Month: January 2015

Sponsorship Speech on Access of Foreign Ships to Domestic Ports Bill

Senate Bill No. 2486 under Committee Report No. 91
An Act Exempting Carriage of Container Vans from the Provision of Section 1009 of Presidential Decree No 1464, otherwise known as the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978 and for other Purposes

 Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV
16th Congress, Senate of the Philippines
Sponsorship Speech, 28 January 2015

Good afternoon, Mr. President, my distinguished colleagues, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan.

It is my great privilege to stand before you today to support the development of the Philippine martitime transport industry, as I sponsor Senate Bill No. 2486, under Committee Report No. 91, entitled An Act Exempting Carriage of Container Vans from the Provision of Section 1009 of Presidential Decree No 1464, or otherwise known as the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978 and for other Purposes, otherwise known as Access of Foreign Ships to Domestic Ports Bill.

Given that the Philippines is an archipelago composed of more than 7,100 islands, the transport of goods relies heavily on sea routes interconnecting the islands.  Shipping costs impact the movement of trade goods, and more importantly, the price that consumers will ultimately pay for.

Currently, inter-island shipping is exclusively reserved for ships bearing the Philippine flag. Internationally, this principle is known as the Cabotage Principle, which is implemented to protect the country’s local shipping industry.

Unfortunately, this exclusive right incurs an extra cost for our importers of raw materials and for Philippine exporters of goods. Thus, we are pushing today for allowing foreign ships coming from international ports to dock into multiple ports all over the country.

This reform will provide our producers and entrepreneurs the following benefits and these are: 1) the lowering of production costs; 2) the easing of doing business in the maritime transport industry; 3) the decongestion of the Manila Port; and 4) the further leveraging of our strategic location in the ASEAN market.

Mr. President, the change that we are proposing today is part of a larger effort in reforming our shipping industry to be more modern, more equipped and more competitive with our ASEAN neighbors.

The reforms also involve an establishment of a better regulatory framework that will ensure that foreign ships will only carry goods that are going in and out of the country.

Lower Production Costs

Firstly, the state think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) emphasizes the need for a comprehensive review and amendments to the Cabotage policy of the country to lower local shipping costs.

Sa kasalukuyan, ang isang exporter mula Cagayan de Oro na nagpapadala ng kargamento papuntang Hong Kong ay kailangang magbayad ng dalawang beses: US$1,120.00 para sa biyahe ng kanyang kargamento mula CDO papuntang Maynila sa isang lokal na barko at US$144.00 pa para sa biyaheng Maynila papuntang Hong Kong sa isang dayuhang barko. 

Ang total shipping cost ng ating exporter sa kasulukuyang pamamaraan ay US$1,264.00.

Kung ipapasa natin ang ating reporma ngayon, ang ating exporter ay magbabayad na lamang ng US$500.00 para sa isang dayuhang barkong didiretso mula CDO papuntang Hong Kong.

 Ang US$764.00 na matitipid ng isang exporter ay maaaring magamit upang mas mapaganda pa ang kaniyang produkto, mas mapalaki pa ang kanyang kapital, at mas mapalago pa ang negosyo nang mas makapagbigay pa siya ng mas maraming trabaho sa kaniyang komunidad.

Ganoon din para sa ating mga importer ng raw materials.  Ang ating importer mula CDO ay kailangang magbayad ng dalawang beses para sa kanyang kargamento: US$159.00 para sa biyahe ng kanyang kargamento mula Kaohsiung sa Taiwan papuntang Maynila sa isang dayuhang barko at US$1,120.00 para sa biyaheng Maynila papuntang CDO sa isang lokal na barko.

Ang total shipping cost ng ating importer sa kasulukuyang pamamaraan ay US$1,279.00.

Kung ipapasa natin ang ating reporma ngayon, ang ating importer ay magbabayad na lamang ng US$360.00 para sa isang dayuhang barkong didiretso mula Taiwan hanggang CDO.

Ang US$919.00 na matitipid ng ating importer ay maaaring magamit upang makabili pa siya ng mas maraming raw materials o di kaya ay mapababa ang presyo ng kanyang binebentang mga produkto sa merkado.

Ayon naman sa Joint United States Government and Government of the Philippines Technical Team, mas mahal ng dalawang daan at limampung (250) porsiyento ang halaga ng lokal na shipping cost kumpara sa Indonesia kada nautical mile.

Ang mga numerong ito ay hindi katanggap-tanggap dahil ang halaga ng shipping costs ay ikakarga lang ng mga negosyante sa kanilang gastusin, at sa huli ay papasanin din ng ating mga mamimili.

Ease of Doing Business

Secondly, Mr. President, although co-loading of goods is already allowed as a practice in the market, the processing of documents and getting clearance from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is necessary to allow foreign cargoes to co-load foreign containers in multiple ports.

