Month: August 2014

Probe Port Congestion Immediately! – Sen. Bam

Worried about its negative effect on prices of commodities and in the operations of local businesses, importers and exporters, Senator Bam Aquino has filed a resolution seeking a probe on the worsening cargo congestion at the Port of Manila.

 Aquino said the problem must be addressed quickly because the longer it sticks, prices of goods carried by importers and exporters will continue to rise.

“We will prolong the agony of the public if we will not help government agencies find ways to address the gridlock in the ports that led to untimely delays in shipment of goods, said Aquino.

In his Senate Resolution No. 809, Aquino stressed that delays in the cargo deliveries affected prices of agricultural products.

In addition, Aquino said even manufacturers of fresh produce couldn’t fully ship out the goods due to possible spoilage because of long queues in the ports.

“Because of this, the country’s exports have become highly uncompetitive,” added the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

The Bureau of Export Trade Promotion believes that its prediction of 5.8 percent to 7.2 percent in export growth rate is not feasible because of the problem.

“The decrease in trade volume affected the law on supply and demand, which resulted in abrupt price increases,” the senator said, adding that inefficient operations of the port had an adverse effect on free enterprise and competitiveness of Philippine goods.

Aquino earlier suggested to port authorities to look into the Ports of Batangas and Subic Bay as alternative cargo drop-off points.

The senator said Vietnam also had the same congestion problem but it was solved after it diverted cargo to new alternate ports of Ben Nghe and Phu Huu, aside from upgrading the Cat Lai port.

“With the upcoming ASEAN integration in 2015, there is a need to have immediate and long-term solutions to the problems on port congestion since the flow of goods had been restricted by the issuance of policy orders of different government agencies,” the senator said.

Ensure Safety of Students During Rainy Season – Sen. Bam to LGUs

With the onset of the rainy season, Senator Bam Aquino calls on local government units (LGUs) to declare cancellation of classes early to ensure safety of students.

“Safety of students must not be compromised so the announcement of cancellation of classes should be made early when there is a typhoon or heavy rains,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Youth.

 “There are cases where students are already in schools when the announcement was made, leaving them stranded for hours. When the rain stops, they have to wade through floods on their way home,” the senator added.

Aquino reminded LGUs that they now have the duty to suspend classes or work during storms and heavy rains, ender Sec. 2 of Executive Order 66 issued in 2012.

“Under the said EO, announcements will be made not later than 4:30 a.m. of the day of the intended cancellation of classes and work or not later than 11:00 a.m. for suspension of work and classes in the afternoon,” the senator emphasized.

The announcement may be coursed through diverse mass media, particularly radio and television, landline communications and other technologies for communication within the community or locality.

 Also, Aquino called on LGUs to cover open manholes and remove other road hazards such as protruding steel bars or other sharp objects so accidents will be avoided during floods and heavy rains.

“We must leave no stone unturned in ensuring the safety of our roads to avoid future accidents, especially to our students,” he stressed.

Transcript of Sen. Bam Aquino’s Interview Regarding the 2015 Budget

Maraming tao ang nakakalimot that the power of the purse is with the Congress and the Senate. At the end of the day, ang pag-submit ng executive sa amin is still up to our approval.

Even though in the past, masabi natin that they submit is very close to what comes out, there’s still that five-month process kung saan puwede talagang usisain ng bawat congressman at senador, siguraduhin na iyong mga priorities ng ating gobyerno at priorities ng ating bayan ay nagre-reflect sa ating budget.


Q: Gusto ng Palace na within six months na kapag hindi pa nagagamit ang funds ay puwede nang i-declare as savings.

A: I think we’ll be undergoing some deliberations on that. Kasama na rin ako sa nagtawag na we put to rest the issue and really define savings once and for all. If we’re able to define savings, really put guidelines there, iyong mga prosesong ganyan can actually be given more credibility and more legitimacy.

What happened doon sa DAP, na kung saan nagkaroon ng iba’t ibang interpretation ang branches of government, can be avoided. Kapag malinaw na talaga kung paano dine-declare ang savings, kung anong pondo ang puwedeng ideklarang savings, kailan ito dinedeklara.

I’m probably sure that throughout this budget process, there will be a parallel process calling for the definition of savings in the Congress.


Q: Malinaw naman sa GAA na dapat after one year, why redefine?

