Month: March 2018

Sen. Bam to join ‘The Resistance’, genuine opposition slate

Senator Bam Aquino insisted that he will join a genuine opposition slate for the 2019 midterm elections, saying the country needs a coalition that is willing to dissent and oppose government policies that are not helpful or even detrimental to the Filipino people.
In a television interview, Sen. Bam clarified that he has never spoken to Sen. Koko Pimentel about PDP-Laban or Mayor Sara Duterte about Hugpong ng Pagbabago. 
“In 2019, hindi lang ‘The Force’ kailangan, we need ‘The Resistance’ – a genuine opposition slate. Kailangan ng mga taong magsasama-sama, magtutulong-tulong para labanan ang polisiya ng administrasyon na nakakasakit sa tao. You will find me on that slate,” said Sen. Bam.
“You need a slate that’s independent from PDP-Laban, that’s willing to oppose, willing to stand up even if it’s unpopular, and even when it’s dangerous. Kailangan natin ng oposisyon para sa ating demokrasya,” the senator added.
Sen. Bam said the Liberal Party (LP) will join the coalition slate, which will be made up of people willing to speak out and stand up against Malacanang’s policies that may be damaging to the people.
“The people willing to answer the call should join forces,” Sen. Bam pointed out.
Sen. Bam also stressed the importance for the 2019 elections to push through to show the true sentiment of the people.
“Let’s fight any no-election scenario that might be in the works,” Sen. Bam said.
However, Sen. Bam said it’s too early to talk about politics, saying the country is facing problems that need to be addressed immediately.
“Mas maraming isyu na dapat pag-usapan ngayon kaysa sa pulitika at eleksiyon, na isang taon pa bago mangyari,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam to gov’t: Protect 1.4M BPO jobs from impending threats

A senator reminded relevant government agencies to protect the 1.4 million jobs in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector from identified threats and prepare for the next Senate hearing.

“Our resource speakers have identified 3 major threats to jobs in the BPO sector: Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), the tax reform law and the shifting economic policies of other countries. We must prepare for these threats and not be caught flat-footed,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, who recently held a second hearing on threats to the BPO sector as the chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.

“Hindi maaaring mawalan ng kabuhayan ang Pilipino, lalo na sa panahon ngayon,” he added.

During the first Senate hearing on the threat of AI, the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) mentioned that they are anticipating a decline in demand for low-skilled jobs in the IT-BPO industry of about 43,000 jobs by 2022.

On the bright side, there is potential to open up 388,000 jobs for mid-skilled tasks, and 309,000 jobs for high-skilled tasks also by 2022, jobs that Sen. Bam hopes the Filipino workforce can be ready for.

“The clear solution is to retrain our workers and upgrade their skills to be viable for higher job levels. Our training centers and academic institutions must start offering courses for these higher-skilled BPO jobs. Kailangan din na mayroong scholarships at TESDA vouchers,” said Sen. Bam, who also pushed the free college law as principal sponsor in the Senate.

However, Sen. Bam says the government agencies are not working quick enough.

“I want to see urgency in our agencies to move this forward quickly and with purpose. This is the first time in years that the BPO industry will be at risk. We need to protect our countrymen’s jobs,” said Sen. Bam.


Sen. Bam continues productive streak, even in minority bloc

Senator Bam Aquino once again proved his willingness and ability to pass significant reforms, even after his removal as chairman of the education committee and confinement into the minority bloc.

“Kahit tayo’y nasa minorya at oposisyon, hindi ito hadlang para magtrabaho para sa ikabubuti ng bansa at ng lahat ng Pilipino,” said Sen. Bam.

Hard at work as chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology, measures to support scientists and researchers are now closer to becoming law.

One is the Balik-Scientist Act, with the bicameral conference committee report now ratified by both Houses of Congress and waiting to be transmitted to Malacanang for President Duterte’s approval.

Another is Senate Bill No. 1534, which seeks to amend Republic Act 8439 or the Magna Carta for Scientists to give scientists commensurate benefits.