To avail of a special permit from MARINA, foreign shipping companies usually take 15 days or more for their papers to be processed. Hence, most foreign shipping agencies would rather avoid this particular step to be more efficient and productive.  In practice, they choose to have a transshipment point rather than get a clearance from MARINA.

For example, instead of dropping cargoes in Manila, securing the necessary approvals and documents, and then, carrying the same set of cargoes themselves to other local ports, foreign ships just choose to drop off their cargoes in Manila.  Then, the cargoes are picked up by local ships to be transported to other domestic ports in the country.

With our proposal, we aim to streamline our processes, make our ports more efficient and easier for doing business.

Thus, if there is a foreign cargo that is intended to be shipped to Manila and Cagayan de Oro, the foreign ship that carries the said cargo, with our reform, will be allowed to go directly to Manila, then CDO instead of the present procedure of unloading in Manila first, then transhipping its goods to a local carrier to CDO.

In the same way, our entrepreneurs who are exporting goods from Subic, Cebu, CDO and Davao, would be able to co-load in one ship before heading out of the country directly in a more efficient and cost-effective manner, instead of, again, having to pass by Manila.

The bill encourages for our micro, small and medium entrepreneurs to think globally since importing raw materials and exporting Filipino goods would be cheaper.

Addressing the Manila Port Congestion

Thirdly, we learned from our recent investigations and hearings that the Manila International Container Terminals (MICT) and the Manila South Harbor, the main hubs for transshipments in the country, have been experiencing congestion in the past few months.

Almost all of the goods in the country are shipped to MICT and to the Manila South Harbor.  Last December, these ports operated at an average level of 75-85%, which is more than the ideal 60% serviceable level.

By allowing foreign ships to go directly to other domestic ports around the country, it will free up space in the container yards in the Greater Manila Area.  This will save time, costs and energy for our exporters and importers in sending their raw materials, and goods and products in and out of the country.

In addition, by allowing more foreign ships to dock on other ports all over the country, there will be an increased economic activity in the countryside.  This will lead to growth for businesses and entrepreneurs in the regions, and more jobs for our Filipino people.  It will then bring us a step closer from achieving our dream of inclusive growth for our countrymen.


Leveraging on the Country’s Strategic Location

And lastly, Mr. President, we need these reforms as part of a larger effort to further capitalize our strategic location in the ASEAN market.

South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs published a report entitled, “Formulating an ASEAN Single Shipping Market Implementing Strategy,” which mentions the Philippines’ low investment in ports and road infrastructure, which hampers the promotion of intermodal transport.

The study concludes that our country’s strong cabotage policy that only allows foreign-flag vessels to call at one Philippine port, hinders our economic development.

The report stresses that foreign ships docking on various ports all over the country is needed for the country to achieve sustainable growth, and more importantly, to achieve a single ASEAN market.

In line with the ASEAN Economic Integration this year, the region will be implementing a single shipping market where member-countries are expected to deliver quality service at a competitive price.

Mr. President, kapag ito’y tuluyang naipatupad, mahalaga na magkaroon ng sapat at maayos na imprastruktura at mga pasilidad sa pantalan, magagandang kalsada para sa mas mabilis na paghahatid ng produkto, at higit sa lahat, mababang presyo ng pagpapadala ng mga kargamento.

Kailangan nating makapagpatayo ng mga pantalang na kayang makipagsabayan sa mga pantalan ng Singapore, Thailand at Indonesia – mga modernong pantalan na sytematic at computerized, na kayang mapabilis ang mga pagpoproseso ng mga dokumento at galaw ng mga kargamento.

 Kasama ng repormang ito ang ating pagkilos para hindi na maulit ang pagsisikip ng ating mga pantalan.  Sinimulan na ang NLEX-SLEX connector road upang lalong maibsan ang traffic sa Kamaynilaan at mapabilis ang galaw ng mga kargamento papuntang hilaga o timog Luzon.

Ang pagpapatuloy ng mga repormang ito ang mga hamon na ating kakaharapin sa mga susunod na buwan. Napakahalaga na maabot natin ang mga ito upang makasabay tayo sa mga kapitbahay nating bansa na may mas moderno at mas maayos na sistema sa kanilang mga pantalan.

It will be a win-win situation for both our importers and exporters.

Dadami at mas magmumura ang pagpasok ng raw materials mula sa ibang bansa na mapoproseso ng ating mga kumpanya rito.  

Mas magiging mura ang halaga ng pag-export ng ating mga produkto sa merkado ng mundo.

Sa mas efficient na maritime transport industry, patuloy na tataas ang kalidad ng produkto at serbisyo, patuloy na bababa ang presyo, at ang taumbayan ang siyang panalo.

As we continue to develop from a low-income to a middle-income economy, we need to revisit our policy environment to be able to support this growth that we are experiencing as a country.

This is our first response to the call of the President and various stakeholders to enhance the Philippine maritime transport industry.

