Month: March 2017

Bam: Are police scalawags now above the law?

Instead of promising pardon to scalawag policemen who will be convicted in the performance of their duties in the fight against illegal drugs, President Duterte should let the justice system takes its course and punish those who will be found guilty of abuse and other crimes.

 “With his promise, it seems that there are individuals and groups who are above the law,” said Sen. Bam, referring to Duterte’s commitment to police officers who would be convicted in the performance of their duties.

 “Mas magandang hayaan muna nating umusad ang ating sistemang panghustisya bago ang anumang pangako,” he added.

 It was reported that among those who could receive pardon are 19 police officers involved in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa. The police officers were ordered arrested and charged with murder.

 The police officers killed Espinosa inside the Baybay sub-provincial jail last year.  They claimed that the mayor fired at them while they were about to implement a search warrant.

In the Senate hearing, however, a medico-legal officer from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) determined that the shots were fired when Mayor Espinosa was lying down. Other details regarding the altercation also raised alarm bells with fellow police who narrated these to the Senators.

 According to its report, the Committee on Public Order, chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Espinosa’s murder was premeditated and the involved policemen committed abuse of authority.

2017 Commencement Speech of Sen. Bam Aquino: Three Secrets


Before anything else, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to your commencement exercise. It is an honor to be speaking to all of you on such a momentous occasion!

This is the culmination of all your hard work as students! So let’s take some time to thank the people who were part of your journey.

Of course, our teachers who took on the challenge of arming our graduates with the skills they need to succeed beyond these walls.

We must not forget our parents and our family – those who worked so hard to afford your education and support you. I’m sure they are filled with pride today.

Let’s give them all a round of applause! Damo nga salamat, teachers, parents, family, friends!

 Ang tagumpay ninyo ngayon, mga graduates, ay tagumpay rin ng inyong mga pamilya!

But of course, we must give the biggest, loudest applause to our graduates! Palakpakan niyo po ang inyong mga sarili! Congratulations!

Today, you are celebrating the hard work and sleepless nights you put into finishing your thesis, the nerves you conquered during every exam, and all the times you pushed yourself to excel and do better!

Beyond the academics, today, you are also celebrating the unforgettable moments you created, the friendships you forged, and the person you’ve grown to be.

It is the sum of all these experiences – good and bad, successes and failures – that prepare you for your new adventure outside Carlos Hilado Memorial State College.

And, truly, dear friends, every Filipino should be given the opportunity to earn a college degree, have a chance at a better job and a better future.

During the course of your education, I’m sure there were times when people in this room were worried about their finances, may mga nahirapan po magbayad ng school fees.

Siguro po may mga kilala rin kayo na hindi nakapagtapos – hindi dahil mababa ang kanilang grades, ngunit dahil nahirapan sila makahanap ng pambayad sa tuition.

 Pero mayroon po akong good news para sa inyo at para sa kanila!

In the Senate, we recently passed on third and final reading the Affordable Higher Education for All Act, which will make tuition fees free in all state universities and colleges – including CHMSC!

Ang mga kaibigan ninyong hindi nakapagtapos ay pwedeng bumalik sa kolehiyo at, tulad ninyo, maka-graduate na rin!

Ang inyong mga kaibigan, mga kapatid at kamag-anak na nag-aaral sa mga SUC, matutulungan na sila, kahit kaunti, dahil sa libreng tuition.

 Siguro iniisip ninyo… Senator Bam, graduate na po kami. Bakit niyo pa ito sinasabi?

Well, dear friends, I have 2 reasons.

One – hindi pa po ito batas. Kailangan pa po ito ipasa sa Kongreso at pirmahan ng Presidente. Kailangan po naming ang inyong suporta upang bantayan ang proseso at siguraduhin na maipapasa ito sa lalong madaling panahon. We need you to help us spread the word.

 Second, I know you will appreciate it. You who have worked so hard to pay for a good education for all 4 years. I know you will appreciate this bill and make sure na maipasa ito para sa inyong mga kaibigan, mga magulang, para sa susunod na batch, susunod na mga henerasyon.

 This is our gift to every Filipino family whose dream is to have a member, at least one person, in their family to earn a college degree.

Pero hindi po ito ang pabaon ko sa inyo ngayon, mga graduates!

My gift to you today, before you venture out into a wild, uncertain, and complicated world, are 3 secrets!

The first secret is the secret to living.

