Month: April 2018

Govt must act to stop escalating militarization of West PH Sea: Liberal stalwarts

Partido Liberal stalwarts on Wednesday slammed the government for its inaction on the country’s territorial claims on the West Philippine Sea amid reports that China’s two war planes landed on the reef.
“We demand transparency in the administration’s dealings with China. What else is the Philippines giving up to this new friendship?” asked Sen. Bam Aquino.
“Hindi ba dapat ipaglaban ang ating teritoryo, lalo na para sa mga mangingisda natin? Sinayang lang ng administrasyon ang panalo natin sa Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA),” added Sen. Aquino, referring to the PCA’s decision that the Philippines own the disputed territories.
Sen. Aquino said if the government is determined and sincere in protecting the country’s territory, then it should assert our victory in the PCA.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, Partido Liberal president, said the escalating militarization of the West Philippine Sea, taken with the Philippine government’s obliging attitude and behavior toward China, is unacceptable.
“Nagiging barangay na ba ng China ang Pilipinas?” he asked.
Pangilinan also pointed out that this sovereignty and security issue should have been discussed in the President’s recent visit to China.
“Hindi ba ito napag-usapan ng ating Presidente noong bumisita siya sa China kamakailan?” he asked.
What happened to jet ski promise?
Former lawmaker Erin Tanada, Partido Liberal’s vice president for external affairs, said that if Duterte cannot fulfill his campaign promise to ride a jet ski and plant a Philippine flag in the disputed territory, he must at least fight for it through the PCA decision.
“Ipakita sana ni Duterte ang tapang na ipinakita niya noong kampanya, laban sa China at hindi ang pagtikum-bibig habang nilalabag ang ating kasarinlan,” Tanada said.
Tanada reiterated that the presence of Chinese military transport planes on Panganiban Reef is another intrusion in our sovereign territory.
“We seek clarification from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of Foreign Affairs on this incident. Are Philippine authorities aware of this? Are these passages or landing allowed?  What is China bringing next after these transport planes — war planes?” Tanada said.
“Dapat nating tutulan itong patuloy na panloloob bilang bahagi ng ating paninindigan sa desisyon ng Arbitral Tribunal. We should be on guard against any move that could be prejudicial to order, and peace and security in the territory,” Tanada added.

Sen. Bam challenges youth to serve countrymen, run for SK

Senator Bam Aquino encouraged the youth who want to serve their countrymen and make a positive impact in their communities by running in the May 14 Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election.
“Hinihikayat natin ang mga kabataan na nais maglingkod sa kapwa at sa bayan na tumakbo sa ilalim ng bago at pinalakas na SK,” said Sen. Bam, who pushed for the passage of Republic Act 10742 or the SK Reform Act as co-sponsor and co-author during his term as chairman of the Committee on Youth in the 16th Congress.
“Ito na ang pagkakataon ng kabataan para magserbisyo at solusyunan ang mga problema ng komunidad,” added Sen. Bam.
Sen. Bam also invited youth leaders to file their certificate of candidacy from April 14-20 and run for the new SK. The election will be on May 14.
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.
More importantly, the SK Reform Act has the distinction of being the first law in the country with an anti-political dynasty provision. It prohibits relatives of elected officials up to 2nd civil degree of consanguinity or affinity from seeking SK posts.

Sen. Bam renews call to review TRAIN as families struggle with rising prices

After a series of consultations with urban poor communities, Sen. Bam Aquino once again stressed the need to review the government’s tax reform program, saying families are struggling with the considerable jump in prices of goods and services. 

 “Marami nang dumadaing at naaalarma sa mataas na presyo ng bilihin na dulot tax reform program ng pamahalaan,” said Sen. Bam, alluding to Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.

“Karamihan sa mga nakausap namin, nagrereklamo na Dati piso-piso lang ang taas, ngayon ang laki na. Ang laki na ng nabawas sa nabibili nating grocery para sa ating pamilya,” said Sen. Bam.

While Sen. Bam acknowledged that the TRAIN has increased the take-home pay of ordinary workers, for some, the additional pay is not enough to cover the rise in prices of basic goods in the market.