This is our first step in our effort to further unlock the industry, let it grow and thrive, and make it as efficient as possible as we anticipate more trade, more economic activity, and real inclusive growth for the Filipino people.

Nang dumating ang mga unang Malay sa ating mga baybayin mula Borneo, nakasakay sila sa mga sinaunang bangka na ang tawag ay balangay. Sa balangay natin hinango ang barangay, na siya nating kinikilala bilang ang ating pormal na komunidad.

Dala-dala ang mga produktong kopra, mais at iba pa, sinuong natin ang karagatan para maabot ang iba’t ibang isla.  Sa karagatan natin nabuo ang ating mga komunidad. Sa paglalayag natin nabuo ang ating bansa. 

At sa reporma na tinutulak natin ngayon, maisasakay natin ang ating mga pamilya, mga komunidad at ang ating buong lipunan sa mga bangkang  patungo sa magandang kinabukasan.

Mga kaibigan, bumibiyahe na tayo ngayon tungo sa kaunlaran.  Iniimbitahan ko kayong lahat na patuloy tayong magtulungan, sama-samang magsagwan upang mabigyang pagkakataon ang mga negosyo ng ating mga kababayan na lumago at makipagsabayan sa mundo.

Dahil ito po ang tamang panahon sa pag-ahon natin bilang isang bansa at marating natin ang baybayin ng kasaganaan para sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino. Maraming salamat po at magandang hapon sa ating lahat!

Transcript of Sen. Bam Aquino’s Interview on the Internet, SK and BBL

On the Slow and Expensive Internet


Q: Sir how likely iyong pino-propose na one-stop shop?

A: Iyan ang commitment ng NTC na mag-one-stop shop sila dahil lumabas sa ating hearing na ang isang telco ay mangangailangan ng sixteen steps, maybe six to seven national government agencies, pati iyong local government permits napakatagal it takes about six months to get any permit para makapagtayo ng tower (cell site) o ng infrastructure.

Alam natin na kapag dumadami ang infrastructure natin, mas bibilis iyong Internet connection natin.

Tinalakay natin sa hearing ngayon kung paano pabilisin ang proseso, push for ease of doing business at magkaroon ng very real solution to increasing our Internet speed.

On the side of DILG, nag-commit sila na kausapin iyong mga liga, cities, municipalities at provinces para maging standard ang mga fees na sinisingil at mga proseso para makakuha ng permit ang ating mga telcos.

Ang NTC naman, nag-commit sila na simulan iyong proseso ng pagbuo ng isang one-stop shop para lahat ng ahensiyang kinakailangan para magtayo ng towers, sa kanila na lang pupunta at kukunin ang permits na iyon.

Lumalabas na DENR, DOE, DPWH, DOH, all of these agencies ay kailangang puntahan para makapagtayo ng isang Internet facility.

We’re hoping na mapabilis ang proseso and this can be one of the solutions para mapabilis ang Internet speed sa Pilipinas.

Q: Ibig sabihin, magmumura rin ang rate ng Internet?

A: Not necessarily. This hearing was not on the rates.

This was on pagtulak ng infrastructure para magkaroon ng maraming towers at mga facilities para bumilis ang ating internet speed.

Q: May agreement na ba sa minimum speed?

A: That was the subject of our NTC hearing noong November.

The second hearing will be in February kaya hinihikayat natin ang mga kababayan natin to follow live on Twitter.  Nila-live tweet natin ang NTC hearings.

Iyong second hearing nila will be on Feb. 16 at iyong paglabas ng kanilang memo circular will be in March.

Ang maganda po riyan, naging bukas ang NTC na tanggapin ang suggestions ng civil society partners at iba pang netizens upang magkaroon ng totoo at tamang batayan sa Internet speed.

Ang naging contention po ngayon, wala pong opisyal na batayan sa ating Internet speed.

Kapag lumabas po iyon, puwede nang ibangga iyong opisyal na speed na iyon sa nakalagay sa advertisements natin kung naaabot ba ang naka-advertise na bilis sa nakukuha ng consumer.

Q: Ano ba dapat ang bilis?

A: Dapat nakukuha mo ang binabayaran mo. In short, kung five dapat five. Pag sinabing ten dapat 10. Kapag sinabing one, one lang diyan dahil ang assumption ay mura ang binabayaran mo.

Iyong mahalaga, and this is why it becomes a consumer issue kaya sa committee on trade, na iyong binabayaran ng ating mga kababayan ay nakukuha ang katumbas.

Hindi puwedeng mataas ang binabayaran tapos ang nakukuha ay substandard.


On the Sangguniang Kabataan Reforms


Q: Iyon pong sa SK, may hearing sa Congress mamaya. Kailan po ang naka-schedule na pagdedeliberate dito?

A: Ongoing na po iyan. Iyong SK reform bill nakahain na po iyan sa plenaryo and we’re hoping by March, maipasa na natin ang SK reform bill.