 Sa mga mayroong smart phone, pakilabas ito at ilagay sa camera mode! Itapat sa inyong katabi. Itapat sa noo… sa ilong… sa pisngi…

 Ngayon naman, itabi ang inyong mga phone. Itabi na ‘yan at titigan naman ang inyong katabi.

For five minutes. Stare at your seatmate. Get closer! Lapit pa hanggang sa maamoy mo na ang kanyang hininga… Hanggang sa malaman mo na kung ano kinain niya for lunch.

Ok! 5 mins is up!

How did that feel? Was it uncomfortable? <pause> Alin ang mas nakakailang? Alin ang mas may impact? <pause>

Hindi ba’t mas ramdam mo ang iyong katabi pag walang gadget sa pagitan ninyo? Mas ramdam mo rin ang hiya!

Pero parang mas totoo, parang mas nakilala mo ang kaniyang mukha at pagkibo kapag gamit mo ang iyong dalawang mata.

Friends, life too short to be living behind a screen!

This, dear graduates, is the first secret: Live life with no filters.

If you’re flirting with someone online, lakasan ang loob at makipag-landian in person!

Kung may kaaway ka online, why not have a face-to-face discussion? You might even make a new friend.

In this day of Facebook and Instagram, marami na pong filters sa ating buhay. But these filters should only be in our photos and videos. Filters and preconceptions must not cloud our minds.

We must not allow these filters to waste the experience of knowing each other in real life.

The challenge of this first secret is to experience the world in its fullest, to open our minds beyond a screen, beyond what we think we already know.

Because it is only by living without filters that we truly open up to what the world can offer and what each person can teach us.

That is, to me, the secret to living: to go beyond filters, break down barriers, and genuinely reach out to our fellow men and women.

Tanggalin po natin ang mga harang na iyan at huwag hayaan na hanggang Facebook lang ang pakikitungo natin sa ating mga magulang at sa ating mga kaibigan.

The secret to living is to live life with no filters.

Now, what’s the second secret? Secret number 2 is the secret to winning!


“Why are you so good at winning? What did you do?” This question was posed to a very wise man after he won yet another game.

The tall wise man, with his knowing eyes, paused and rubbed his wise old head. Then he answered:

“Excellence is a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”

Can you guess who this wise man is? It’s none other than… Shaquille O’Neal, legendary basketball player!

After winning so many basketball games, he said the secret to their success was to make excellence a habit!

Truly, habits take up a large part of our day-today and habits lead to success. So how can we expect to succeed if we get used to the mediocre, ang “Pwede Na”?

Makapasa lang – maka-graduate lang. Pwede na ‘yun!

Ang bako-bakong daanan – nadadaanan pa naman. Pwede na ‘yan!

Ang mabagal na internet – nakaka-download pa rin naman. Pwede na!

Pero hindi pwede and pwede na. <slow it down> Kasi pwede pa!

<Speed it up!> Kaya pa nating pagbutihin, pagandahin, pabilisin, palakasin, padamihin… Kaya pa natin basta’t handa tayong magtrabaho at gawing gawiin – gawing habit.

And we do not need to be born very talented or very intelligent to be excellent. What it takes is practice and effort!

A recent psychological study revealed that the key characteristic for success is actually a combination of passion and perseverance This combination is what psychologist Angela Duckworth calls grit.

Grit! It is the ability to keep trying and keep working with heart!

I hope you stay with me for this equation; huling math lesson niyo na ito, promise!

If Talent x Effort = Skill

And Skill x Effort = Achievement

Then with a little Algebra:

Talent x Effort x Effort = Achievement


So you see, effort counts twice!

Let’s take it from Shaq, from science and from our basic math! The secret to winning, the secret to success, is to keep working hard to make excellence a habit.

Now we’re down to the last and final secret for all of you. And this, I think, is the most important.


The third secret is the secret to happiness!


During my days as a social entrepreneur, I was fortunate enough to be part of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and one of the seminars I attended was entitled “The Secret to Happiness”.

 I was so surprised to see that this seminar was attended by some of the richest, most accomplished leaders around the world… Mga tulad nina Bill Gates, hindi rin pala nila alam ang sikreto!

 The speaker in this seminar was actually a scientist who was there to talk about the research they conducted on the human brain.

She said that in moments when humans are happy, certain chemicals are released in the brain and they were able to measure this.

