Senate Bill 1798: Automatic Suspension of the Excise Tax on Fuel Under RA 10963 (TRAIN Law)

Philippine laws must protect, serve and empower the Filipino people.

One major threat we need to protect our countrymen from is inflation – rising prices of goods and services that put a strain on the average Filipino’s daily struggle.

By the end of  2017, over 10 million Filipino families still considered themselves poor. That is 10 million households struggling to provide food and shelter, striving to earn education and desperately searching  to find sufficient livelihood.

Higit sa sampung milyong pamilya ang nababalisa tuwing tumtaas ang presyo ng bilihin tulad ng bigas, sardinas, kuryente at pamasahe.

More than just tightening their budget, these families will have to scramble for higher pay, for odd jobs and ‘sidelines’, and even micro-loans just to cover basic household expenses.

With so many Filipinos living in the fringes, the government needs to play an active role in managing inflation and ensure that our countrymen can survive the rising prices.

As such, this measure seeks to protect underprivileged Filipino families from increasing fuel prices, and its effect on the prices of goods and services, by suspending the excise tax on fuel under TRAIN when the average inflation rate surpasses the annual inflation target range over a three-month period.

Should the average inflation rate stabilize and fall below the annual target for three consecutive months, then the Department of Finance (DOF) will have the prerogative to lift the suspension and re-impose the excise tax on fuel based on its rate at the time of suspension.

While we have little control over global fuel prices, the imposition of excise taxes in our hands.

It is our responsibility to be flexible and responsive when the weight of inflation becomes too heavy for the poor Filipino families to bear.

Progress cannot be built at the expense of hungry Filipinos with little opportunity to improve their day-to-day lives.

Our challenge is to strike a balance between our macroeconomic goals and providing relief and support to Filipinos with the least in our society; and with open minds, open hearts, creativity and innovation, I believe we can find that delicate balance and create a prosperous future for all.






Senate Bill No. 1249: Amending R.A. No. 7277 or Magna Carta for Disabled Persons

This bill seeks to guarantee the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the workforce and provide commensurate compensation, benefits, and employment term s for PWDs as any other qualified employees. Through this legislation, government offices will be mandated to ensure that 2% o f their employees comprise of PWDs whereas private organizations will be required to employ a workforce, at least 1% of which is made up o f PWDs. 

 As we forge onward in building the nation better and stronger, we must take the necessary steps to ensure that we are building an inclusive society where no sector is left behind from the gains of development. 

 This bill will allow persons with disabilities more meaningful and productive participation in society. Furthermore, an increased PWD presence in all workforces aims to heighten public awareness and consideration for the rights o f PWDs.


Senate Bill No. 1211: Philippine Space Act

Rocket ships, astronauts, and scenes from outer space are what often come to mind at the mention of Space Science, but there are much more practicai technologicai appiications to this discipiine that can benefit countries iike the Phiiippines.

In fact, both deveioped and developing countries alike, including our ASEAN neighbors, have respective aeronautics and space agencies to build their own spaceships and join the ranks of space-faring nations.

Little known to many Filipinos is that our country has a number of existing programs related to space scjpnce including PAGASA, which has astronomical science programs; the National Mapping & Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA), which requires gathering satellite information; and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which handles disaster risk management. 

Other applications of space science and technology crucial to our country’s welfare are protection of national territory, natural resources accounting, and capacity building for telecommunications. 

This bill seeks the creation of a Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), which shall be responsible for creating and enacting our nation’s roadmap toward becoming fully participative in global space activity. 

The PhilSA would be responsible for developing space science technology policies, implementirig research and education programs, and establishing industry linkages between private and public sector stakeholders. Lastly, the PhilSA would be our country’s representation for international space agreements and arbitrations. 

A Philippine Space Agency, with its consolidated programs and strategies for space science and technology, will pave the way for future Filipino astronomers, space scientists, and astronauts by laying down a strong foundation in space science education and research.

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


Senate Bill No. 916: Comprehensive Nursing Act

The Philippines is the largest exporter of nurses in the world and Filipino nurses have proven to be one of the most highly skilled assets of our country. Sadly, nurses continue to be undervalued at home and vulnerable to dangerously long working hours and exploitative employment arrangements. Further, despite there being 200,000 underemployed or unemployed nurses, healthcare is still lacking in many rural areas.

If we invested in harnessing the massive potential of our existing healthcare professionals, we can address this healthcare shortage with a strong, competent, and professionally-regulated nursing board.