Ang panawagan namin sa Kongreso, at natutuwa naman kaming pumayag sila, ay sabay ang pagpasa at postponement ng SK reform bill.

Kung ipo-postpone lang po natin iyan na walang kasiguruhan kung kailan ang next election at walang nabago sa sistema, hindi po maganda iyan.

Ang main na panawagan namin sa Kongreso, this quarter we pass both the postponement and the SK reform bill, para pagbalik ng SK come 2016 kasabay ng barangay election, nakareporma na ito at bago na ang patakaran niya.

Specifically, gusto naming itaas iyong age ng SK officials mula 15 to 17 na aminado tayong lahat na masyadong bata to 18 to 24.

Magkaroon ng isang anti-dynasty provision na bawal maging SK chairman at mga kagawad ang mga anak ng barangay captain at barangay kagawad. I think malaking reporma ito.

Pangatlo, iyong mandatory training na kailangang dumaan sa tamang training ang lahat ng uupo sa SK para alam talaga nila ang patakaran ng good governance at patakaran ng pag-handle ng budget.

Pang-apat, ang pagsama ng iba pang youth organizations sa municipal council o iyong tinatawag nating local youth development council. Nakita natin na maraming kabataan na nagpa-participate pero hindi bilang SK, pero bilang council leader, bilang volunteer sa NGO o bilang volunteer sa kanilang simbahan.

Iyong structure na iyon ay dapat sumuporta din doon sa SK na bumubuo iyong local youth council na bubuuin ng iba’t ibang youth leaders at volunteers.

Ito ang apat na main reforms natin sa SK na gustong itulak para pagbalik po ng SK natin, hopefully, isa na itong body that we can really be proud of at talagang maaabot ang hangaring makatulong sa kabataan.

On the Basic Bangsomoro Law


Q: With recent developments, are you withdrawing support behind BBL? 

A: I think we should still pursue the BBL, in light of all the things that happened. Tatalakayin, kung hindi ako nagkakamali, sa susunod na linggo ang nangyari sa Maguindanao. I think all of us are interested to know kung bakit nangyari iyon, ano ang mga dahilan kung bakit tayo umabot doon.

Coming from that hearing, I’m sure na magkakaroon ng revision or amendments sa BBL. Remember we are still in the process of deliberation.

Iyong porma ng BBL, magbabago pa iyan. I think it’s premature to just say wag na lang.

Kung kailangang amyendahan iyan o baguhin iyan because of what happened, then gawin natin iyon. That’s the process of legislation.

Ang mahirap lang kasi ay papakawalan na natin agad. Hindi siya either or. Hindi ibig sabihin na papakawalan natin ito dahil nangyari ito or the other way around.

Mahalagang imbestigahan natin. We find out what really happened. Managot ang dapat managot.

Ask the difficult questions. At the same time, tingnan natin iyong kalalabasan noon doon sa BBL process natin.

I’m just hoping na huwag tayong magkaroon ng gut reaction na pakawalan agad natin dahil because of what happened. At the same time, alamin natin kung ano ba ang nangyari talaga and of course, iyong mga dapat managot, talagang managot sila.

People died. Ang daming namatay na kapulisan natin. Hindi puwedeng mawala na lang iyon. That has to be investigated, and if there charges that have to be filed, they have to be filed.




Q: How should we address ang demoralization among members ng SAF?

A: That’s why we will have that hearing next week. Hindi katanggap-tanggap na in the midst of peace process na nangyari ang isang bagay na iyon.

We need to find what really happened. At kung may mga taong dapat managot dahil diyan, dapat managot talaga sila.

Q: There were reports that the suspended PNP was behind the operation?

A: I don’t know the inside story kaya tayo mag-iimbestiga para malaman talaga natin.

Q: Sa rules, puwede pa ba siyang mag-command kahit suspended siya?

A: I don’t know the specific rules ng PNP, but ako like all of you, I’m very interested to join the hearing and participate so we can get to the bottom of this.

Q: You’re among those who signed BBL – 

A: Yes. I’m not withdrawing. As I said we should continue the process. Hindi ibig sabihin na ipagpapatuloy ang proseso na we will sweep this under the rug.

We have to contend with what happened in Maguindanao. Napakaraming pamilya ang nawalan ng breadwinners, mga ama.

That has to be settled and we have to find out what really happened. And that can be done through the investigations here.

I predict na because of that, there will be amendments or changes na mangyayari sa BBL. I just think that it’s a gut reaction to let go of the peace process right after this tragedy had happened.

Magandang pag-usapan na muna kung anong nangyari, imbestigahan, charged those who need to be charged. Get to the bottom of things and then see paano mababago ang BBL because of that.

Palagay ko, ang hangarin natin na magkaroon ng kapayapaan, hindi dapat maantala dahil sa nangyaring trahedya.

Q: Ano ang tingin niyo na possible impact if lawmakers decide not to pass the BBL?