So what they did was try to look for the moments and memories in our life that make our brain release a lot of these “happy chemicals”!

But before she revealed the secret to happiness, she wanted to know what the crowd of VIPs thought. Baka naman alam na nila ang sagot!

She asked everyone, “Do we feel happiest when we have so much money?”

Even the wealthiest men in the room shook their heads no. A lot of money did not make them happy.

“Do we feel happiest when we’ve accomplished so much? When we have earned so many degrees and won so many awards?”

The room was silent. Hindi pa rin!

Her third question really made us think – Do we feel happiest when we are in love?

Yes ba? Mukang maraming inlove/sawi dito!

The answer is no. The secret to happiness is not love and romance; it’s not money; it’s not accomplishments.

The secret to happiness, dear graduates, is kindness and compassion for others.

According to scientific research, “happy chemicals” are released in our brains during moments when: one, we are most kind and, two, when we are most compassionate.

Are you surprised? When I heard it, I was surprised. It was a big realization for me… and I hope this secret warms your heart as it did mine.

Because in these days when we are asked to be tough, to be cold, and to harden our hearts… Now, more than ever, we need to remember to be kind and compassionate to one another.

We must remember that there is courage and there is true happiness in being kind and compassionate to our fellow Filipinos.

Dearest graduates, now with these three secrets, I hope you can live a life that is rich in experiences and rich in love.

I sincerely wish that all of you find both success and happiness, because those two don’t always go hand-in-hand.

And I fervently pray that you never forget your capacity to make your own life better, make the lives of your loved ones better, and even improve the lives of the people in your community.

Lastly, huwag na huwag niyo pong kalilimutan na kahit graduate na kayo, nandito pa rin kami para suportahan kayo at maging cheerleader niyo!

Your teachers, your friends, your family, your parents will always be here to support you.

Because you need them and they need you. Friends, now more than ever, we need each other.

If we, as a nation, can build bridges instead of walls, build respect instead of hate, build friendship instead of rivalry…

If we can build up instead of tear down, then the Philippines can move out of mediocrity and we can finally live in a kind and compassionate society that cares for one another.

This hope for our country and these secrets you can use in your life beyond these halls, iyan po ang aking pabaon.

Madamo gid nga salamat sa inyo nga tanan! Mag-ulupdanay kita , sa pag-uswag! Sa liwat, Congratulations Graduates!

[Thank you, everyone. And congratulations, once again, to our graduates!]



BIDA KA!: Kalayaan sa pagpili ng lider

Mga bida, matapos ipagpa­liban ng ilang taon, nakatakda nang gawin ang halalang pambarangay at Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) sa ika-23 ng Oktubre.

Puspusan na ang paghahanda ng Comelec para sa nasabing halalan. Nasa kasagsagan na rin ang pagpapatala upang maabot ang target na 55 milyong botante, kabilang ang mga bagong botante sa SK.

Dapat noon pang ika-31 ng Oktubre ng nakaraang taon nakatakda ang halalan ngunit inilipat ngayong taon ­matapos maisabatas ang Republic Act No. 10742 o SK ­Reform Act.


Biglang nagkaroon ng agam-agam ang pagsasagawa ng halalan kasunod ng pahayag ni Pangulong Duterte na ­plano niyang ipagpaliban ang eleksiyon at magtalaga na lang ng mga bagong barangay chairman at iba pang mga opisyal ng barangay.

Katwiran ng Pangulo, nasa 40 porsiyento ng barangay captains sa buong bansa ay may kaugnayan sa ilegal na droga at baka mauwi sa narco-politics kapag itinuloy ang halalan.

Ano ba ang basehan ng pahayag na ito ng Pangulo? Mayroon bang intelligence report na nagsasabi na ganito talaga ang bilang ng mga kapitan ng barangay na sangkot sa droga? May pangalan na ba sila ng mga kapitan na sabit dito?

Kung may katibayan nga na ganito karami ang kapitan na sangkot sa ilegal na droga, dapat ipalasap sa kanila ang buong puwersa ng batas. Dapat silang alisin sa puwesto, kasuhan at patawan ng kaukulang parusa.

Kung wala namang matibay na katibayan para suporta­han ang pahayag na ito ng Pangulo, bakit kailangang itigil ang halalan sa mga barangay?

Bakit kailangang alisan ng karapatan ang taumbayan na mamili ng susunod na lider sa kanilang mga komunidad?


