Month: February 2015

Iloilo Entrepreneurs to Enjoy Access to Capital from Negosyo Center

ILOILO CITY — Entrepreneurs and would-be businessmen will now enjoy access to financing and other assistance with the opening of the country’s second Negosyo Center onFeb. 6 at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) building this city.

Senator Bam Aquino, author of Republic Act 10644 or the “Go Negosyo Act”, will formally open the Negosyo Center together with several local and DTI officials, led by Secretary Gregory Domingo, Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and League of the Municipalities of the Philippines Iloilo Chapter Head Neil Tupas.

The “Go Negosyo Act” provides for the establishment of Negosyo Centers in provinces, cities and municipalities in the country.

“The opening of a Negosyo Center in Iloilo City will boost the development of micro, small and medium enterprises, creating jobs and livelihood in the community,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam said the Negosyo Center will provide a unified and simplified business registration process, thus helping ease of doing business and fast-track government processes in putting up a business in Iloilo City.

“By making business registration simpler and more efficient, we hope to encourage more Filipinos to start their own small businesses to stimulate the local economy,” Sen. Bam emphasized.

Iloilo has been ripe for investment and economic growth. In 2012, it recorded an impressive expansive growth of 7.5%, even surpassing the national growth rate of 6.6%.

Aside from ease of doing business, Sen. Bam said the Negosyo Center will help link up entrepreneurs with microfinance institutions that provide financing without collateral.

“We aim to develop and spur the rice, sugar cane, hog and commercial fishery industries of Iloilo. We want them to grow into bigger businesses and be able to compete in larger markets,” added Sen. Bam

In addition, the Negosyo Centers will provide courses and development programs, training, advice on business conceptualization and feasibility, management, capability building, human resources, marketing and other support services.

Life Bank Foundation Inc. president Manuel Perlas hailed the establishment of the Negosyo Center here, saying it will open up horizon for entrepreneurs to enhance their business skills and expand their networks.

“We hope this will reinforce the growth of bayanihan economics that is critically needed for poverty eradication to take root throughout the country,” Perlas said.

The Negosyo Center in Iloilo City is the second in the country, next to Cagayan de Oro, which was established last November.

As mandated by RA 10644, Sen. Bam expects that around 100 Negosyo Centers will be established in different parts of the country this year.

“With the help of DTI, I hope we can reach or even exceed our target for this year,” Sen. Bam said.

Bam Pushes for Expanding the Anti-Dynasty Provision in SK Reform Bill

Senator Bam Aquino supports the moves to expand the general scope of the anti-dynasty provision of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) reform bill.

During the period of amendments on Senate Bill No. 2401 or the Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014, the Senate widened the scope of the bill’s anti-dynasty provision.

The new provision prohibits family and relatives of any public official – from national, provincial, city/municipality and barangay levels, including appointed ones — up to second degree of affinity consanguinity from seeking any SK position.

In the previous version of the bill, only family members and relatives of provincial, city/municipal and barangay officials are prohibited from running for any SK position.

“We welcome the expansion of this provision because this is a big help in our efforts to remove the SK from the clutches of partisan and traditional politics,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

“This move could also be a precursor to the omnibus anti-dynasty bill that we hope would be passed within this administration,” added Sen. Bam, whose “Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan (LBK)” bill was among several bills consolidated under Senate Bill No. 2401.

The bill also expands the SK age range to 18 to 27 years old to make them more accountable for their actions.

“With the wider age range, the youth can sign contracts, disburse money and be more accountable,” Sen. Bam said.

The bill also mandates SK officials to undergo mandatory training programs before they assume their posts, equipping them with necessary skills in governance and leadership which will be useful in their position.

 “These training programs will ensure competency of the SK officers so they can be true leaders and role models to the youth,” Sen. Bam said.

In addition, the measure also pushes for the introduction of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), a council that will support the SK and ensure the participation of more young people through youth organizations.

The LYDC will be composed of representatives from the different youth organizations in the community – student councils, church and youth faith groups, youth-serving organizations, and community-based youth groups.

Senate Bill No. 2334: Amending Sec. 41, Administrative Code (Authorizing Punong Barangay to Administer Oath of Office)

The barangay, the smallest political unit in the country, plays a crucial role in the development of the community and the politicizing of the citizenry.

The barangay captain, together with the barangay council, has been empowered by the national government to carry out programs and projects for its constituents. The barangay captain, seen as the elder and community leader, has been in the unique position to practice grassroots governance and provide effective services to its people.

Giving them the power to administer oaths of office empowers and legitimizes their role in democracy building of our political institutions.

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



Senate Bill No. 2333: Minimum Take Home Pay Bill

Teachers are among our modern day heroes. They inspire and shape the youth to become productive citizens of the country. They go great lengths to provide for their families while serving the country.

With the increasing cost of living, teachers tighten their belts to get by on their modest salaries. They turn to loan agents, government and private, to make ends meet. They go into debt in order to provide for their families’ needs, even to the extent that the entirety of their salary end up going to loan payments.

How can these critical players in nation building impact the next generation if they are bombarded with financial woes? It is thus imminent that the State takes care of its own by curbing unhealthy practices and providing clear policies in support of its government servant- leaders.

By setting a minimum net take-home pay for government employees, this bill seeks to ensure that teachers and other government employees are able to meet their families’ basic needs and reduce their need to take on debts. Setting a minimum take-home amount allows an appropriate control for government employees to be able to properly budget for their households expenses.