A: Iyong goals ng BBL na magkaroon ng peace and development sa Mindanao, hindi matutuloy. This is a landmark legislation, a landmark move of our country.

It has the potential to change the way our country is. I’m hoping na we find out what really, charged those who need to be charged, matulungan natin iyong pamilya ng mga namatayan.

At the same time, see if the BBL needs to be changed or modified because of that and we move from there. Pero sana iyong hangarin na magkaroon ng kapayapaan dahil sa batas, hindi mawala at hindi tayo mawalan ng momentum doon  sa pagtulak nito.

At the same time rin, hindi rin natin dapat madaliin. We cannot also rush an important legislation.

I predict that we will go through the investigations, magkakaroon ng mga amendments pero iyong hangarin natin, dapat ituloy pa rin natin.

Q: Matutuloy po ba ang timeframe niya?


A: I doubt that it will be passed by March.

Again, the committees are still hearing it. Hindi ganoon kabilis ang pangyayari, especially sa ganito katindi at kahalagang lehislasyon.

So I’m still hoping we can get it passed this year. Pero sana huwag nating pakawalan o huwag tayong bumitiw ng basta-basta.

Statement of Sen. Bam Aquino on the Encounter of the PNP-SAF with MILF

We deeply condole with the families of the Philippine National Police (PNP) officers who perished in Sunday’s clash with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Maguindanao.

The PNP leadership must ensure that the benefits of these fallen police officers will be provided to their families the soonest possible time.

At the same time, the PNP must launch a thorough investigation into the incident and find ways to avoid similar encounters in the future.

The lives of our police officers must not be compromised. Both parties must account for the lives lost.

We must not allow this tragedy to be an obstacle to our efforts for lasting peace in Mindanao.

Privilege Speech: Accepting Pope Francis’ Challenge

Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV

16th Congress, Senate of the Philippines

Privilege Speech, 26 January 2015


Accepting Pope Francis’ Challenge


Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan. I rise today on a matter of personal and collective privilege, with an inspired spirit and renewed energy, to build a better Philippines hand-in-hand with every Filipino.

It has been one week since His Holiness Pope Francis left our humbled shores after spending five blessed days in our country.  During this time, Pope Francis captivated the nation and inspired the people with his charming smile and gestures of gratitude, humility and empathy. People are clearly inspired.

Mr. President, thousands of Filipinos lined his path, with some going to great lengths and enormous sacrifices just to simply catch a glimpse of the Holy Father. Libu-libong mga pamilyang Pilipino / ang naghintay nang ilang oras upang makilahok sa mga events ni Pope Francis[1].

 Kabilang na riyan si Mang Antolin Adlawan. Sa kabila ng kanyang edad na animnapu’t anim na taon ay naglakad siya ng tatlumpu’t anim na araw patungong Tacloban para lang makadalo sa misa ng Santo Papa[2].

Sa misa sa Luneta, anim na milyong Pilipino ang dumalo sa gitna nang malakas na ulan, sama-samang nakinig sa mensahe ng Santo Papa at nagdasal para sa ating mga pamilya at buong bayan[3].

 Undeniably, Pope Francis has given many of us the precious gift of inspiration, through his words and his being. The challenge for us now is to turn Pope Francis’ messages into action and make his calls into reality that will benefit our countrymen, especially the poor and marginalized.




Mr. President, I’d like to highlight three themes from his life and advocacy that we can emulate and translate in our own lives and to our own work as well – and these are a life of simplicity, a heart of inclusiveness, and a renewed vigor to ensure the dignity of the poor.


A Life of Simplicity

Kilala si Jorge Mario Bergoglio sa kanyang simpleng pamumuhay, kahit noong siya pa ay ang Arsobispo ng Buenos Aires sa Argentina.

Sumasakay lamang siya ng bus at di gumagamit ng mamahaling sasakyan sa pang-araw-araw. Nakatira siya sa isang maliit na apartment na puwede namang mas magarbo ang kanyang tahanan dahil isa siyang arsobispo.

Nang mahirang bilang Santo Papa, pinili niya ang pangalang Francis bilang pagbibigay pugay kay St. Francis of Assisi, na santo ng mahihirap at nangangailangan.

When Pope Francis addressed the Roman Curia last December, he talked about a “disease of hoarding[4],” and even said: “Accumulating goods only burdens and inexorably slows down the journey!”

His call for a simple and plain lifestyle is indeed an example for all of us to look at our own lives and appreciate the things and the blessings that we have had.


The challenge for us, public servants and leaders is to “uphold the public interest over and above personal interest,” and to “lead modest lives appropriate to their positions… not [to] indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form[5].”  These phrases are from RA 6713.


President Aquino’s leadership emphasized the eradication of the wang-wang culture, “the image of blaring, much-abused sirens, to symbolize all things corrupt and crooked in Philippine politics.”