Ito ang mga katanungan na kailangang bigyang linaw ng pamahalaan.


Kung legal na argumento naman ang ating pagbaba­tayan, kailangan munang magpasa ang Kongreso ng batas upang maipagpaliban ang darating na halalan at mabigyan ang ­Pangulo ng kapangyarihang magtalaga ng mga bagong ­opisyal ng barangay.

Sa Senado, sinalubong ng pagtutol ang plano. Kahit mga mambabatas na kilalang kaalyado ni Pangulong Duterte, ­sama-samang binatikos at kinontra ang balak ng Palasyo.

Kahit saan kasing anggulo tingnan, malinaw na ito’y na paglabag sa Saligang Batas, na gumagarantiya sa karapatang ito ng mga Pilipino.


Payo natin sa Malacañang, kung mayroon ­silang matibay na ebidensiya laban sa mga opisyal ng ­barangay na sangkot sa ilegal na droga, gawin nila ang nararapat sa ilalim ng batas upang mapapanagot ang mga ito.

Naririyan ang puwersa ng kapulisan na maga­gamit ng pamahalaan upang labanan ang ilegal na gawaing ito hanggang sa lebel ng mga barangay.

Subalit hindi nila dapat idamay sa labang ito ang karapatan ng taumbayan na pumili ng mga ­susunod na lider na sa tingin nila’y makatutulong sa pagpapa­angat ng kanilang kalagayan sa buhay at pag-­asenso ng komunidad.

Ibinigay sa atin ng Saligang Batas ang ­karapatang ito bilang bahagi ng diwa ng isang demokratikong bansa.

Sagrado ang karapatang ito at hindi ­maaaring alisin ninuman, kahit sikat pa siyang pinuno ng ­bansa.

Gaano man ka-popular ang isang lider, hindi niya maaaring saklawin ang lahat ng kapangyarihan.

May kapangyarihan ding ibinibigay ang Saligang Batas sa taumbayan — ang pumili ng mga lider na kanilang naisin.

Mahalagang galing sa taumbayan ang mandato ng mga mauupong opisyal upang magkaroon sila ng pananagutan sa mga nagluklok sa kanila sa puwesto.


Sa pagboto, walang mahirap at walang mayaman. Kahit ano ang estado mo sa buhay, bilyo­naryo ka man o ordinaryong manggagawa, iisa lang ang ­bilang ng ating boto.

Sa panahon lang ng eleksiyon nagkakapantay-pantay ang kalagayan sa buhay ng mga Pilipino. ­

Tuwing halalan, nagkakaroon din ng pagkakataon ang taumbayan upang makaganti sa mapang-api o ­tiwaling pulitiko.

Ito’y isang karapatan na kailanma’y hindi ­maaaring ipagkait sa atin ng gobyerno, lalo na kung gagamit ng dahilan na walang sapat na katibayan.

Bam: Support Microfinance NGOs to end 5-6, loan sharks

Sen. Bam Aquino called on the government to strengthen microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the country to give millions of Filipinos a better alternative from loan sharks and other informal lenders that burden them with unreasonable and high interest rates.

“Dapat palakasin ng pamahalaan ang ating microfinance institutions upang tuluyan nang magwakas ang pagdepende ng mga Pilipino sa 5-6 na naniningil ng sobra at hindi makatwirang interes na lalo pang nagpapahirap sa kanila,” said Sen. Bam.

 “Sa tulong ng Microfinance NGOs, mayroon nang alternatibong malalapitan ang mahihirap at maliliit na negosyante para makakuha ng pautang sa mababang interes at walang collateral,” the senator said.

 Sen. Bam made the pronouncement after it was reported that around three million Filipinos, mostly small entrepreneurs, are indebted to loan sharks and informal lenders.

 Despite the high interest, many Filipinos are enticed to obtain financing from loan sharks because they are not required to submit documentary requirements and collateral, unlike in banks.

 “Hindi na tayo kailangang kumapit sa patalim at kumagat sa 5-6 dahil mayroon tayong microfinance NGOs na handang magbigay ng pautang sa mababang interes at walang collateral,” Sen. Bam said.

 Microfinance NGOs provide Filipinos access to low-interest, no collateral loans to pay for housing, medical, and educational needs as well as loans for small businesses.

 Sen. Bam was the principal sponsor and co-author of Republic Act 10693 or the Microfinance NGOs Act during his term as chairman of Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship in the 16th Congress.