Such measure contributes in the efforts to ensure that no one gets left behind, especially among our country’s public servants, in the progress and development of the country.

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




Senate Bill No. 2353: Amending Secs. 22, 24 (A) 51 ) (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 fishermen in the rural areas, and the tricycle drivers and small sari-sari storeowners in the cities, think of innovative ways just to earn a 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 the MIEs from taxes. Their income from their small engagements are just enough to sustain the needs of their families. Such a measure provides a 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 ofthis bill is earnestly sought.




Senate Bill No. 2373: Amending Sec. 709, Tariff and Customs Code

For the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), going back home to the Philippines is something they look forward to. And part of this experience is putting up a package of gifts to bring home to family, relatives and friends. The balikbayan box has been the symbol for the OFWs – of their sacrifices and travails going abroad, of their desire to provide better lives for their loved ones.

Yet, sending a balikbayan box home becomes burdensome for these modern-day heroes. Currently, these packages undergo a tedious process in the customs and are charged fees that are discouraging for OFWs to send more regularly. Thus, there is a need to provide the ten million Filipinos abroad, who have been already contributing greatly to the economy the past four decades, a better customs administration by reducing the de minimis threshold.

The de minimis threshold is the minimal volume of declaration of goods in the customs for consignments. low thresholds for customs declaration signify increased documentation and processes for shipments at entry pOints in the country. Increased documentation leads to larger turnover and delivery time of goods, and larger administration costs that would yield lower revenue impact for both businesses and government.

Presently, the Philippines has the lowest de minimis threshold in the ASEAN, at PhP10 or US$0.23.  The ASEAN average threshold is at a hundred dollars, which is four hundred times’ that of the Philippines’. The extremely low Philippine threshold has not been changed since 1957 and is clearly antiquated. It needs to be updated to be reflective of current prices.

By increasing the de minimis level to Ten Thousand Pesos (PhP10,000.00), the proposed measure provides a more realistic and relevant threshold. It enables the Bureau of Customs to focus its efforts in looking out for high-value, high-risk and high-revenue goods for collection and enforcement, thereby making customs processes more efficient.

Then, the balikbayan boxes and other low-value and low-risk packages and of OFWs and others, such as entrepreneurs and individuals, who purchase small goods online, are allowed to go through customs faster with minimum fees.

As the saying goes, MAMI: minimum activities for maximum impact for government, private institutions and individuals.

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







Senate Bill No. 2374: Amending Secs. 3(Y), 53, and 55, Philippine Mining Act

According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Philippines is among the top five countries with the highest overall mineral reserves in the world. Given the country’s vast amounts of mineral resources, the Philippine mining industry has great potential to be a major growth sector for our economy. With a proper framework for the responsible utilization and management of the country’s mineral resources, mining can generate much-needed exports, foreign investments, government revenues and employment.

At present, the potential of the mining industry remains unrealized. The contribution of mining to the economy is low, accounting for less than 1% of GDP from 2003 to 2012. One of the reasons for this is the limited capability for mineral processing within the country. Consequently, most of the industry’s products are exported in primary form, with little added value.

The proposed bill requires that all extracted minerals be processed within the country before export, thereby triggering the development of our country’s mineral processing industry and enhancing the value of our mineral products. Ultimately, this measure seeks to generate more domestic income, attract more investments, and lead to more jobs and livelihood for the Filipino people.

In light of the ASEAN Economic Integration, the proposed measure therefore seeks to raise the value of our Philippine exports and expand the industry’s contribution to our economic pie.

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




Senate Bill No. 2408: Bangsamoro Basic Law

Providing for the basic law for the Bangsamoro and abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, repealing for the purpose Republic Act No. 9054, entitled “An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” and Republic Act No. 6734, entitled “An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” and for other purposes.



Senate Bill No. 2437: Php75,000.00 Cap for Income Tax Exemption of the 13th Month Pay/Other Benefits




Senate Bill No. 2464: Amending Secs. 442, 452, 453 & 461; RA 7160 (Income Requirements for the Creation of a Municipality)

For the past few years. the Philippines has experienced phenomenal economic growth and renewed investor trust and confidence. To sustain this progress for the next decade. there is a need to ensure that the growth would be supported by effective and streamlined policy structures and mechanisms. even in the local and provincial levels of government.

One of these efforts is the amendment of the process and requirements to determine an urbanized city. It has been two decades since the local government code was enacted. and it is high time to revisit and rationalize these requirements.

Two decades paved the way to advancement in technology, infrastructure development and other urbanization interventions, and economic inflation. Thus, it is imminent to update the income requirements in the declaration of a city as a highly urbanized city and the conversion of a municipality into a component city.

The proposal seeks to increase the income requirements for a municipality to become a component city from two million and five hundred thousand pesos to twelve million and five hundred thousand pesos for the last two consecutive years; for a highly urbanized status, the proposal seeks to increase the income requirements from fifty million pesos to two hundred fifty million pesos.

Such adjustment raises the standards of excellence among local governments and encourages further innovation and creativity in urbanization and development projects and programs.

From being called Sick Man of Asia, the time when the Philippines will be described as a middle-income nation or even a developed nation is within reach. Thus, it is essential that everyone. even local governments need to prepare and chip in in the efforts of creating and enabling environment for growth and prosperity to be realized by every Filipino family.

In view of the foregoing. the approval ofthis bill is earnestly sought.





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