The measure has been approved by the Senate on third and final reading and will be tackled by the bicameral conference committee anytime soon. 

The Open Access in Data Transmission Bill was sponsored in the Senate before session adjourned on Wednesday (March 21) while the Innovative Start-up Act is already being tackled in the plenary. Sen. Bam is the principal sponsor of all four measures.

Also, Sen. Bam spearheaded investigations into the National Broadband Plan, the Philippine Rise issue and the “nakaw load” controversy that has affected millions of prepaid mobile phone subscribers.

Sen. Bam also led the passage of Senate Bill No. 1698 or the Reservist Employment Rights Act.  The bill was approved by the Senate on third and final reading via a 16-0 vote.

Sen. Bam has 19 laws to his name, the latest being Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which he passed as principal sponsor during his 8-month stint as chairman of the Committee on Education, Culture and Arts.

Sen. Bam: Balik-Scientist Act one signature away from becoming law, to boost country’s R&D

Senator Bam Aquino expects the country’s research and development to get a much-needed boost, now that the Balik-Scientist Act is one signature away from becoming a law.

“This is our way of supporting the field of research, science and technology in the country, which has been undervalued for too long. We hope the President can sign this into law and show his support and appreciation for Filipino scientists,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.

The Senate and House both ratified the bicameral conference committee version, which will now be transmitted to Malacanang for President Duterte’s signature.

Once it becomes a law, Sen. Bam said it will help address the country’s lack of scientists. As of last tally, the country has 189 scientists per million, a far cry from the ideal ratio of 380 scientists per million.

Sen. Bam pointed out that the Philippines falls behind South Korea and United States, which have 5,300 and 3,500 scientists per million, respectively. Malaysia, for its part, has 2,000 scientists per million.

 “With the Balik-Scientist Act, we expect Filipino scientists to return to the Philippines and help strengthen our research and development,” said Sen. Bam, the principal sponsor of the measure in the Senate.

If enacted into law, the Balik Scientist Act will provide overseas Filipino scientists with financial benefits and incentives to encourage them to return to the Philippines and help boost the country’s research and development.

Sen. Bam is also the principal sponsor and co-author of the Amendments to the Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, and Researchers bill and the Innovative Start-up Act, which is currently being tackled in the plenary.

Sen. Bam has passed 19 laws in over 4 years as a senator.

Sen. Bam: Vote Barangay, SK leaders who will protect you

With the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections slated to push through as scheduled, Sen. Bam Aquino urged voters to choose the right leaders who will lead and protect their communities.

“Tuloy na tuloy na ang barangay at Sangguniang Kabataan elections,” Sen. Bam said in a radio interview, despite the passage of a House measure calling for the postponement of the village polls on third and final reading.

“Walang ipapasa na postponement sa Senado. Wala nang makapipigil pa sa halalan sa Mayo 14,” stressed Sen. Bam, adding that the people should be given a chance to choose their next community leaders.

At the same time, the senator called on the public to choose their next leaders wisely, saying they should elect morally upright candidates and not those who are involved in illegal activities.

“Piliin natin ang mga pinunong lalaban para sa komunidad, malinis, tapat at walang kinalaman sa anumang krimen,” said Sen. Bam. “Piliin natin ang pinuno na sisiguraduhing ligtas ang ating mga komunidad sa mga krimen at pang aabuso ng mga nasa kapangyarihan.”

The upcoming village polls will mark the first implementation of Republic Act 10742 or the SK Reform Act, the first law in the country that has an anti-political dynasty provision.

“Pagkakataon rin ito para makita natin kung epektibo ang SK Reform Act at kung makatutugon ito sa pangangailangan ng kabataan,” said Sen. Bam, who pushed for its passage as co-author and co-sponsor during his time as chairman of the Committee on Youth in the 16th Congress.

The law adjusts the age limit for 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.

The SK Reform Act also requires SK officials 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.

Sen. Bam to gov’t agencies: Don’t make poor Filipinos wait further for affordable rice

The National Food Authority (NFA) and other concerned government agencies should get their acts together swiftly to normalize the supply of affordable rice in the market for poor Filipinos, according to Sen. Bam Aquino.