The call for simplicity is not for simplicity sake. Rather, it is a challenge for our leaders not to be separate from those that they serve. The call for simplicity must go beyond the superficial and symbolic. It is a mindset, which roots leaders with the people they serve.  It is a constant reminder for empathy – to feel what most feel, so that the decisions we make will always be for the many and not the few.




A Heart of Inclusiveness

Secondly, the Pope calls for us to be inclusive and, as he instructed cardinals last year, “to fight any discrimination[6].”


Mr. President, during Maundy Thursday of last year, Pope Francis broke tradition when he washed and kissed the feet of 12 persons with disability for the Washing of the Feet ritual[7]. Several of them were women and another man, was a Muslim.


Pope Francis reminds us that we live in a world that is as diverse as it is magnificent; and that though Filipinos have differing beliefs and varying perspectives, we are united by our dream to build this country.


Kung naaalala po ninyo ang sinabi niya sa mga kabataang Pilipino sa UST, “women have much to tell us in today’s society[8].” Sa mata ng Santo Papa, maging ano pa ang iyong kasarian, relihiyon at estado sa buhay, dapat pantay ang pagtrato at may boses sa lipunan ang lahat.


Our colonial past and rich history, where our Malay roots have been mixed with Chinese, Spanish, American, and even Indian and Mediterranean decent, have made our culture into a melting pot of diverse ways, values and norms.


Add the fact that a tenth of Pinoys are living and working abroad, we, Filipinos, are a truly global, genuinely accepting and accommodating people.


Thus, we call on all Filipinos today to go back to who we are, and further create a kinder and gentler nation – a more forgiving and compassionate people that care for each and every Filipino, regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, civil status, age or medical condition.





A Renewed Vigor to Ensure the Dignity of the Poor

Lastly, Mr. President, the Holy Father emphasized his call to be at the forefront of eradicating poverty, to be at the peripheries, to be at the margins of development. He has challenged us to re-examine our Christian faith and lifestyle.


Even before he was Pope, he pushed for jobs and enterprises with his work in the slums of Argentina. The real Buneos Aires was a far cry from the beauty that we see in movies. The city slums, known as villas of misery, are so savage that even ambulances and police have refused to enter[9].


Among the Pope’s parishioners were unemployed and hungry. Teenage pregnancies were rampant while drug users and criminals roamed the villas[10].


As Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, Padre Bergolio then worked to revive and invigorate the Catholic movement in the villas. From a few priests, he doubled the number of priests in the area. His parishes started programs to rehabilitate and uplift the poor of Buneos Aires.


They built a recovery center for drug addicts, a high school and a technical vocational school, farms where addicts worked and lived, a home for the elderly and children, and a community radio and newspaper[11] to give the people in the margins a voice.


One of the Jesuit charisms is “to go where there is the greatest need[12]” – to be at the frontiers of development, to be with the most vulnerable and suffering. This is the call that we must heed – helping our countrymen means going beyond the common understanding of charity.  It is restoring the dignity of the poor and providing the opportunity of earning for themselves and their families.


Mr. President, in solidarity with the Pope’s call to build a Church of the poor and for the poor, we must ensure that the Philippine government is a government completely and utterly focused on fighting poverty and providing opportunities for our countrymen.


We need to ensure that as we establish the K-12 system in our basic education, our young Filipinos will have the right knowledge, skills and attitudes that will make them competitive in the job market not only in the country, but in the ASEAN region and in the world as well.


It is our fervent hope that the families under the 4Ps program will graduate from just being beneficiaries.  And that the Sustainable Livelihood Program will be given more emphasis as our countrymen strive to overcome poverty.


Let us help in organizing our farmers and fisherfolk, provide the right technical assistance and access to capital, link them to proper markets, and help them break free from the cycle of poverty.


In addition, we must also be able to support institutions / that help our poor communities as well – microfinance organizations, cooperatives, social enterprises, and inclusive businesses.


The call is to make our dream for our people to be able to stand on their own feet, provide food for their families, send their children to school, and build lasting homes a reality.




The Pope’s visit to the Philippines can remain a record-breaking event, a fond memory we cast to history, or we can turn it into something even more substantial.  All of us, together, have the power to make this year’s Papal Visit a major turning point for our country.


As we bid farewell to our cherished Pope Francis, let us reflect on how each of us can personally contribute to improving the lives of our fellow Filipinos. Each of us has a role to play. Each of us has the opportunity to make a difference. Each of us can be that agent of change.


Now, we have been blessed with both the instruction and the inspiration to do so. Concrete action and palpable change are the greatest gifts we can give Pope Francis.


Let’s make him proud.  At bigyan po natin siya ng panibagong dahilan upang bumalik sa Pilipinas!


Maraming salamat at magandang hapon sa ating lahat!



[1] Lozada, David. 16 January 2015. “Families Tell Tales of Sacrifice, Hope to Meet Pope Francis.” Accessed via last 21 January 2015.