Recently, Sen. Bam filed Senate Resolution No. 704, urging the appropriate Senate Committees to conduct an inquiry on the TRAIN’s inflationary impact and effect on the economy, particularly the P7 and P2.50 excise tax increase on gasoline and diesel, respectively.

 When Congress approved the inclusion of increased excise taxes in the TRAIN Law, the Department of Finance assured lawmakers that its impact on inflation would not be more than 0.7 percent.

However, latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the country’s inflation rate for March hit 4.3 percent, beyond the government’s projection of two to four percent.

“Ngayong lumampas na ang inflation sa pagtaya ng pamahalaan, marapat lang na muli nating pag-aralan ang pagpapataw ng excise tax sa produktong petrolyo,” said Sen. Bam.

In addition, Sen. Bam filed Senate Resolution No. 597, urging the appropriate Senate committee to scrutinize the implementation of the unconditional cash transfer to ensure that it is sufficient to cover the increase in prices of goods and other services.

Sen. Bam enlists help of Negosyo Centers to support vendors, freelancers during Boracay closure

Senator Bam Aquino said concerned government agencies should also help small businesses in Boracay as they are also will be affected by the administration’s six-month closure order on the island.

“Huwag nating kalimutan ang mga maliliit na negosyante, mga vendor at sumiside-line na tatamaan din sa pagsasara ng Boracay. Tumataas na nga ang presyo ng bilihin, mawawalan pa sila ng kita at kabuhayan,” said Sen. Bam. 

“Kailangan ng malinaw na plano at programa para sa mga maliliit na negosyo, tulad ng mga nagbebenta ng chori burger at naghehenna. Siguraduhin dapat ng gobyerno na may sapat na kita at kabuhayan pa rin ang ating mga kababayan sa Boracay ,” added Sen. Bam. 

Sen. Bam said Negosyo Centers in Aklan and other nearby areas play an important role in keeping micro and small enterprises in the area afloat by connecting them to other markets and provide them with alternative livelihood. 

“Maaaring iugnay ng Negosyo Centers ang mga maliliit na negosyante sa iba’t ibang merkado habang naghihintay na bumalik sa normal ang operasyon ng Boracay,” said Sen. Bam, principal sponsor and author of Republic Act No. 10644 or the Go Negosyo Act.

The law was the first of 19 laws passed by Sen. Bam. 

Passed during Sen. Bam’s term as chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship in the 16th Congress, the Go Negosyo Act mandates the establishment of Negosyo Centers in all municipalities, cities and provinces that will assist micro, small and medium enterprises in the country. 

Negosyo Centers provide access to markets and financing for businesses, training programs, and a simplified business registration process, thus helping ease of doing business and fast-track government processes in putting up a business.

As of latest tally, there are more than 800 Negosyo Centers in different parts of the country, including around 10 in Aklan, ready to cater to the needs of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Sen. Bam: Fact-check coalition will strengthen fight against online disinformation, fake news

Senator Bam Aquino welcomed Facebook’s initiative to push through with a local-fact checking coalition aimed at addressing spread of fake news on its platform.

“We’re glad Facebook has decided to enter into a local fact-checking coalition in the aftermath of its failure to protect millions of personal data from being exposed,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam was referring to Facebook’s move to partner with Rappler and Vera Files for a third-party fact-checking program in the Philippines to prevent fake news from spreading on its social media platform.

“With disinformation spreading like wildfire through social media, it’s encouraging to see Facebook take a stronger stance on this issue and partner with agencies that are genuinely fighting fake news,” added Sen. Bam.

Facebook’s move came days after it was revealed that the accounts of 87 million users worldwide were accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a communications firm accused of harvesting data of millions of Facebook users to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Of that number, around 1,175,870 Filipino users may have had their Facebook information improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, according to Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer.

Sen. Bam actively participated in fake news hearings conducted by the Senate. During one of the hearings, Sen. Bam urged Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar to help fight the spread of fake news through Facebook accounts using the name of President Duterte.

Sen. Bam urged the PCOO chief to police his own ranks, saying blogs written by some of his employees in their private capacity hurt the image of the agency.

