Senate Bill No. 686: Youth Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act

Our beloved country is one of the most vulnerable nations to the threat of climate change.

In the past years, the Philippines has experienced a consistent battery of alarming natural calamities. In 2013, Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan, the deadliest typhoon in our history, affected over 14 million people and took over 6,000 lives.

While the Philippines has been on the receiving end of countless disasters, our resilience and spirit of volunteerism has become a source of comfort and inspiration.

In trying times, the youth sector serves as a beacon of hope and catalyst of action. Schools become depositories of donations and efficient centers for packing and deployment of relief goods, never running out of willing volunteers.

Others are volunteer firefighters, first responders and peacekeepers in their respective localities, like the Rescue Assistance Peacekeeping Intelligence Detail‘(RAPID) of Cebu City and the Ormoc City-based Hayag Youth Organization.

RAPID has vast experience in relief and rescue operation. They were one of the first responders in Tacloban City after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda. They also helped rescue passengers of a passenger vessel that collided with a cargo ship in Cebu in August 2013.

Hayag, for its part, has been teaching swimming, disaster preparedness, first aid and open water safety training to youth. They have successfully taught their members when no one among them had a major accident when Typhoon Yolanda hit Ormoc City.

With impending disasters in the country’s future, it is important to move from post-disaster relief to proactive disaster preparedness. And as the nation moves in this direction, it is important to include young Filipinos in this evolving discussion.

The Responsive, Empowered and Service-Centric Youth (RESCYouth) Act proposes to include the Filipino youth in the nation’s disaster risk reduction policy body to recognize their role in DRRM and empower them with information and skills to help communities in times of crisis.

The measure seeks to have the National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman be included in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to voice out the concerns and proposals of the Filipino youth on disaster prevention, promotion, education, rescue, and rehabilitation, among others.

There is nothing to lose, but so much to gain from engaging the youth in our quest to build a Philippines that is capable of efficiently responding to natural calamities and able to reduce its negative impact on society.

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



Senate Bill No. 692: Corporation Code

The Philippines is enjoying the best economic growth it has seen in years and has deemed to be a rising star in the region. But the challenge remains to enhance the local markets and business environment in order for investments to continuously come in. Updating pertinent laws is needed to keep up with the fast-changing business landscape and sustain this unprecedented progress.

This measure seeks to introduce key amendments to Batas Pambansa Blg. 68 or the Corporation Code, which was passed in 1980 or more than three decades ago.

Two key provisions aim to address the needs of entrepreneurs in the country.

Firstly, a sole proprietor presently needs to have incorporators of five to fifteen individuals to be able to register with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). The policy has created cases for dummy incorporators.

In addition, sole proprietorship exposes all the properties of the entrepreneur for the business’ liabilities. Such exposure risks all of the assets of the proprietor, even his family’s properties.

To address these, this measure recommends the recognition of the one-person corporation to encourage entrepreneurs to declare truthful and transparent information about their businesses, limit liabilities and spare family assets, and further grow their businesses.

Secondly, the law currently provides for a limited corporate term of 50 years maximum. Many big firms forget to renew after 50 years and they end up dissolving the company, liquidating their assets and transferring their properties. This unfortunate event leads to loss of income and livelihood for families, and the loss of legacy and dreams for entrepreneurs and employees.

The bill seeks to allow corporations to have perpetual corporation existence but with renewal requirements every 25 years. Failure to comply with the requirements will not end corporate existence but penalties will be imposed. It allows a corporation to develop long-term plans and to look into more sustainable and far-reaching strategies for more economic growth.


Other related provisions have been proposed to make the policy relevant and attuned to present times, adopt global best practices, attract more investments and start-ups in the country and specifically address the needs of entrepreneurs.

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


Senate Bill No. 687: Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Act

Despite country’s success in achieving moderate economic growth, the results of the 2015 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey still show that 50% of Filipinos consider themselves as poor. This result is a call for the national government to strengthen its effort in addressing problems of unemployment and alleviating poverty.  A study conducted by Asian Development Bank in 2006 suggests a strong link between poverty levels and educational attainment. Almost 50% of household heads who did not complete any formal schooling are poor while only 2% of college graduates have income below the poverty line. Despite Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reporting an increase in subsistence incidence among Filipino Families from 10% in 2012 to 9.2% in the first semester of 2015, it is still reported that incomes of poor families were short by 29% of the poverty threshold. Based on this, on the average, an additional monthly income of PHP 2649 is needed by a poor family with five members in order to move out of poverty in the first semester of 2015.

