Month: February 2015

Bam: Bamboo Industry Imperative to Country’s Growth

The country’s promising bamboo industry may lose its status as one of the world’s top exporters if it fails to meet the growing demand from local and international markets, a senator warned.

Based on the data from the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, Senator Bam Aquino revealed that only 52,000 hectares of land in the country is planted with bamboo, which is not enough to cover the increasing market demand.

“The local market demand for bamboo products is estimated at P11 billion while the current global market demand is $7 billion and it is expected to increase to $15 to $20 billion in 2017,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“The main challenge is to make supply sufficient for its continuous and growing demand so we can grab a lion’s share of the market,” the senator added.

In 2010, Sen. Bam said the Philippines was the fifth largest bamboo exporter in the world.  From 2012-2014, the senator said P306.3 million worth of investments, P261.8 million sales and 13,103 jobs were generated by the country’s bamboo industry.

To keep the country’s status as one of the world’s top bamboo producers, Aquino has filed Senate Resolution No. 1203 seeking to conduct an inquiry on the status of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap.

Sen. Bam said the inquiry is aimed at aligning the country’s bamboo industry with the trade and environmental plans of the government, enabling it to fulfil demands from local and international markets.

“With no reliable inventory of available bamboos nationwide, there is an urgent need for a proper and timely coordination among relevant government agencies, non-government organizations, academe and business sector to determine a concrete industry roadmap,” the senator said.

The senator added that the country’s bamboo industry has a huge economic potential and it can be used to improve the lives of people in the countryside.

“The return on investment on bamboo is also lot faster since it can be frequently harvested, making it an attractive and sustainable community project even for small farmers,” Sen. Bam said.

In 2010, the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBDIC), through Executive Order No. 879, was created to provide overall policy and program directions for all stakeholders.

Under EO 879, the government is tasked to reforest at least 500,000 hectares with bamboo as part of the one million hectares as designated areas as contribution to the ASEAN commitment of 20 million hectares of new forest by 2020.

“While the bamboo is planted to protect our environment, we also need to realize its economic potential as communities will have livelihood and job opportunities because of the growing demand,” Sen. Bam stressed.

The EO also directed the use of bamboo for at least 25 percent of the desk and other bamboo furniture requirements of public elementary and secondary schools, aside from prioritizing the use of bamboo in furniture fixtures and other construction requirements of government facilities.

Bam Hails Selfless Youth Groups for Embodying People Power Spirit

Senator Bam Aquino hailed the 20 Ten Outstanding Youth Organization (TAYO) finalists for embodying the spirit of People Power and renewing the fire of nation building.

“Today, I see that People Power is alive in our youth,” Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, said in his speech during the 12th TAYO Awards ceremonies in Malacanang.

In his speech, Sen. Bam praised finalists for coming up with different programs and projects that help uplift conditions in the communities they live in.

“Anytime people come together to further causes that benefit the less fortunate; any time you join a group that creates change for a better Philippines, that’s People Power,” Sen. Bam said.

The senator also expressed hope that other youth organizations can draw inspiration from the 20 finalists so they can also embody the spirit of People Power and join efforts to create a more prosperous Philippines for everyone.

“It is my hope that you, who have made such a tangible and lasting impact on society, can inspire even more people to join the fight for a better Philippines,” Sen. Bam said.

“The country still needs the spirit of People Power that exists within everyone, to keep the country moving towards social justice, true freedom, and peace,” he added.

Twenty (20) youth organizations – 5 from NCR, 5 from Luzon, 5 from Visayas and 5 from Mindanao – bested 397 other entries for slots in the TAYO National Finals Week.

Sen. Bam gave special mention to Kanlungan Pilipinas Movement, whose E-Learning Centers, dubbed “Balay Kanlungan ng Karunungan”, provide far-flung communities with a free information and learning hub where they can visit and access educational materials.

 Sen. Bam also cited UP College of Medicine Phi Lambda Delta Sorority’s flagship project — Milk Matters, a regular milk letting activity that aims to ensure a safe and sustainable supply of breastmilk for the high-risk neonates of the UP-Philippine General Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PGH-NICU).