[2] Alamar, Noel. 16 January 2015. ABS-CBN News. “This Man Walked for 36 Days just to See Pope in Tacloban.” Accessed via last 21 January 2015.

[3] Hegina, Aries Joseph. 18 January 2015. Philippine Daily Inquirer. “MMDA: 6M Filipinos Attended Pope Francis’ Luneta Mass, Papal Route.” Accessed via last 21 January 2015.

[4] Address of His Holiness Pope Francis. “Presentation of the Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia. 22 December 2014. Accessed via last 25 January 2015

[5] Civil Service Commission. Republic Act No. 6713: An Act Establishing A Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, to Uphold the Time-Honored Principle of Public Office being a Public Trust, Granting Incentives and Rewards for Exemplary Service, Enumerating Prohibited Acts and Transactions and Providing Penalties for Violations thereof and for other Purposes. Accessed via last 25 January 2015.

[6] Gibson, David. 22 February 2014. Religion News Service. “Pope Francis Charges Cardinals to Oppose ‘Any Discrimination.” Accessed via last 21 Janaury 2015.

[7] Davies, Lizzy. 17 April 2014. The Guardian. “Pope Francis Kisses Feet of Women and Muslim Man in Maundy Thursday Rite.” Accessed via last 25 January 2015.

[8] 18 January 2015. “Where are the Women, Pope Francis Asks UST.” Accessed via last 25 January 2015.

[9] Cohen, Haley. 20 March 2013. The Atlantic. “Slum Priests: Pope Francis’s Early Years.” Accessed via last 25 January 2015.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Allen, John, Jr. 7 April 2013. National Catholic Reporter. “Pope Francis Gets his ‘Oxygen’ from the Slums.” Accessed via last 25 January 2015.

[12] Ciancimino, David, S.J. 2 October 2013. Raatior Ventures. “NY Jesuit Provincial’s Response Leaves more Questions than Answers.” Accessed via last 25 January 2015.

SK: Time to Reboot

With the agreement from both Houses of Congress to take up much-needed reforms in the Sangguniang Kabataan, the Filipino youth can look forward to an improved system that is more relevant and responsive to their needs.

These reforms will be tackled side by side with the postponement of the SK elections this year.

At this point, there is a consensus that we need to reboot the SK. And we need more young people to participate in the discussion in the next few weeks.

Let’s use the time before the next SK elections next year to pass these needed reforms, convince more young people to participate and run so that the SK can finally live up to its intended potential.

Bam: BBL Should Be Pro-Poor, Pro-Business

Senator Bam Aquino calls on fellow lawmakers to focus on the provisions that will spur jobs and livelihood of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to ensure that the growth it expected to bring to the region will be inclusive to all Mindanaoans.

“The BBL’s economic provisions must be thoroughly scrutinized to make sure that all Mindanaoans will truly benefit from the growth that they’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

If enacted into law, the BBL is expected to usher in lasting peace in Mindanao with the creation of a Bangsamoro entity, led by officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Aside from peace and order, Sen. Bam believes that the BBL will boost economic activity in the region, resulting in more jobs and livelihood for the poor people in the region.

“With the anticipated development in the region’s peace and order, local and foreign investors will see Mindanao as the next best business destination due to its untapped potential, hardowrking and innovative citizenry and vast natural resources,” Sen. Bam said.

Sen. Bam said the influx of investors will lead to fresh jobs and livelihoods in the region, giving Mindanaoans a chance to provide for the needs of their families and get out of poverty.

“The opportunity for every Filipino to earn for themselves and for their families must be realized through the BBL,” Sen. Bam emphasized.

In addition, Sen. Bam said the BBL will hasten agricultural development and modernization and address the looming power supply problem in the region.

Senate President Franklin Drilon earlier announced that it will prioritize the passage of the BBL, on top of other economic-related bills.

Bam: Time Running Out on SK Reform Bill

Senator Bam Aquino calls on colleagues to hasten the passage of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) reform bill, saying the time to introduce needed changes in the existing system is running out.

“We have less than two months remaining to introduce the changes that we are pushing for to make it more effective in addressing the needs of the youth,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

Sen. Bam’s “Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan (LBK)” bill was among several bills consolidated under Senate Bill No. 2401 or the Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014.

According to the bill, Congress has until February 2015 to introduce the needed reforms in the existing system. If not, the elections will push through in February of this year with the current problematic system.

Instead of having the system abolished, Bam pushed for the suspension of the 2013 SK elections to pave way for introduction of needed reforms that will help turn the youth into better public servants in the future.

During the recent two-day Hackathon on SK, Bam urged the youth to actively participate in the shaping of the reform bill, which is currently undergoing interpellations in the upper chamber.

“We call on the youth to actively participate in the formation of this bill. Your input can be a big help as we craft a law that will introduce crucial reforms in the system,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam said this is the best time for the youth to pitch in their ideas, which will be introduced during the amendment stage.

