Senate Bill No. 2467: Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund Act

For more than forty years, the coconut farmers have long been fighting for their rights – not just to have access to the Coco Levy – but their right to have the opportunity to develop their industry, and provide better lives for their families and communities as well.

The immense potential of the coconut industry to be a great contributor to the Philippines is largely untapped. With the advancement of farming technology and intercropping, there is a huge possibility to harness the coconut industry to address increasing demands and offer coco fiber, water, and oil, among others to new markets.

It is high time to change its narrative from one of the poorest sector in the country to a great economic driver and source of pride of the Filipino people.

This bill proposes to build the Coconut Levy Trust Fund for the growth of the industry and ultimately, for the benefit of the small coconut farmers and workers all over the country.

The proposal includes the financing of programs.for the increased productivity of coconut farms, capacity building of farmers, research and development of coconut- based enterprises, and implementation of poverty-alleviation programs.

The goal is to rehabilitate and revitalize the industry to stimulate production and attract investments that will make it again a viable, profitable and sustainable endeavor. The proposal seeks to modernize the farmers and stakeholders to make coconut production globally competitive and become a vital source of economic income for the country.

The challenge of inclusive growth is that as the Philippines grows, every Filipino should grow as well. This means that every family, every sector, and even the poor and marginalized should be able to experience this growth.

It is thus urgent and important to provide the coconut farmers the enabling environment and proper opportunity to thrive and flourish, and be able to participate in building this nation.

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





Republic Act No. 10679 : Youth Entrepreneurship Act

“At a time when society’s biggest issue is youth unemployment, businesses and governments must work together to help young people develop an entrepreneurial mindset. That means fostering a culture which supports young people to take risks, set up businesses, create jobs and become masters of their own destiny. Whether it’s through finance, mentoring, incentives or training, we must all play our part so that this generation can achieve its full potential. The time to act is now.”

This is a quote from an Ernst & Young report called “Avoiding a Lost Generation,” produced in June 2013 for the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit. But it could very well reflect the imperatives for the youth of the Philippines. At a time when our youth popUlation forms a large percentage of our total popUlation, and when many of the unemployed belong to the youth sector, both the government and the private sector must work together to empower young Filipinos to be productive members of society. Aside from boosting job generation and gainful employment, our government must create the structures and the mechanisms to enable youth entrepreneurship as a pillar of inclusive growth.

In order to help create this environment, we propose the passage of the “Youth Entrepreneurship Bill”, which seeks to integrate entrepreneurship into our secondary and tertiary education curricula; facilitate grants both for the teaching and the practice of entrepreneurship; and develop a national youth entrepreneurship program to provide support to young entrepreneurs.

This Bill seeks the cooperation of different departments such as the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Aside from developing and  integrating entrepreneurship courses in the curriculum for secondary and post-secondary school students, they shall also be tasked to facilitate the provision of grants to ensure that our schools, teachers, and teaching partners have the capacity to teach these courses. Grants shall also be made available to support students who are pursuing studies and projects related to enterpreneurship.

Further, this Bill tasks the MSME Development Council to develop a National Youth Enterpreneurship Program that will provide young enterpreneurs with strategic support in terms of access to financing, capital, incubation, as well as technology and skills transfer services The MSME Development Council and the Small Business Corporation shall provide preferential allocation for the youth in connection with available credit funds.

This Youth Entrepreneurship Bill is focused on the youth entrepreneur, is inclusive, and is geared toward all types of entrepreneurial talent belonging to underrepresented populations and communities. This Bill aims for sustainability and will be designed for long-term implementation. If we make this a priority measure and pass this Bill, we can envision a future led by young Filipinos who have initiative, who are motivated and driven, and who have the best skills to succeed in creating businesses, proViding jobs, and making inclusive growth a reality.


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Senate Bill No. 2365: Basic Education Teachers Pay Increase Bill of 2014

Accompanying the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, education reforms that were jumpstarted in recent years have been encouraging. These reforms sought to address backlogs in the building of classrooms and facilities, reorient systems for purchasing textbooks and other school supplies to curb corruption, and add teaching and non-teaching personnel to address the growing needs of schools. Truly, it is an exciting time for the Philippine public school system, with growing recognition that the Filipino student must be given the best education and learning experience to compete in the tough job market.

Unfortunately, our public school teachers, on whom we depend on to facilitate this experience, have been largely left out of these reforms. Even if education has the highest allocation in the national budget, teacher salaries have remained the same, forcing teachers to be creative in their monthly subsistence.

With the increasing cost of living, teachers and other school personnel must tighten their belts to get by on their modest salaries. They turn to loan agents, both formal and informal, to make ends meet. They go into debt in order to provide for their families’ needs, even to the extent that the entirety of their salary end up going to loan payments. This dire situation makes it unattractive for our brightest graduates to take on a public school education career. Furthermore, seasoned educators are forced to leave their vocation for practical reasons – to seek greener pastures in other industries or even abroad.

It is pivotal for national development to add support and proper compensation for our teachers, as they shape and form the country’s future. Additional benefits would make a public education career not only noble, but practical and sustainable as well. Moreover, it helps enable our best and the brightest teachers to stay true to their calling and make a significant contribution to nation-building.

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



Filed: August 19, 2014





Senate Bill No. 2366: Nurse in Every Public School Act

Delivering quality education isn’t just a matter of delivering instructional modules inside the classroom. Quality education, that every Filipino child deserves, is holistic in nature. It is concerned with the whole self – physical, mental and spiritual.

With a fifth of the Filipino populace under the poverty line, health-related issues of school children abound, thus hampering their ability to learn and retain lessons and skills. Some students might even be forced to skip school days due to sickness, further impeding their ability to learn.