This bill seeks the creation of a Professional Regulatory Board of Nursing (PRBN) that will be responsible for ensuring that all aspects of the nursing profession are hlld up to standards of excellence. The PRBN will be mandated to promulgate quality standards of nursing education, research, practice, and management.

Through this measure, we will set a standard for academic excellence for all nursing programs in line with the Policies, Standards and Guidelines of the Commission on Higher Education.

The PRBN shall also implement an Advanced Practice Nursing Program which will provide professional development opportunities to existing nurses. Through this program, nurses can expand their skill base, assume more responsibilities on the medical floor, and be better able to serve our countrymen.

Most importantly, this bill aims to protect the welfare of our nurses and uplift the nursing profession by initiating studies on how healthcare professionals should be trained, managed, and developed in an organization, ensuring that working conditions and compensation are compliant with the Code of Ethics for nursing.

Filipino nurses must be empowered with better education, a broader skill base, and more viable opportunities within the country. Ultimately this will uplift the nursing profession while providing better healthcare to all Filipinos. 

In view of the foregoing and to ascertain our commitment to the Filipino people, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought. 


Senate Bill No. 696: Rideshare Support Company Act

The rain is pouring heavily and commuters are muddled together under the shade. Taxi queues are long and winding yet taxis are nowhere in sight.

Those that decide to brave the rain in search for a cab ride are met with picky drivers or unreasonable contracted rates. To make matters worse, stories of robbery perpetrated by malicious taxi drivers, has left passengers with a justifiable fear and distrust of taxis.

In any industry, increased competition would often lead to improved quality, improved service, and lower prices for consumers. For the commuting public, this is a change they have long clamored for.

Recent technological innovations ushered in an era of ride sharing, giving commuters the option of securing convenient, safe, and affordable rides through internet-based applications.

The DOTC has already recognized these innovations “as a driver for progress” and as one of the solutions to “help address the increasing demand for mobility spurred by rapid urbanization.”

In support of these innovations, the DOTC issued a Memorandum Circular (MC) in 2015 to recognize these ride-sharing services under a new category called “Transportation Network Vehicle Service” and allowed them to operate within the agency’s existing regulatory framework.

While the release of the MC is a significant milestone for the promotion of ride-sharing services in the country, there is a need for legislation to create and institutionalize an appropriate regulatory framework for this new type of service and to distinguish it from public transport services.

The proposed bill clarifies the regulations governing Transportation Network Companies, referred to in the bill as “Rideshare Support Companies”, as well as Rideshare Network Drivers and Vehicles.

This measure seeks to promote and encourage new, affordable transportation options and ensure the safety of the riding the public by imposing safety and financial responsibility standards and requirements. 

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


Senate Bill No. 917: Filipino Identification System Act

A list of of valid IDs in the Philippines enumerates 33 different forms of identification that are obtained from various government agencies. Often, a different form of identification will be required of a Filipino citizen depending on the service or government agency involved. The bureaucracy, red tape, and wasted time involved in procuring and releasing each different form of identification is economically inefficient for both the government and its citizens. This also hinders the timely delivery of public services to ordinary Filipinos who bear the opportunity cost of applying and waiting for their IDs.

The proliferation of various forms of government identification obtained separately from different agencies also makes the government identification systems vulnerable to discrepancies and identity fraud.

If we are to continue our pursuit to provide high quality social services to all Filipinos in an effective and timely manner, we must take the necessary steps in unifying the identification system which will allow us to have better control and more efficient interaction between citizens and the government.

This bill seeks to establish a unified Filipino Identification System, to be implemented by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The PSA will manage the Filipino Citizen Registry – a master database of all registered Filipinos. Every Filipino citizen, including those born or residing overseas, will be assigned a unique Common Reference Number at birth and will only be required to renew this ID upon reaching the age of majority and again upon reaching the age of 60. This ID shall be used as the sole required identification in any government transaction and will be provided free of charge as part of the government’s social responsibility.

In pursuing a national identification system, Filipinos will have a more efficient experience with government transactions and the government will benefit from a thorough database of information on Filipino citizens. This will also pave the way to more effective ways of delivering government services such as anti-poverty programs and other social services to improve the quality of life for all.

In view of the foregoing and to ascertain our commitment to the Filipino people, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought.


Senate Bill No. 691: Value-Added Tax on Non-Essential Goods

Whether young or old, ingrained in the Filipino psyche and in our daily hygiene is the use of baby cologne.

In a survey of Filipino consumers, baby colognes ranked second only to shampoo in regular usage, placing it above powder, lotion, and hand sanitizers.1

Further, 98% of the splash cologne consumers are from the economic classes C, D, and Ewith Class D taking up 54% of the market share.7

This Act aims to recognize splash cologne as an essential good, setting it apart from perfumes and other luxury fragrances by ascertaining the concentration of the essential oils or perfume in the product.