 “Layunin ng batas na ito na mailayo ang mahihirap sa malaking interest na sinisingil ng loan sharks at masusuportahan ang pagnanais ng gobyerno na mabura ang talamak na 5-6,” he said.

The law gives incentives to microfinance NGOs to continue helping Filipinos overcome poverty not just through financing but also through financial literacy, livelihood, and entrepreneurship training.

The law also provides microfinance NGOs needed support and incentives that includes access to government programs and projects, technical assistance and exemption from taxes.

NEGOSYO, NOW NA!: Isdaan sa Dumaguete

Mga kanegosyo, dahil sa pagtulong sa kanyang pamilya, hindi na nagkaroon ng oras si Aling Josefina Llorente para sa sarili.

Tubong Negros Oriental, nakapagtapos si Nanay Josefina ng 2nd year college. Pagkatapos, inilaan na niya ang oras sa pagtatrabaho para sa pa­ngangailangan ng pamilya, kabilang ang anim pang kapatid.

Maliban dito, isa rin siyang aktibong miyembro ng Simbahang Katoliko na nagtuturo ng katesismo sa mga kabataan. Dahil dito, hindi na siya nakapag-asawa.


Matapos ang ilang taong pagtatrabaho sa iba’t ibang employer, nagpasya siyang magtayo ng sari­ling negosyo sa edad na 55.

Una niyang sinubukan ang pagtitinda ng necklace accessories ngunit hindi ito nagtagal dahil ‘di pumatok sa mamimili.

Sunod niyang pinasok ang pagtitinda ng chorizo o longganisa ngunit dahil sa kakulangan sa puhunan, hindi na niya ito naipagpatuloy.

Nang dumating ang CARD sa Dumaguete noong 2009, nakita ni Aling Josefina na malaki ang naitulong nito sa kanyang pinsan upang magpatayo ng negosyo.

Kaya hindi nagdalawang-isip na sumali si Aling Josefina at nakakuha ng puhunan para sa naisip niyang negosyo  ang pagtitinda ng isda  dahil wala pang ganito sa kanyang bayan.

Nakakuha si Aling Josefina ng puhunang P4,000 mula sa CARD na kanyang ginamit upang bumili ng iba’t ibang uri ng isda, tulad ng galunggong, tuna at tilapia.


Makalipas ang walong taon, napalago na ni Aling Josefina ang kanyang negosyo. Ngayon, kumikita siya ng tatlumpung libong piso kada linggo dahil walang kakumpitensiya sa kanyang lugar.

Kinailangan na ring kumuha ni Aling Josefina ng dagdag na tauhan para makatulong sa pagtitinda sa dami ng bumibili sa kanya.


Kahit lumago na ang negosyo, patuloy pa ring umaasa si Aling Josefina sa CARD para sa iba niyang pangangailangan.

Sa walong taon niya bilang miyembro, labinlimang beses na siyang nakahiram sa CARD, kabilang na ang loan para sa pagpapaayos ng bahay ng kanyang pamilya.

Plano pa niyang kumuha ng dagdag na loan para sa pinaplanong tindahan ng pabango.


Sa tagal niya sa pagnenegosyo, natutuhan ni Aling Josefina na gamitin nang tama ang hawak na pera.

Aniya, mahalagang maglaan ng pera para sa iba’t ibang gastusin na may kinalaman sa pang-araw-araw na operasyon, tulad ng kuryente at pambayad sa mga tauhan.

Natutuhan din ni Aling Josefina na magtabi para sa kinabukasan ng kanyang pamilya, na hanggang ngayon ay kanyang nasusuportahan sa tulong ng CARD.


Itinuturing na pinakamalaking microfinance institution sa bansa, nagpapautang ang CARD-MRI ng puhunan sa mga nais magsimula ng negosyo nang walang kolateral at sa mababang interes.

Mayroon na silang iba’t ibang sangay sa Pilipinas, na makikita sa kanilang website na at


Ang Republic Act No. 10644 o Go Negosyo Act ang kauna-unahang batas ko bilang senador noong 16th Congress.

Layunin nito na maglagay ng Negosyo Center sa bawat munisipalidad, siyudad at lalawigan sa buong bansa.

Upang malaman ang pinakamalapit na Negosyo Center sa inyong lugar, magtungo sa

Bam: Respect people’s right to choose leaders

A senator urged the government to respect the people’s right to choose their next Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders amid the administration’s plan to postpone October village elections and appoint a new set of leaders.