Also, Sen. Bam called on both supporters and detractors of President Duterte to stop throwing hate speech at each on social media, saying the environment has become toxic.

Dengvaxia report a cover-up to government fiascos: Partido Liberal stalwarts

Partido Liberal stalwarts questioned the timing of the release of the committee report on the Dengvaxia issue, saying it could be a move to cover up controversies hounding the administration.

This is simply a smokescreen of the administration to hide the issues hounding its officials,” said former congressman Erin Tanada, now Partido Liberal’s vice president for external affairs.

“Why was the committee report released to the public before it has been filed or sponsored? Are not the signatures of majority of the committee members required before the report can be filed?” Tanada asked.

“What happens to the report if the majority disagrees? Wala pang pirma eh,” he added.

Sen. Bam Aquino agreed with Tanada. 

“Though this report has not been made available to the members of the Blue Ribbon Committee, if the final report reflects yesterday’s statements and political leanings, we will have serious concerns with the conclusions made,” Aquino said.

Moreover, the senator reiterated that no child has died due to the Dengvaxia vaccine. “Ang isang mahalaga na lumabas sa presscon kahapon ay wala pang napatutunayan na may batang namatay dahil sa Dengvaxia vaccine,” he said.

Tanada pointed out that the release coincided with the impending closure of Boracay Island, the President’s order to the House to hasten the impeachment process against Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, and the rising prices of goods and services.

“Nais na naman nilang ilihis ang isyu mula sa kapalpakan at kontrobersyang bumabalot sa administrasyong ito para matuon sa LP ang galit ng taumbayan,” said Tanada.

For his part, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat doubted the fairness of Gordon’s report, saying that it focused mainly on the past administration, but did not dwell on the current government.

“Hindi lang sa nakaraang administrasyon ipinatupad ang bakuna sa Dengvaxia kundi sa kasalukuyang administrasyon. Nakakapagtaka na nakatuon lang ang report ni Sen. Gordon sa nakalipas na administrasyon,” said Baguilat.

Sen. Bam: Gov’t is duty-bound to review TRAIN, protect poor from price surge

As Filipinos deal with high prices of goods and services due to the additional excise tax on petroleum products and with the country’s inflation rate shooting up to 4.3 percent in March, a senator urged his colleagues to revisit Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.

 In his Senate Resolution No. 704, Sen. Bam Aquino wants the appropriate Senate Committees to conduct an inquiry on the TRAIN’s inflationary impact and effect on the economy.

Sen. Bam underscored the need to take another look at the government’s tax reform program amid the rise in prices due to the imposition of additional excise tax on fuel.

 “It is our duty to ensure all reforms benefit our countrymen and do not make life more difficult for Filipino families,” said Sen. Bam, who voted to reject the TRAIN Law during its ratification.

“Kailangan suriin muli ang TRAIN. Maging bukas tayo sa pagsuspindi sa excise tax kapag nakitang nakasasama na ito sa kabuhayan ng mga Pilipino,” emphasized Sen. Bam, referring to the increase in tax on gasoline and diesel to P7 and P2.50, respectively.

Sen. Bam pointed out that Congress approved the inclusion of increased excise taxes in the TRAIN Law due to assurance by the Department of Finance that its impact on inflation would not be more than 0.7 percent.

However, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced that the inflation rate for March rose to 4.3 percent, way above the government’s prediction of two to four percent.

“Huwag nating hayaang lumala pa ang kahirapan at pagkagutom ng mga Pilipino,” said Sen. Bam.

Earlier, Sen. Bam filed Senate Resolution No. 597, urging the appropriate Senate committee to scrutinize the implementation of the unconditional cash transfer to ensure that it is sufficient to cover the increase in prices of goods and other services.

Sen. Bam on the resignation of Justice Secretary Aguirre

Natutuwa tayo at nagkakaisa ang oposisyon at ang Pangulo sa isyung ito.  

Sa mata ng taumbayan, pawala na nang pawala ang kredibilidad ni dating Justice Secretary Aguirre sa bawat kapalpakan at palihis na kilos nito.   