The project also seeks to empower mothers to choose breastmilk as their sole choice for their babies’ health and establish community-based milk banks to encourage breastfeeding practices via sustainable partnerships with local government units and non-government organizations.

The senator also commended the Katipunan ng mga Kabataang Santiagueno for its project that produces bio-organic fertilizer and other possible solutions to address the garbage problem of Santiago City in Isabela.

Among its project is the production of charcoal briquettes from leaves, twigs, stems and other cellulosic forest wastes. 

 The three groups were among those selected in the 12th edition of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards. Other winners were RAPID, Inc., Red Cross Youth and Junior Rescue Team, Access PYLP Alumni Association, Inc., Move This World Pilipinas Inc., Youth for Environment jn School Organization, Indigenous Youth Servant Leaders Association of the Philippines and University of San Agustin Little Theater.

The search for Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) is the sole award-giving body that grants nationwide recognition to youth organizations for their outstanding contributions to nation-building and development.

 The TAYO awards also honor exceptional achievements of youth groups and encourage the replication of such noteworthy and innovative efforts to solve basic problems in communities.

TAYO 12 is organized by the TAYO Awards Foundation, National Youth Commission, and the Office of Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino. It is presented by Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, Inc. and sponsored by San Miguel Corporation, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, SMART, SM Cares, Lenovo Philippines, Greenwich Foundation and Jollibee Group Foundation.

The 2015 Search will commence on March 30, 2015. Applications can be downloaded online via the official website

Republic Act No. 10744: Credit Surety Fund Act of 2014

For a developing country like the Philippines, majority of its businesses come from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). As of 2011, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) accounts that 99.6% are MSMEs, employing about 62% of the Philippine workforce. With that, the sector is a major stakeholder in the economic development of the people.

Yet, one of the roadblocks for the continued growth of the MSMEs is access to financing. The existing requirements for credit do not consider the nature and stature of these micro and small businesses. Current prerequisites for financing are marginalizing the sector, which provides jobs and livelihood to the majority of Filipinos.

It is high time that a structure of extension of credit for MSMEs be developed to further grow micro and small enterprises all over the country.

Thus, the bill proposes the establishment of the Credit Surety Fund (CSF) mechanism to enhance the credit worthiness of MSMEs, broa~en their 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.

The challenge is to grow micro businesses into small enterprises and small enterprises to medium enterprises. If this challenge is addressed, we would better enable the kind of economic growth that not only benefits the few rich, but also the majority of the people, including the poorest Filipino.

In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought.



Senate Bill No. 2214: Big Data Act of 2014

The world we live in is in constant change. With these changes, more data are being collected, stored, accessed, analyzed, re-analyzed and disseminated.

Big Data has risen as an alternative source of information. It refers to 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.

Today, Big Data from information-sensing smart phones, social media and the Internet, remote sensing and climate sensors is more available and accessible.

Thus, 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.

With the help of the Philippine Big Data Center, disaster response teams will be armed by important information and other data needed during emergency situations and calamities.

The Bill proposes an infrastructure where Big Data is utilized for research and development, and invention and innovation.

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

The Center will also be responsible for disseminating and communicating the knowledge gained from its research activities to its stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. The analysis from Big Data will help policy makers to be more responsive to the needs of the public.

Furthermore, the Center will respect the right to privacy of the Filipinos, ensuring data anonymity, establish opt-in permissions and uphold transparency in its data analytics processes.

The passage of this bill will pioneer and institutionalize a technological breakthrough that will support the public and private sectors. It boosts the efforts of the State for more advanced, sustained and inclusive developmental progress.

In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought.



Senate Bill No. 2217: Start-Up Business Bill

The positive economic forecast for the Philippines encourages firms to invest in innovation towards the development of new products that would be able to compete in both local and foreign markets.