“Our barangay elections are a way for us to exercise our democracy,” Sen. Bam Aquino said in a media interview

 “Mahalaga na galing sa taumbayan ang halal, especially at the smallest unit of governance, so that our officials are accountable to their constituents and serve the people. Appointing barangay officials will only strengthen the patronage system in our country,” he added.

 The senator also insisted a law is needed that will allow not just the postponement of the elections, but will grant the President the authority to appoint.

Sen. Bam insisted that elections must push through this October to give people a chance to choose their next barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders.

 Sen. Bam also stressed that reforms that lawmakers fought for in Republic Act No. 10742 or the SK Reform Act will go down the drain if the SK elections will be postponed anew.

“Maganda ang mga repormang nakapaloob sa batas na ito at napapanahon nang maipatupad. Mauuwi lang ito sa wala kung hindi na naman matutuloy ang halalan,” said Sen. Bam, who pushed for the law’s passage as co-author and co-sponsor in the 16th Congress during his time as chairman of the Committee on Youth.

 The first legislation with an anti-dynasty provision, the SK Reform Act prohibits relatives of elected officials up to 2nd civil degree of consanguinity or affinity from seeking SK posts.

The law adjusts age limit of SK officials from 15-17 to 18-24 years old, making them legally capable of entering into contracts and be held accountable and liable for their actions.

 Furthermore, SK officials will now be required to undergo leadership training programs to expose them to the best practices in governance and guide their development as leaders.

The new law also mandates the creation of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), a council that will support the SK and ensure the participation of more youth 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.

Bam: President and VP have no hand in impeachment cases

Sen. Bam Aquino believes President Duterte has no hand in the moves to impeach Vice President Leni Robredo.

“Iyong pagkasabi ni President Duterte na hindi siya involved, naniniwala naman ako doon. The same way na si VP Leni ay hindi involved sa pagpapaimpeach kay President Duterte,” Sen. Bam said in an interview.

“They both said na wala silang kinalaman, can’t we just leave it at that? Because in the end, mas gumugulo iyong bayan natin kapag pinag-aaway sila,” he added.

The senator criticized groups creating a division between Duterte and Robredo, saying the country will be at the losing end if the rift between the top two leaders continues.

Sen. Bam also urged allies of President Duterte to follow the Chief Executive’s order to stop moves to impeach Vice President Robredo.

“That’s already a sign, a signal and a message for his allies. Iyong mga grupo, iyong mga kaalyado ni President Duterte, sana makinig naman sa kanya,” Sen. Bam said,

Sen. Bam was referring to Duterte’s message to allies to stop any attempt to oust Robredo from her post, saying the vice president is only exercising her right to free expression.

Despite the President’s pronouncement, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and a group of lawyers both insisted that they will pursue Robredo’s impeachment.

“Kapag itutuloy pa iyan, sinabi naman ni Vice President Leni na handa naman siyang harapin ang kailangan niyang harapin. So tingnan na lang natin,” said Sen. Bam.

The senator also insisted that being critical does not equate to plotting for the removal of the president or the destabilization of his administration, adding that the vice president and the minority in the Senate will continue to point out lapses in governance.

Sen. Bam Aquino’s speech during necrological service for Former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani

Senate President Pimentel, the former Senate Presidents here, my colleagues former and current members of the Senate, distinguished colleagues, of course, the members of the Ramos and Shahani families, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan, magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.

Before anything else, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the loved ones of former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani.

The country has lost another brilliant and emphatic legislator, public servant and advocate.

Today, the Senate of the Philippines and everyone gathered here mourns the passing of an esteemed Filipina who served the Philippines as a diplomat, a lawmaker and an educator.

I am deeply humbled to be speaking before you today as we remember her legacy and embed her ideals within our hearts.

My first memory of Tita Letty was back in 1987, when a 9-year old Bam Aquino joined the campaign for the Lakas ng Bayan slate many of whom are still here.

Who could forget her catchy jingle? I would say one of the most famous and best political jingles ever. “Sha, sha, sha, Letty Ramos siya.”

Who could forget that jingle? I think it is embedded in all of our minds until today.

I may not have known it then, but today, more than ever, we realize the significance of electing a true advocate for women’s rights and gender equality into the Philippine Congress.