Thus, this measure proposes that students’ access to basic heaIth care services in schools be assured by requiring every public school to employ at least one registered nurse to look after the health and nutritional needs of its students.

Nurses are as important as other support personnel in the school system.1 They attend to the physical and mental-health needs of students. They can even spearhead programs to promote nutrition and contribute health-related content in the curriculum.

Having a nurse in every school emphasizes the value of health, nutrition and well-being as part of the formation of our Filipino children.

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



Senate Bill No. 2367: National Amateur Sports Training Center

The development of grassroots sports in the country has long been overdue. Despite the Filipinos’ love for sports and athletics, support to achieve sustained excellence in sports from the private and public sector has been lacking.

With limited resources, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has sought to support our national athletes with a proper support system, international exposure, monthly training stipends and adequate training equipment. One major gap is a state-of-the-art facility where budding athletes can be turned into national champions and world icons.

Thus, the bill proposes the establishment of the National Sports Training Center (NSTC) to provide amateur athletes the facility they need for a more apt, focused and scientific training with the hope of nurturing our next generation of world-class athletes.

The NSTC would not only serve as the offiCial venue of training for athletes, but it would also be the center for sports science research and development.

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


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S.B. 2369: Student’s Rights and Welfare Act of 2014

As education plays a vital role in shaping any nation, it provides young citizens the key knowledge, skills and attitudes to be able to participate and contribute meaningfully to the growth of society.

While there is an effort to improve the technical content and curriculum, and the delivery and instruction, there is also a need to reform the non-academic side of education.

This bill proposes to broaden the focus of education institutions towards a more holistic formation of students. By providing a national framework for students’ rights and welfare, this measure seeks to create a conducive atmosphere to maximize their learning and growth.

Service-learning modules provide the chance for students to learn about empathy and compassion; volunteer organizations present the world outside the four walls of the classroom and show the faces of poverty and injustice.

Student-governments and campus publications are spaces where students are able to strengthen values of leadership, integrity, transparency and accountability. Dialogues and consultations with school administrations further enhance the value for respect and critical thinking among future leaders of the country.

Students are no longer just the future of the country. We count on them to be leaders in tneir communities in the here and now.

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



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S.B. 2370: An Act Providing for a Magna Carta for the Poor

The country’s economic performance in recent years has been impressive and unprecedented. Our 7.2% GDP growth in 2013 was the highest in the ASEAN earning the country improved investment grade ratings. Its economic climate is now attractive, viable and profitable for investors to come in.

Despite these accomplishments, our country still faces a myriad of challenges – millions of ~ilipinos do not have jobs and a fifth of the populace is still poor.

The daunting task for the State is how to capitalize on its outstanding growth, the critically acclaimed reform efforts and the renewed global confidence, in order to make growth more inclusive and felt by all of the one hundred million Filipinos.

In the midst of this economic progress, it is essential for the State to craft policies so that every Filipino family is recognized regardless of the socio-economic status of its members, and their needs be taken cared and provided for.

The proposed measure thus seeks to ensure the protection and promotion of five basic rights of every Filipino: the right to food, employment, education, shelter and basic health care. It supports the creation of a just and dynamic environment where prosperity is shared through the provision of adequate social services, enabling a rising standard of living and improved quality of life for everyone.

As the Philippines grows, no Filipino should be left behind.

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


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On the first day of the 16th Congress: BAM AQUINO FILES 7 PRO-POOR BILLS

On the first day of the 16th Congress, Sen. Bam Aquino filed seven bills that aim to empower the poor through jobs and livelihood opportunities.

These are the following:

1.     The Social Value Bill, which redefines “value for money” in government procurement as going beyond products and services with the lowest price, but also those which offer “the greatest collective benefit to the community;”

2.     The Fair Competition Bill, which aims to “protect consumer welfare, advance domestic and international trade and sustained economic development by… regulating monopolies, anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant power, and anti-competitive measures.” It also establishes the Philippine Fair Competition Commission;

3.     The “Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy” Bill, which proposes that local feeding programs for kindergarten- and elementary-level students source their food products from local producers and agricultural communities;

4.     The Go Negosyo Bill, which expands Republic Act 9184, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and supports MSMEs with incentives and makes it easier for them to start up. It also strengthens the MSME Development Council, among others;

5.     The Microenterprise Development Institutions (“MicroDev”) Bill, which supports micro-finance and micro-enterprise support groups in order to help the poor start up their own micro-businesses, in Aquino’s words, “para kumita at umasenso (to earn and to thrive).”

6.     The Youth Entrepreneurship Bill, which proposes the inclusion of entrepreneurship in secondary and post-secondary education curriculum, as well as the creation of a national program to promote youth entrepreneurship; and

7.     An expansion of the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship Bill (PRESENT), filed in the 15th Congress, which supports the creation of social enterprises and offers incentives and benefits to business that genuinely help the poor.

Sen. Aquino is the only social entrepreneur-senator, and has won local and global awards for his pioneering work in helping the poor through social enterprise and for advancing the Philippine social enterprise sector.

According to Aquino, these bills aim to: (1) generate more jobs through the growth of more micro and small businesses; (2) “level the playing field” for smaller businesses by opening access and promoting fair competition; (3) “develop a new breed of entrepreneurs” by supporting youth and social entrepreneurship; (4) promote ease of business and cut red tape in business registration processes and the like; and (5) and support more local entrepreneurs, farmers, fisherfolk, and local producers by pushing for a more “inclusive supply chain” and redefining “value for money.”

 “The bottomline of these bills is that we have to create more support for micro and small businesses because they are the ones that create jobs for our people,” Sen. Aquino points out.

“Let’s work together to create a nation of entrepreneurs and help solve poverty,” the lawmaker adds.

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