“Ang problemang ito, hindi na puwedeng maghintay at ito ang pakiramdam ng maraming Pilipino. At the soonest possible time, dapat magkaroon na ng mas murang bigas sa merkado,” said Sen. Bam during an urban poor sector meeting in Tondo, Manila together with Vice President Leni Robredo.

“Iyong papahintayin mo ang kapwa Pilipino na tatlong buwan, anim na buwan, hindi na acceptable iyon kasi isang taon na po itong mismanagement na nangyayari,” added Sen. Bam, referring to the NFA’s failure to meet the 15-day buffer stock for NFA Rice since March of last year.

Sen. Bam said the NFA and the NFA Council should iron out their differences and address the lack of supply of NFA Rice in the market so as to spare the public from high prices of rice in the market.

“Sila ang nag-aaway pero tayo ang nagkakaproblema. Sana magkasundo na at nang maaral ang pinaka-mainam na paraan sa lalong madaling panahon upang mabigyan na ng murang bigas ang ating mahihirap na kababayan,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam said poor families have to spend an additional P500 a month as they have no other option but to purchase commercial rice, due to lack of NFA Rice in the market. 

“Batay sa pag-aaral, 20 porsiyento ng gastos ng pamilyang Pilipino ay napupunta sa bigas kaya mahalagang magkaroon na ng solusyon dito. Kaya babantayan natin ito hanggang magkaroon na sila ng solusyon dito,” Sen. Bam stressed.

Sen. Bam, who has been actively participating in the Senate hearing on issues hounding the NFA, called for the resignation of NFA administrator Jason Aquino for his failure to ensure the supply of NFA Rice for poor Filipinos.

“Maglagay tayo ng tao na kayang gawin ang mandato ng NFA, at iyong ang pagkakaroon ng murang bigas sa merkado at hindi gagawa ng kung anu-anong rason,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam: Employment rights for military reserve forces gets full support of Senate

The Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading the measure that will provide job security and other benefits for military reservists, according to its principal sponsor and co-author, Sen. Bam Aquino.
Via 16-0 vote with no abstention, the Senate approved Senate Bill No. 1698 or the Reservist Employment Rights Act, which promotes the welfare of military reservists in return for their service to the country.
“Ito’y pagkilala natin sa malaking tulong ng ating reservist sa militar, lalo na kapag may kalamidad at sa paglaban sa terorismo,” said Sen. Bam. 
Sen. Bam said reservists played a key role in the fight to free Marawi City from the clutches of the Maute Group and in rescue and rehabilitation efforts during calamities.
Sen. Bam pushed for the bill’s passage after he was informed during dialogues with members and officials of the Army Reserve Command that some reservists are in danger of losing their jobs as they perform their duty to the country.
“While they risk their lives for the country, they are at risk of losing their livelihood, which should not be the case,” said Sen. Bam, referring to reservists who are entrepreneurs, I.T. professionals, teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, sales agents, security guards and employees of different government agencies.
If enacted into law, the Reservist Employment Rights Act will ensure proper training and compensation for reservists, on top of protection from discrimination in job hiring, reintegration, promotion, or any benefit of employment.
The measure also protects reservists who suffer any injury or disability during their service, ensuring their reintegration to the civilian work force, so long as they can perform the essential function of their original employment.
“Our reservists chose to put their lives on the line for our safety and security. We owe it to them to professionalize the Reserve Force and assure them their employment rights,” stressed Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam Aquino on DOJ’s failure to uphold justice

Sa loob ng isang linggo, napalaya ng Department of Justice ang mga drug lord at naipasok ang reyna ng pork barrel scam sa witness protection program.

Nasaan ang hustisya para sa mga biktima ng War on Drugs at para sa taumbayang nanakawan ng pinaghirapang yaman?

We’d like to remind the DOJ that their mandate is to enact justice for the Filipino people, not to protect drug lords and criminal masterminds.