Even before she served as a senator, Letty Ramos-Shahani was already a champion for women in the Philippines and all around the world, serving as assistant secretary general for social development and humanitarian affairs in the United Nations from 1981 to 1986.

She was co-author of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and was given the chairmanship of the UN Commission on Women and the National Commission on the Role of the Filipino Women in 1987. Thankfully, she took her zeal from the United Nations into the Senate of the Philippines where she passed legislation that, in her words, “contributed much to raising the status of women in our country.”

In her two terms serving as a senator, she authored, among others, the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 and the Shahani Law – which strengthens the fight against gender discrimination among others.

More than just exhaustive pieces of paper signed by our country’s leaders, these laws have made a real and palpable impact on the lives of Filipinas and, in fact, every Filipino.

Just last year, our country ranked as the world’s seventh most gender-equal society, number one in Asia according to the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Gender Gap Report – a great achievement for our country, thanks in part to the contributions of the fierce women’s advocate who is Tita Letty.

And though there is still a lot of work to be done to rid our country of discrimination and to truly achieve social equity among Filipinos, I am grateful for the foundation laid down by Tita Letty.

Many regard the 8th and 9th Congresses, spanning the late 80s to early 90s, as a bright spot in Philippine legislation.

Personally, members of this batch many of whom are here today serve as my personal heroes.

For many of us who have come after this esteemed batch of senators, we feel deep gratitude for many of them because they charted the course that many of us are leading today.

May Tita Letty’s excellence, her experience, and her grace inspire and encourage more Filipinos to break through glass ceilings, and push our country forward to achieve equality for all.

Paalam po, Tita Letty.

It was an honor to campaign for you in 1987 and it is my distinct honor and privilege to pay homage to you today.

Maraming salamat, Senador Letty Ramos-Shahani.

Maraming salamat po.

BIDA KA!: Ginhawang hatid ng libreng tuition sa mga state U at colleges (SUCs)

Mga bida, maliban sa mahihirap na nais makatapos sa kolehiyo, isa pang nais suportahan ng Affordable Higher Education for All Act ay ang mga magulang na hindi sapat ang kinikita upang maitawid ang pag-aaral ng mga anak.

Sa botong 18-0, nakapasa sa Senado ang Affordable Higher Education for All Act na ang isa sa mga pangunahing layunin ay magbigay ng libreng tuition sa state colleges at universities (SUCs).

Ang inyong lingkod ang tumayong sponsor at co-author ng nasabing panukala, na layon ding palakasin ang scholarship programs ng pamahalaan sa mga nais namang magtapos sa pribadong educational institutions.

Inaasahan naming maipapasa ito sa House of Representatives at maisasabatas bago magsimula ang susunod na school year.


Mga bida, kadalasan, marami sa mga estudyante sa SUCs ay mga anak ng karaniwang empleyado na pinagkakasya lang ang buwanang kita para makatapos sa pag-aaral sa kolehiyo.

Kabilang na rito sina Carolyn Dale Castaneda ng Mountain Province Polytechnic State College, Cristina Jane Rentino ng Aklan State University at Clodith Silvosa ng Davao del Norte State College.

Iba’t iba man ang pinanggalingang lugar sa Pilipinas, iisa lang ang sitwasyon ng tatlong estudyante na sumasalamin din sa kalagayan ng marami pang estudyante sa ating SUCs.

Nasa 4th year na ng kursong BS Teacher Education si Carolyn. Noong nagtatrabaho ang kanyang ina bilang teller, nag-aaral siya sa St. Louis University sa Baguio.

Nang pumanaw ang ina sa liver sclerosis, naiwan ang kanilang ama bilang tanging bumubuhay sa pamilya bilang geodetic engineer na may P30,000 suweldo kada buwan.


Dalawa sa mga kapatid ni Carolyn ay nasa kolehiyo na at ang isa ay nasa junior high school. Dahil kapos sa pera, napilitan si Carolyn na lumipat sa Mountain Province Polytechnic State College, kung saan ang tuition ay P4,000.

Mura man ang tuition ni Carolyn, kailangan namang maglaan ng kanyang ama ng P10,000 para sa tuition ng dalawa pa niyang kapatid. Kung susumahin, kalahati ng kita ng ama ay napunta na sa tuition pa lang. Paano pa ang kanilang pagkain at iba pang gastusin sa araw-araw?