“The reforms we are pushing are crucial as they will harness volunteerism among the youth and pull them away from clutches of partisan politics,” the senator said.

The measure proposes to expand the age range for officers to 18 to 24 years old from the current range of 15 to 17 years old

The bill also pushes for increased participation for youth through the creation of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), composed of youth leaders from universities and colleges, the Church and other religious groups, and communities, that will support the SK and ensure the creation of better programs and policies for the Filipino youth.


Bam: Put Pope Francis’ Messages into Action

The best gift that Pinoys can give to Pope Francis is to put his messages into action.

Senator Bam Aquino issued this challenge, saying that it is now time to live out the words of the Holy Father during his five-day stay in the country.

“Putting the Pope’s messages about social justice, solidarity with the poor and love for the other person, into action is the best gift that we can give to Papa Kiko for inspiring us to become better persons and better citizens of this country,” Bam said.

During his homilies and preachings, Pope Francis appealed to government officials and the youth to help the poor and the marginalized.

The Holy Father also called on government officials to “reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor.”

“The Pope’s visit must inspire us to eradicate graft and corruption in government. And this needs everyone’s cooperation, vigilance and faith to make the reforms happen,” Bam said.

Bam also calls on the government to focus on fighting poverty and providing employment and livelihood opportunities to the poor and marginalized to help uplift their living conditions.

“We must go beyond the common understanding of charity.  We must recognize the dignity of the poor by providing them the opportunity of earning for themselves and their families,” Bam said.

Meanwhile, the senator lauded devotees who attended the different Papal events for their discipline amid the challenging conditions.

“We laud our countrymen for their discipline, especially during the Holy Mass at the Quirino Grandstand. Your immeasurable devotion to the Holy Father and to the Catholic faith is commendable and as inspiring as well,” the senator said.

Photo source: President Aquino’s Official Facebook Page

Bam: Revisit Law Penalizing Erring Airline Companies

A senator emphasized the need to revisit Republic Act 776 or the Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines of 1952 to provide passengers adequate protection against erring airline companies.

“There is an urgent need to revisit this law because the situation is far different now compared to 63 years ago,” said Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“With more Filipinos now who are capable to travel by air to reach to their destination, let’s introduce necessary revisions to the law to make it more responsive to today’s needs and enable it to give enough protection to passengers,” the senator noted.

Aquino stressed the need to review the provisions of RA 776 on Violations and Penalties, where any carrier or person who violates or fails to comply with any provision of the Act, or any of the terms, conditions or limitations in a permit or amendment thereto or any orders, rules or regulations issued by the CAB shall be subject to a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos for each violation.

“It is unacceptable that some of our countrymen were delayed or weren’t able to go home to be with their families and friends during the Christmas season,” Aquino said.

This age-old provision was used as basis by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in penalizing Cebu Pacific P52.1 million for delays and cancelled flights during the Christmas season. The fine was the largest ever imposed on an airline in Philippine aviation history.

“We also need to look at how to properly compensate our passengers, may it be rebooking, refunding or other forms that will be commensurate of the inconvenience they experienced,” Aquino stressed.

The CAB said Cebu Pacific violated its certificate of public convenience and necessity because of the delays and cancellations that affected 10,400 passengers from December 23 to 26, 2014.

“This incident will become a regular occurrence if the current law lacks the needed punch against erring airline companies,” the senator said.

The senator said that he would file a resolution on the proposed amendments to RA776 next week when the Senate session resumes.

“In the end, we would drive away air travelers, both foreign and local, if we make poor service the norm in our air transportation system,” the senator added.

Sen. Bam Pushes for Heavier Penalties for Crimes vs. Journalists

Senator Bam Aquino strongly condemned the killing of a tabloid reporter in Bataan and joined the world in denouncing the massacre of 12 people, including 10 journalists, in Paris, France.


“We strongly condemn the rash of violence against media, both here and abroad. These senseless killings have no place in a civilized and humane society and must be stopped,” said Aquino.


Aquino was referring to murder of 10 journalists working for Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly newspaper, and two police officers in Paris, France recently.


The two perpetrators behind the murder were killed after a standoff while a third suspect surrendered to authorities.


Last week, Abante tabloid reporter Nerlita “Nerlie” Ledesma was gunned down by a riding-in-tandem in Bataan.


Authorities have arrested a suspect — a gun-for-hire — and are currently determining the motive behind Ledesma’s killing.


“We must ensure that the perpetrator and the brains behind the killing of Ledesma will be punished for their crime,” the senator said.


The senator said his office is exploring pushing for legislation that will increase penalties for violent crime against journalist.


“Journalists will continue to suffer if we will not show resolve in putting an end to this impunity immediately,” the senator said.



Aquino also urged the creation of a special court that will hear only crimes against journalists to fast track the resolution of the case and the dispensation of justice.

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