Start-up enterprises (“Start-ups”) have the potential to spur and spread such innovation. As these enterprises have likewise the appetite to take on more risks, they would fuel creativity and challenge existing ways of doing business. The establishment and growth of Start-ups would therefore be beneficial for more Filipinos who have the innate talent for shaping contemporary ideas while working with limited resources.

A measure to assist Start-ups would help to develop in the maturation of a community dedicated to fostering new solutions to ever changing complex problems.

The Start-Up Business Act proposes a tax exemption for Start Ups for the first two years of operation provided that these enterprises are duly registered businesses that are not affiliates, subsidiaries or franchises of any existing company and do not have any previous or other existing registered businesses.

This measure encourages Start-ups to get organized, and establish their business operations and market base. It will give these enterprises the proper time to stand on its own.

Moreover, this bill recognizes the role of Start-ups in the economy and demonstrates the State’s commitment to innovation.

In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought.



Senate Bill No. 2215: Community Disaster Warehouse Bill

In the past few years, the country has been battered by more than twenty typhoons a year, with an increasing number in the super-typhoon category.

As super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Eastern Visayas, particularly Leyte, last year, Filipinos who were seriously affected needed to contend with an insurmountable shortage of food, clean water, medicine and first aid, and clothing to weather the storm. Supplies weren’t able to reach the survivors immediately due to wrecked ports, airports and roads.

Thus, it is important that every community in the country be equipped and prepared for disasters, and make relief and basic goods as accessible as possible. The first few days after storms or earthquakes hit are crucial in mitigating further tragedies to individuals and families.

Hence, the establishment of community disaster warehouses aims to extend assistance to survivors of calamities, natural or man-made, by ensuring access to basic goods and prime commodities.

It intends for goods sold in these warehouses to be tax-exempt, and ensure that goods in the market would be available to avoid hoarding in affected areas. Furthermore, it seeks to protect citizens from price manipulation during times of crisis.

This intervention is important for the days and weeks right after the calamity to enable people and communities to start rebuilding and normalizing their lives.

Equipping communities with proper mechanism to assist its people during adversity is empowering and inclusive towards a nation that works for all.

In view of the foregoing, approval of this bill is earnestly sought.



Senate Bill No. 2216: Mandatory Appointment of a Cooperative Officer in Every LGUs

In his travels in Europe in the 19th century, Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal was impressed with the success of a new economic movement that transformed the economic and social life of the Europeans. When he was incarcerated in Dapitan, Rizal he put up a school for the poor community where the community itself was the owner, a business model that he learned in his travels in the West. He also established the first cooperative store with his students. In addition, he organized the La Sociedad de los Abaceleros (Society of Abaca Producers), the first cooperative of its kind in the country.

Cooperative businesses are about meeting the needs of the people, where profit making is side by side with the development of the community. Since cooperatives are owned and democratically controlled by their members, the decisions taken balance the need for profitability and the wider interests of the community. Thus, cooperatives empower communities where they own and manage their own enterprise and share the economic benefits among all members.

Such a model where everyone has an interest in the participatory and developmental efforts of the community need to be replicated and scaled up to further the State’s interest in providing progress even to the marginalized sectors of society.

The Cooperatives Officer Bill mandates all municipal governments to have a designated officer attending to the needs of cooperatives and promoting cooperative-building in their localities.

The Cooperatives Officer shall steward the cooperatives in the areas of registration, market linkage, product development, training and mentoring, and access to capital and financing. Cooperatives are then promoted and further developed, organizing communities and building an economic movement for the people.

The challenge is to continue what Rizal fought for – not only political freedom – but economic freedom and poverty alleviation as well.

In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought.



Senate Bill No. 2227: Amending Secs. 22, 24 (A) 52 ) (2), Nirc (Marginal Income Earners)

In a country where 2.96 million Filipinos are unemployed, the poor turn to various forms of self-employment to be able to make ends meet. The farmers and fisherfolk in the rural areas, and the tricycle drivers, vendors and small sari-sari storeowners in the cities, think of innovative ways everyday just to earn decent income for their families. More than anything else, these micro-entrepreneurs, or Marginal Income Earners (MIEs), need the right opportunity to grow their small businesses into a more sustainable source of living. Charging taxes does not help them in any way; rather, it becomes a burden to a sector that is situated below the poverty line.

