sustainable and cheaper ways to mitigate devastating impacts of natural disasters and calamities that usually lead to loss of lives, livelihood and income opportunities for businesses.

In his Senate Bill No. 2179 or the National Coastal Greenbelt Act of 2014, Aquino calls for the establishment of 100-meter greenbelts of mangroves and beach forests along coastlines to mitigate the devastating impacts of waves and storm surges.

“The establishment of science-based coastal greenbelts is expected to protect biodiversity, improve fisheries productivity, and enhance the tourism and livelihood potential of the area,” Aquino said.

Aquino made the proposal in the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda that killed thousands of people and left billions of pesos in damages in Eastern Visayas, particularly in Leyte.

“Aside from high number of casualties, the super typhoon also caused the shutdown of businesses and loss of jobs and other livelihood in devastated areas,” Aquino said.

The lawmaker stressed that the cost of establishing coastal greenbelts to protect against storm surge and tsunami would only be a fraction of the damages that could be brought by the yearly battering of typhoons.

“The Philippines is battered by more than 20 typhoons a year, with an increasing number in the super-typhoon category,” Aquino said.

“These could bring as much damage as Yolanda, which inflicted an economic loss of more than P500 billion.”

Compared to the cost of destruction brought by typhoons, Aquino said total valuation of mangroves is estimated at US$14,000-16,000 per hectare, of which about 80 percent is for coastal protection value.

Based on scientific studies, Aquino explained that a 100-meter greenbelt of mangroves could reduce wave height of wind and swell waves by 13-66 percent while storm surge can decrease by 5-50 centimeters per kilometer width of mangroves.

Also, surface wind waves can be reduced by more than 75 percent over one kilometer of mangroves while storm surges can be lessened by 50 percent by 7-kilometer band of mangroves.

Aquino added that coastal forests could reduce the force, depth and velocity of a tsunami, lessening damage to property and reducing loss of life.

“We set aside 130 billion pesos in the 2014 budget for the rehabilitation,” Aquino said.  “We should definitely set aside in the greening of our coastline.”

The bill also mandates the creation of the National Coastal Greenbelt Program shall provide the agency mandates, funding, and general guiding principles for implementing a science-based and cost-effective program.

Community Disaster Warehouses to Combat Hoarding, Price Manipulation – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino believes the establishment of community disaster warehouses is an effective way to combathoarding, price manipulation and inflation during calamities.

In his Senate Bill No. 2215, Aquino said community disaster warehouses would provide survivors of natural or man-made calamities quick access to affordable basic goods and other prime commodities.

“Community disaster warehouses will ensure that goods in the market would be available to avoid hoarding in affected areas and protect the survivors from price manipulation during times of crisis,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“This measure is important for the days and weeks right after the calamity for communities to be able to smoothly transition to rehabilitation mode and for people to start rebuilding and normalizing their lives,” the senator added.

Aquino stressed that every community in the country must be equipped and prepared for any disaster, including the immediate availability and delivery of basic goods.

“The first few days after storms or earthquakes hit are crucial in mitigating further tragedies to individuals and families,” said Aquino.

The senator added that the measure is important with the rainy season just weeks away.

The need for community disaster warehouses was underscored after super typhoon Yolanda devastated major parts of Eastern Visayas, including Leyte and Samar.

“Yolanda survivors needed to contend with an insurmountable shortage of food, clean water, medicine and first aid, and clothing to weather the storm,” the senator said.


Photo source: Twitter



Statement on Atty. Baligod’s statement that JLN pocketed P15B

The P2 billion that Janet Lim Napoles wants to return is nothing compared to what she earned from her illegal transactions with the government.

This is more than the P10 billion that was stolen from the public due to the PDAF scam. The amount doesn’t include properties purchased by Napoles using the public coffers.

We call on the government to hasten the trial of Napoles so that we can pinpoint and recover the money she pocketed from the government, up to the last centavo.


As Thousands Died, Investigate Seaworthiness of Maritime Vessels – Sen. Bam

Eight deadliest sea disasters happened in the country in the past two decades, including the worst maritime tragedy in history when MV Dona Paz collided with a tanker, killing more than 4,000 people in 1987.

A year after, MV Dona Marilyn, a sister ship of the ill-fated MV Dona Paz, sank after it was caught in Typhoon Unsang, killing 389 passengers.

In 1998, 150 passengers of MV Princess of the Orient perished after sank while sailing to Cebu during a typhoon off of Fortune Island in Batangas.

Also included in the list of maritime disasters were M/B Sunjay on January 15, 2006, M/B Leonida II on November 25, 2006, M/V Catalyn on June 10, 2007, M/V Blue Water Princess I on July 12, 2007 and M/V Don Wilfredo on February 14, 2008.

To avoid repeat of such incidents, Senator Bam Aquino calls for an investigation on the seaworthiness of maritime vessels to ensure safe and efficient operations and avoid maritime accidents as the country especially enters its rainy season.

“The national government has the duty to implement positive measures that can alleviate, if not resolve, the recurring maritime accidents over the past decades,” Aquino said in his resolution.

“It should give appropriate emphasis on the seaworthiness of the vessels being used by the shipping companies and must demonstrate stronger commitment in the effective implantation of the laws in order to safeguard the safety of the public,” he added.

Aquino said under the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, carriers are bound before and at the beginning of the voyage to exercise due diligence to make the ship seaworthy.

“For a vessel to be seaworthy, it must be adequately equipped for the voyage and manned with a sufficient number of competent officers and crew,” the senator said.

Failure of a common carrier to maintain in seaworthy condition the vessel involved in its contract of carriage is a clear breach of its duty prescribed in Article 1755 of the Civil Code.

“The public relies on the care and skill of common carriers in the vigilance over the goods and safety of the passengers, especially because transportation has become more rapid, more complicated and somehow more hazardous,” Aquino stressed.




Squeezed! Lemon Law Hurdles Bicam, Nears Enactment into Law

After years of waiting, a law that protects buyers from defective motor vehicles has finally been passed, Senator Bam Aquino announced.

The Senate has ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Philippine Lemon Law of 2014 before the body’s sine die adjournment Wednesday.

After that, it will be transmitted to Malacanang for President Aquino’s approval.

Earlier, the bicameral conference committee adopted the House version of the Lemon Law, authored by Las Pinas Rep. Mark Villar.

“The passage of the Lemon Law is crucial since owning a vehicle is crucial in today’s fast-paced life, especially for businessmen and entrepreneurs,” said Aquino, sponsor of the consolidated bill filed by Senators Cynthia Villar and Jinggoy Estrada.

“Aside from consumer protection, the Lemon Law will provide consistent standards of quality and performance in the auto industry,” he added.

The law calls for the return to consumer the full value of money if the motor vehicle that was bought would not be of standard and quality, 12 months or 20,000 kilometers from date of original delivery.

If the consumer remains unsatisfied with the efforts to the repair of the vehicle up to four times, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will exercise exclusive and original jurisdiction over disputes.

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