The Filipino people deserve a credible, capable and respectable Justice Secretary who will lead with integrity and rebuild our trust in the Department of Justice. 

Muli nating ibalik ang tiwala ng taumbayan sa DOJ bilang tanggapan na nagtataguyod ng hustisya para sa bawat Pilipino, lalo na sa mga walang kalaban-laban.

Sen. Bam: Gov’t must act quickly to address high prices of rice

Senator Bam Aquino insisted that the government should do more than give assurance that there’s enough supply of rice in the market, saying it should also quickly address the rising prices of commercial rice and the lack of NFA Rice in the market.

“Hindi sapat ang katiyakan na mayroong supply ng bigas sa merkado. Kailangang kumilos ang pamahalaan para mapababa ang presyo ng commercial rice at tiyaking may supply ng murang NFA Rice na mabibili ang mga pamilyang Pilipino,” said Sen. Bam.

“May mga kababayan tayo na kanin na nga lang ang kinakain, tapos nagmahal pa ang bigas. Saan pa sila pupunta,” added Sen. Bam, insisting that the government should conduct an audit of the 2017 buffer stock to determine what happened to it.

 “Dapat tiyakin ng pamahalaan na natutupad ang itinakdang 15-day buffer stock ng murang bigas upang matiyak na mayroong mabibiling abot-kayang bigas ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mahihirap,” Sen. Bam said.

During a Senate hearing on the rice issue, National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jason Aquino admitted that the agency has failed to comply with the 15-day buffer stock policy for almost one year, prompting Sen. Bam to call for his resignation.

“Hinahayaan lang ng NFA na lumaki ang problema na dulot ng kanilang kapalpakan. Dapat lang na palitan na ang NFA administrator at magtakda ng bagong pinuno na may kakayahang solusyunan ito,” Sen. Bam said.

On Monday, Sen. Bam renewed his call for the NFA administrator’s resignation following reports that the NFA’s rice reserve was already depleted.

Sen. Bam said situation has forced Filipino families to spend more for rice as they have no other option but to buy costly commercial rice.

 “Ang 35 pesos per kilo ng bigas noon, 45 pesos na ngayon. Limandaang piso ang dagdag nito sa gastusin ng pamilyang Pilipino kada buwan kung isang kilong bigas ang kanilang nakokonsumo bawat araw. Nangyari ito dahil sa kapabayaan ng NFA sa kanilang tungkulin,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam calls for review of TRAIN amid inflation, rising prices

A senator insisted on evaluating the government tax reform program as he expressed alarm over the latest inflation projections on top of the rising prices of petroleum products and rice in the market.

“Nakakaalarma na para sa mga pamilya ang pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin. Ngayon, mas mataas pa sa inaasahan ng pamahalaan ang inflation rate,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, referring to several projections that the inflation rate might range from 4.2 percent to 4.8 percent due to higher excise tax. 

 The latest projections were beyond the government’s forecast of between two to four percent, according to Sen. Bam.

“We should evaluate the tax reform law and consider suspending excise taxes given the surge in prices,” added Sen. Bam, who plans to file a resolution to assess the real impact on inflation and economy of the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

 “Congress should determine the real and actual impact of TRAIN on the economy and especially on the lives of Filipinos,” said Sen. Bam, adding that the sharp rise in inflation could lead to a higher cost of living and can aggravate poverty. 

 “The continued implementation of TRAIN could lead to greater marginalization and suffering for many Filipino families,” Sen. Bam emphasized.

During the Senate hearings on TRAIN, Sen. Bam said the Department of Finance (DOF) insisted that the tax reform program’s inflationary impact would not be higher than 0.7 percent, meaning inflation should not go higher than 3.6 percent in 2018.

“We have to review the implementation of excise taxes as it was passed by Congress based on wrong information,” said Sen. Bam. 

Earlier, Sen. Bam voted to reject the TRAIN Law during its ratification. 

Sen. Bam also filed Senate Resolution No. 597, urging the appropriate Senate committee to scrutinize the implementation of the unconditional cash transfer to ensure that it is sufficient to cover the increase in prices of goods and other services.

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