A: Maybe it’s not redefine. Maybe it’s going into further detail. Kasi iyong ibang mga nakita rin ng Supreme Court, baka nagkulang rin iyong GAA sa pagbibigay ng more detail sa proseso.

In the past, we left it to the executive to actually determine that. Not just in this administration but in the last.

Now that this controversy broke out, palagay ko the legislative can step in, define things further and make sure there will be no further conflicts of interpretation in the future.


Q: Hindi ba malinaw iyan na babangga dahil sinabi na sa GAA na after one year, then we can say its savings.

A: Hindi siya babangga because siyempre when you define something new, it supersedes everything in the past.

I think there’s a need to go into further detail doon sa proseso ng pag-declare ng savings at paggamit ng savings. That will I think at least put to rest a lot of these issues sa DAP and we can move with a clear understanding among all the parties.

I think kinakalimutan din ng tao na it’s the job of Congress and Senate define matters. The executive implements the law, the Supreme Court interprets the law but we actually define the laws.

So hindi rin naman masabi na remiss kami sa aming duty, so that we can actually stop any of these controversies from happening again, we should put it into law already and define it as clearly as possible and of course, make sure everyone follows the specifics of those laws.


Q: Compared sa mga nakaraang budget deliberations, mas magiging istrikto ba kayo this time?

A: Ako, istrikto naman ako even the last time.

Ang hinanap namin last time are all the budgets concerned with inclusive growth, support for micro entrepreneurs, tulong sa maliliit na negosyante sa ating bayan.

I think every senator who of course, has their own pet advocacies and areas of expertise, everyone will really be looking at the budget from that perspective and trying to see that there is money behind these priorities.

Para sa akin, we just passed the Go Negosyo Law noong July 15 and I don’t think that’s budgeted yet because nabuo ito (2015 budget) even before July.  So ako hahanapin ko iyon na itong batas na enacted na, although I have to admit ginagawa pa lang ang IRR, this law if this is passed in December, it will be after the IRR, so hahanapin ko dito na mayroong pondo para makatulong sa malilit na negosyante sa ating bayan.

That goes I think for every senator. Hahanapin talaga. We have senators who work for the environment, really focusing on education.

Each and everyone of us really need to look at this document and make sure na iyong pera ng bayan, napupunta talaga sa priorities ng ating bayan.


Q: Nasilip ninyo na ba iyong lump sum fund o malaking special purpose fund?

A: I saw it already. Actually if you go further doon sa bawat item, malinaw naman kung saan ito pupunta. May contingency fund, mayroong support for local governments, mayroong disaster, relief and rehabilitation fund.

I think iyong mga definition na iyon means that it can be used for that purpose, kaya siya special purpose. Malinaw kung saan paggagamitan. But you have to admit that those types of funds hindi mo puwedeng idetalye dahil hindi pa nangyayari ang disasters at pangangailangan ng local government.

For example, may nangyaring delubyo sa isang area or nagkaroon ng something very specific sa isang local government na masamang nangyari, they need to have some amount of funds to be able to support that area.

Palagay ko, there is still that need for some leeway and for some space. We’ll just have to make sure na hindi siya kalakihan at kahit papaano, accountable ka pa rin sa pondong iyon.


Q: Some leeway meaning?

A: Some leeway, meaning there are some things that happen throughout the year and therefore we need to also trust the executive to be able to use the fund properly.  As much as you want to detail it, talagang may mga bagay-bagay talaga na maiiwan talaga siya sa special purpose.

But if you look at the development of the budget through the years, makikita mo talaga na kumokonti talaga itong mga lump sum. In fact, in the last year’s budget, I remember one of the senators asking na ayaw lang namin iyong classroom, gusto namin talaga pag tinanong ka sa hearing, puwede mong idetalye kung saan classroom ito pupunta o kung anong classroom ang bubuuin.

That goes for most of the budget items but of course, there will always be some level of leeway given to the executive. But I think if we look at other items that in the past are lump sums, these days mayroon ka nang performance based budgeting, mayroong kang targets na nakadikit, mayroong kang outcome na ini-expect per line item.

I think these are reforms that we also need to acknowledge na malayo na rin ang narating ng budget na ito. You’ve been covering this for so many years, I’m sure mapi-pinpoint ninyo ang pinagkaiba ng budget na ito doon sa budgets in the past.