For the ordinary Filipino to have any hope for justice, the DOJ must stop perpetrating the culture of impunity in our country and begin upholding the rule of law.

The President should put his house in order. Secretary Aguirre should resign to give way to a credible and capable Justice Secretary.

Sen. Bam insists on refund of 2nd semester tuition and miscellaneous fees for SUC students

While the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act is considered a milestone, Sen. Bam Aquino said the agency should prioritize the refund for second semester of school year 2017-18.

“Masaya tayo na mayroon nang klarong IRR para sa pagpapatupad nito sa susunod na school year. Pero kailangan pa rin ipaglaban ang refund para sa mga nagbayad ng tuition fee o miscellaneous fees noong 2nd semester,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931.

In previous interviews, CHED officer-in-charge Prospero de Vera admitted that the original intention was to implement the law in the second semester of school year 2017-18, which is actively being pushed by Sen. Bam.

The CHED OIC also mentioned that they are unable to cover the miscellaneous fees for the 2nd semester of this school year due to legal issues with the budget. 

 However, Sen. Bam challenged this by saying that they consulted and worked with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO) and CHED to ensure no legal impediments in using the budget to cover tuition and miscellaneous fees for the second semester 2017-2018. 

 “Sapat ang pondo para sa tuition at miscellaneous fees ng 2018, pati na ang kasalukuyang 2nd semester. Napag-usapan na rin ang legality noong budget deliberations. Kaya dapat lang na may refund and mga estudyante,” said Sen. Bam, the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education.

 “The CHED should attend a public hearing in the Senate to justify to lawmakers, and especially students and parents, for its refusal to implement the law in the second semester of the current school year,” added Sen. Bam.

The Senate expressed its full support behind the full implementation of the free college law for the second semester of school year 2017-18, when it unanimously adopted Sen. Bam’s Resolution No. 620. However, CHED remains silent on the Senate’s move.

 Sen. Bam also reminded CHED of its earlier commitment during budget deliberation for RA 10931 that the P41 billion budget for its implementation was sufficient to cover the tuition and other fees in SUCs starting second semester of 2017-18.

“Magandang CHED mismo ang magpaliwanag sa mga senador, mga magulang at mga estudyante na umaasang maipatutupad ang batas ngayong second semester,” said Sen. Bam.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bam said he will scrutinize the IRR for the free college law to ensure that the law’s original intent will be fully implemented and students will benefit from it.

Sen. Bam: Scientists now one step closer in securing well-deserved benefits

The measure that will streamline the process of providing benefits and incentives to Science and Technology (S&T) government personnel has been approved by the Senate on third and final reading.

Via a 15-0 vote, the Senate approved Senate Bill No. 1534, which seeks to amend Republic Act 8439 or the Magna Carta for Scientists to enable government to give benefits and incentives to scientists, engineers, researchers and other (S&T) government personnel.

 “Ngayong pataas ng pataas na ang presyo ng bilihin, kailangang i-secure ang kabuhayan at benepisyo ng mga Pilipino, kabilang na riyan ang ating mga scientist, engineer at iba pang may kinalaman sa pagsasaliksik,” said Sen. Bam, the principal sponsor and co-author of the measure as chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.

“As SciTech Chair, we must show our scientists, engineers and researchers that they are valuable by ensuring they get the right support and the right benefits,” stressed Sen. Bam, adding that he will continue to push for programs and measures to support research and development opportunities in our country.

Sen. Bam saw the need to amend RA 8439 to avert the exodus of S&T professionals from crucial government agencies such as PAGASA and PHILVOLCS for greener pastures abroad. Among the reasons mentioned for their departure are uncompetitive local compensation and protracted processing of hazard pay.

If enacted into law, Senate Bill No. 1534 will remove set limits on honoraria for S&T professionals in government even when sourced from external grants and foster ease in accessing benefits for S&T personnel in departments and agencies other than the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

 “It is high time we deliberately retain and empower our Filipino scientists, engineers, researchers and other S&T practitioners, so we may harness the benefits of S&T to further our national agenda,” said Sen. Bam.


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