The proposed amendment is in line with the legal definition already set by Revenue Regulations No. 8 to 84.3

By aligning and streamlining the definition for baby cologne or “toilet water” and recognizing such as an essential good and taxing them accordingly, we will be able to protect our low-income households from unnecessary surges in prices of their inexpensive, but fragrant cologne, and at the same time, provide appropriate support to the baby cologne industry.

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


Senate Bill No. 648: Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Assistance Act

From the malls of Hong Kong to the souqs of the Middle East and even on massive vessels navigating through borderless seas, you’ll find talented Filipinos diligently working to build a brighter future for their family.

They aren’t only keeping their loved ones above water financially; they are also keeping the Philippine economy afloat with remittances reaching $16.21 billion or P764 billion from January to August 2015.

Even with their contribution, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) remain vulnerable to poor working conditions and abusive employers.

In addition, their employment abroad is no guarantee of financial success.

In a survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas last September 2015, only 38.2% of the 563 household-respondents said that a portion of the money from OFWs are set aside for savings.

There are still too many OFWs that come home without a plan for retirement. Keeping in mind our duty to empower and uplift every Filipino, the OFW Protection Act bolsters our support for the OFW community and the families they leave back home.

This measure ensures our OFWs safety by strictly monitoring and assessing accredited partner agencies and mandating the Public Attorney’s Office to establish a help­ desk in every international port of exit in the Philippines to offer legal service, assistance and advice to departing migrant workers.

Acknowledging the immense power in access to credible information, this measure orders effective and efficient information dissemination on labor, employment, and migration data through various mediums, including social media.

Lastly, to truly achieve prosperity for every Filipino family, this measure integrates programs on livelihood, entrepreneurship, savings, investments and financial literacy to the existing efforts of embassies.

This is our opportunity show our gratitude and appreciation to our overseas Filipinos while fulfilling our duty as public servants.


Senate Bill No. 647: Sustainable Transport Network Act

The development of transportation infrastructure is pivotal to the growth of the nation. Wealth and opportunities ply through roads connecting communities, on board vehicles that bear the riches of our land. But it’s not without its own consequences. The development derived from every road built also spurs the demand for more vehicles. And when road networks reach their carrying capacities, when they become congested, expedient and convenient transportation is stunted and the emission from motorized vehicles amplify health and environmental hazards.

The State must endeavor to reverse this trend by balancing the demand for transportation and for healthy and livable communities for all. Transportation must be made sustainable. The State must endeavor the reduction of emissions, and the maximization of alternate modes of transportation with little to no harmful impact on our health and the environment.

This measure seeks to develop a National Sustainable Mobility Network Plan through the Department of Transportation and Communication that shall guide LGUs in developing a local version of this plan in coordination with the Local Bikeways Office to be established in all LGUs, creating facilities and programs that shall prioritize and endorse the shift to the use of non-motorized vehicles, public transportation, and intermodal transportation involving both.

Further, programs contained herein are designed to set the tone of for immediate and long-term government support for users of non-motorized transporCation, and encourage private sector participation in the goals of this measure.

It is high that we revisit State policy towards transportation, and for us to champion the new paradigm in the movement of people and things: “Those that have less in wheels must have more in roads.”

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


Senate Bill No. 684: Rural Employment Assistance (REAP) Act

It is our directive to ensure that as the Philippine economy grows and thrives, all Filipinos grow and thrive together. One of our mandates is to promote inclusive growth and spread wealth and opportunity across the country.

As such, we need to take a look at our rural communities and provide opportunities to those along the countryside and within our islands, beginning with our least fortunate countrymen.

Considering that almost 80% of Filipinos living in poverty reside in our rural areas1, we are in urgent need of measures to combat poverty and unemployment beyond our cities and urban hubs in the short and long term.

The Rural Employment Assistance Program (REAP) Act is one such policy for the short term, which aims to provide heads of poor families in rural areas fair wages for temporary unskilled work.

This bill not only addresses the issue of unemployment in rural areas, it also involves our less fortunate citizens in nation building as we provide other measures that will help them pursue permanent employment.

The REAP Act mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to hire unemployed Filipinos to maintain, build, and rehabilitate shared, public facilities and livelihood assets within their community.

Let us bring opportunities, wealth, and capacity to the Philippine islands, especially in the countryside. Let every Filipino reap the fruits of our positive progress and development.

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


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