Q: May unlimited pork daw sa budget na ito. Sinasabi ng mga solons na bottomless pork nga daw ang nakalagay.

A:  Wala akong nakitang item na bottomless pork but I guess you really have to understand the different roles of each of the branches of government.

Bakit masama ang pork barrel sa legislators. Masama ang pork barrel sa legislators because we are not implementors. We make the laws, we don’t implement the law.

But when you talk about project funds or funds na gagamitin mo para mag-implement, of course nasa executive iyan, di ba.

To actually equate a pork barrel, medyo confusing iyon, or they’re trying to confuse the issue there. I will have to agree, pagdating sa pork barrel sa legislators, hindi talaga iyon dapat sa amin.

But if you’re talking about funds to build bridges, build roads that should really be with the executive dahil iyon ang trabaho nila. Trabaho namin ang gumawa ng batas at hindi mag-implement ng proyekto.


Q: Ano ang safeguards to make sure magagamit ang lump sum nang maayos?

A: Kapag nag-he-hearing ka, kailangan mong tanungin kung saan mo nagamit iyan last year.  And if you feel that wasn’t used properly, babawasan mo ang budget. At the end of the day, iyong kapangyarihan ng bawat senador at congressman, kung tingin namin hindi importante ang isang bagay, puwede mong i-zero budget iyan o lessen the budget. That again goes back to the power of the purse of the legislative.

When you look at the budget process, siguro ang isang maganda na rin sa mga kontrobersiyang ito, napag-uusapan ano ba iyong papel ng bawat sangay ng gobyerno.

In our case, its our responsibility is to make sure that every single budget item here is really towards the priorities of the people at hindi sa priorities ng iilang tao lang or pabor lang sa kokonting tao.

This should be in favor of the majority of the Filipino people.  That’s what we will to make sure through this five-month or six-month process.


Q: Nagwo-worry daw kayo na magkaroon ng illegal insertions, what do you mean by that sir?

A: Again in the process of this budget pag may nakapasok diyan, kailangan pati iyon usisain natin. We need to make sure it goes to the right process. Once this is signed and put into law, every congressman, every senator, nandito ang mga pangalan at pirma namin.

We need to be proud of this document and we need to be sure that every single peso here does go to the people.

And if it doesn’t go to the people, that’s where the judiciary comes in, that’s where our investigations come in and that’s where you make sure iyong accountability naman ng executive sa paggamit ng perang ito.


Q: Illegal insertions, what do you mean by that?

A: Every single item there, dapat may justification iyan. Dapat pabor iyan sa karamihan ng Pilipino. Dapat tumutulong iyan sa mahihirap sa ating bansa. If there’s anything new that comes here, dapat pasok pa rin sa criteria na iyon.

Na walang masisingit diyan na para lang sa iilang tao, or pabor sa mga pekeng NGO. We need to make sure that each item here does indeed go to the benefit of the Filipino people.


Q: Mas strict ba kayo ngayon after DAP and PDAF issues?

A: Even last time, medyo istrikto naman kami. I’m hoping now ang taumbayan natin makikilahok. When the budget season happens, it’s a lengthy process here in the Senate and Congress.

Usually inaabot tayo ng umaga diyan, Kayo rin inaabot in the wee hours of the morning. I think, with all of these controversies, panahon na ang taumbayan natin get involved in the process. If I’m not mistaken, this should be uploaded already sa Internet.

Usisain ng taumbayan at tingnan talaga nila. Let them be involved in the process and make this a participatory type of budget process. Ang mga senador naman, nakikinig iyan sa taumbayan.

Lets go over it. Huwag nating payagan na iyong mga usual komentarista lang or ang oposisyon o administrasyon lang ang nagsasalita. Let people go over it and tingnan talaga nila iyong mga pangangailangan ng ating lugar, ng aking komunidad, naso-solve ba ng budget na ito. That’s why we have public hearings and long process to allow people to come in also and be part of this process.

I’m hoping with all of these controversies, magkakaroon ng partisipasyon ang taumbayan natin dito. Ako naman, if we look at the priorities, I’m hoping that the top priorities — education, health, support services and of course, my own advocacy, which is support for our micro and small entrepreneurs.

Iyong tulong sa mahihirap sa ating bayan, hopefully makita rin natin na tuluy-tuloy ang tulong na ito and its really felt by the people.

Scroll to top