Tulad ni Carolyn, si Cristina ay nasa ikaapat na taon na sa kursong BS Education.

Ang kanyang ina ay accountant sa Aklan State University at ang kanyang ama ay technician sa Agricultural Training Institute. Sumusuweldo sila ng kabuuang P45,000 kada buwan.

Nasa P4,000 lang ang tuition si Cristina ngunit umaabot naman sa P50,000 ang bayarin sa eskuwela ng iba pa niyang kapatid.

Kaya napilitang mangutang sa kooperatiba, bangko at ma­ging sa mga kaibigan at katrabaho ang kanyang mga magulang upang matustusan ang kanilang pag-aaral.

Sa dami ng utang, kinailangang maghigpit ng sinturon ang pamilya. Naapektuhan ang panggastos sa kanilang tahanan, pati na sa mga pangangailangan sa eskuwelahan.


Sa sitwasyon ni Clodith, nanay lang niya ang nagtatrabaho sa pamilya dahil may prostate cancer ang ama. Sa suweldong P35,000 ng ina bilang Senior Aquaculturist sa Provincial Agriculturist Office nabubuhay ang pamilya.

Nasa P10,000 ang tuition ni Clodith habang P1,000 naman ang gastos ng kanyang kapatid sa pag-aaral.

Nauubos ang suweldo ng kanyang ina sa pagpapagamot sa amang maysakit at sa iba pang gastusin sa bahay.

Para makatulong, nagtatrabaho si Clodith bilang student assistant para matustusan ang kanyang pang-araw-araw na allowance.


Naniniwala ang tatlo na napakalaking tulong ang Affordable Higher Education for All Act sa pagpapagaan ng kanilang kalagayan sa buhay.

Sa halip nga naman na ibayad sa tuition, magagamit ng pamilya ang pera sa iba pang mahalagang gastusin at pangangailangan sa bahay.

Ito ang ginhawang hatid ng Affordable Higher Education for All Act sa mga magulang na hindi sapat ang kita upang mapagtapos sa kolehiyo ang mga anak.

Kaya siguraduhin po natin na mapirmahan ito ng pangulo at maisabatas and libreng tuition sa ating mga state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Bam lays down priority measures of SciTech committee

Sen. Bam Aquino met with scientists and other stakeholders to tackle and iron out the priority measures of the Committee on Science and Technology, which he chairs.

 “Ngayong naipasa na ng kumite ang libreng internet sa mga pampublikong lugar, sunod naman nating tututukan ang Balik Scientist Bill at Innovative Startup Act para matulungan ang ating mga kababayan sa larangan ng agham at teknolohiya,” said Sen. Bam.

 During the round-table discussion, Sen. Bam presented Senate Bill 1183 or the Balik Scientist Bill, Senate Bill No. 175 or the Innovative Startup Act and Senate Bill No. 679 or the Magna Carta for Scientists to help address the issue as priority measures of his committee.

 Before the Senate went on a session break, it passed Senate Bill No. 1277 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act on third and final reading via 18-0 vote.

 “There are initiatives that should be beyond politics. As Chairman of the Committee on SciTech, we need to lay the foundation of a modern and prosperous society. Proper utilization of SciTech will be crucial in this aspiration,” added Sen. Bam.

 The Balik Scientist Bill seeks to provide overseas Filipino scientist with financial benefits and incentives to encourage to return to the Philippines and help boost the country’s research and development.

 The measure aims to institutionalize the Balik Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which successfully encouraged some of our scientists to return and contribute to research that will address development gaps in the Philippines.

 The Balik Scientist Program provides financial incentives for overseas Filipino scientists and facilitates their return to work on either a short-term or long-term basis.

 “We also want the Balik Scientist Program to involve our schools and the private sector. Let’s exhaust all efforts to repatriate our talented Filipino scientists,” Sen. Bam said.

The Innovative Startup Act, for its part, seeks to give necessary support for business startups to help them thrive and compete in the market.

The amendments to the Magna Carta for Scientists aims to streamline the process of providing benefits and incentives to S&T government personnel.

Sen. Bam hopes to craft a working draft before session resumes on May 2 for the amendments to the Magna Carta for Scientists (RA 8439) and the institutionalization of the Balik Scientists Program.

During the round-table discussion, stakeholders also raised several issues that hamper the development of science and technology in the country, including lack of support from government.

Sen. Bam said the government’s science and technology initiatives must be fine-tuned to address these problems.

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