This bill seeks to amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 so as to exempt from taxes the MIEs, whose gross sales from their small engagements in business would just be enough to sustain the needs of their families. Such a measure provides a less repressive and more enabling environment for MIEs to thrive and be given a chance to succeed. It further continues our campaign in achieving growth that includes everyone, even and especially the poor and marginalized.

In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought.



Sen. Bam Eyes Medal of Valor for Mamasapano Survivors As Well

Aside from the Fallen 44, a senator recommends  to bestow the Medal of Valor to the Special Action Force (SAF) officers and other personnel who survived the Mamasapano encounter as well.


In his Senate Resolution No. 1180, Senator Bam Aquino said 31 SAF officers were wounded in the January 25 encounter against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).


In addition, one member of the 55th SAF Company and 30 members of the Seaborne United of the 84th SAF company sustained injuries as they held off elements of the MILF and the BIFF.


“The death of the PNP-SAF officers and all those wounded in the police operations should serve as a continuing reminder that the ultimate purpose of the government is to protect their citizens,” Sen. Bam said.


However, the SAF suffered heavy casualty, losing 44 men in a daring operation that led to the killing of international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan.


Sen. Bam said the sacrifice of these uniformed men as they carried out their duties to protect the citizenry and maintain peace and order in the country deserves no less than the Medal of Valor and the benefits and entitlement that goes with it, under Republic Act No. 9049.


“The outstanding act of bravery of these soldiers in the most dangerous combat circumstances only shows the quality of the country’s uniformed men in the service of the Filipino people,” Sen. Bam said.


Earlier, Sen. Bam filed a resolution seeking to posthumously award the Medal of Valor to the 44 SAF officers for their exemplary courage and heroism.


“Their mission was accomplished and that the country became a safer place because of them,” Sen. Bam emphasized.


The Medal of Valor entitles the widower and/or dependents of the awardee to a lifetime monthly gratuity and precedence in employment in National Government Agencies (NGAs) or Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) among other benefits.


“Through this recognition, it is our hope that the nation will never forget what they’ve sacrificed for and be an inspiration for our fellow Filipinos to continue serving our country,” Sen. Bam stressed.

Bam: Gov’t Must Fund Private Child-Care Agencies

Government must extend financial support to non-government organizations involved in child care to help them provide the best care for abandoned and neglected children, Sen. Bam Aquino emphasized.


“This is a priority. We need to provide the best care for those who are most vulnerable and marginalized,” Sen. Bam stressed during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Social Justice on several bills tackling child-care system in the country.


“Private institutions helping in the service delivery work of government must be supported,” added Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.


In other countries, like the United Kingdom and Australia, Sen. Bam said the government gives funding to private organizations doing the work of government, such as child and foster care, and assistance to PWDs and the elderly.


Sen. Bam made the pronouncement after several child-care agencies lamented the dwindling monetary donations they’ve been receiving from local and international donors, affecting their capacity to extend help to more children.


“Donations coming from abroad are decreasing due to financial problems and economic issues,” said Atty. Gwen Gana, president of the Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines (ACCAP).


At present, accredited child-care agencies are exempted from paying donor’s tax.


Sen. Bam urged ACCAP to submit the needed operational expenses so it can be included in next year’s budget.


“We have to incorporate it into the 2016 budget so we can provide regular stipend for institutions accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” Sen. Bam said.


“This is the right time to ask for funding for important projects because we are just starting to craft the budget for next year,” he added.


Sen. Bam also allayed fears of some sectors that the process will be exploited by some unscrupulous non-government organizations, like what happened in the pork barrel scam.


“With the DSWD’s stringent accreditation process, I am confident that only qualified NGOs will receive financial support,” Sen. Bam said.

Scroll to top