These data show that despite the decrease in in poverty levels, improvement to current poverty alleviation efforts is much needed.  It is in this line of reasoning that we push for the institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18. Other countries have been implementing similar programs like Argentina’s Universal Allowance for Children, Brazil’s Family Grant, and Chile’s Solidarity System which all have reduced their poverty levels significantly. All these have been made into laws. The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Act of 2016, with its enhancements on the existing program, hopes to ensure that all youth beneficiaries will have the assistance they need to finish high school and college and thus have a greater chance of landing a job. These include the expansion of age coverage from 0-14 to 0-18 years old and the increase in the amount received by students 12-18 years of age. This Act also strengthens implementation by penalizing actions which jeopardize the integrity of the program.

With the current implementation of the program in the country, high compliance rates were recorded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the months of March and April 2015, with 99.91% for the deworming of children aged 6-14; 98.99% for school attendance of children aged 6-14; 98.33% for school attendance of children in daycare aged 3-5; 97.05% for school attendance of children aged 15-18; 95.95% for health visits of pregnant women and children aged 0-5; and 94.84% for attendance in family development sessions. The program, designed to address short term needs for the long term goal of breaking the intergenerational poverty cycle, is only beginning to receive its return on investment, with year 2015’s 300,000 thousand high school graduates from household beneficiaries.  Given what the program has already accomplished and in consideration of what it could still achieve given the improvements to the program, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure sustainability regardless of transitions the Philippines may go through as it shifts from administration to administration.

In view of the foregoing, the immediate passage of this measure is earnestly sought.


Senate Bill No. 689: Rationalizing the Taxes Imposed on Non-Life Insurance Policies

Water-logged vehicles, homes swallowed by the earth, valuables blown over and washed away – these are scenes from the various calamities experienced by Filipinos over the past years.

From Ondoy in Metro Manila to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and super­ typhoon Yolanda in Leyte, what Filipino families had spent decades working for was taken away and families without the protection of insurance had no recourse but to begin again from scratch.

Non-life insurance policies in the Philippines bear a value-added tax (VAT) of 12% amongst an array of other taxes, such as documentary stamps, fire service and local government taxes bringing the total tax burden to 27.2% per policy. In comparison, life insurance policies carry only 2% VAT after enjoying a 5% reduction thanks to RA 10001.

The prohibitively high taxation rates on non-life insurance have caused Filipino consumers and businesses alike to shy away from this key necessity, placing their hard- earned investments at risk in our disaster-prone nation.

In order to empower our citizens and local businesses to protect hard earned assets and encourage more Filipinos to think long-term, we must pursue the reduction of taxes for non-life insurance policies in the country.

What’s more, as the Philippines enters the ASEAN Integrated Economic Zone, we have a responsibility to strengthen local industries, including our insurance sector who will be contending with foreign competitors who offer non-life insurance policies at 0.4-7% VAT.

This measure will not only safeguard the valued possessions of our hardworking countrymen; it won’t Just shield businesses from the risk of failure after catastrophes beyond their control, but will also create a thriving non-life insurance sector in the Philippines as it competes on a larger stage in the ASEAN.

In view of the foregoing, the passage of this measure is earnestly sought. 


Senate Bill No. 690: Magna Carta of the Poor

The country’s economic performance in recent years has been impressive and unprecedented. Its 7.2% GDP growth in 2013 was the highest in Asia earning the country improved investment grades. Its economic climate is now attractive, viable and profitable for investors to come in – doing business has become more fun in the Philippines.

Despite the accomplishments of the country, it still does face a myriad of challenges – around three million Filipinos do not have jobs and a fifth of the populace is 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 to take care and provide for their needs.

The proposed measure thus seeks to ensure the protection and promotion of five basic rights of every Filipino: the right to food, employment, quality education, shelter and basic health care. It supports the creation of a just and dynamic environment where prosperity is shared through provision of adequate social services and 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, immediate approval of this bill is earnestly sought. 


Senate Bill No. 688: Big Data Act

The world we live in is in constant change. With these changes, more data are being collected, stored, accessed, analyzed, re-analyzed and disseminated.

Big Data has risen as an alternative source of information. It refers to datasets whose volume is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze within a tolerable elapsed period of time.

Today, Big Data from information-sensing smart phones, social media and the Internet, remote sensing and climate sensors is more available and accessible.

Thus, establishment of a technology center that facilitates Big Data is proposed in order for policy and services to be more relevant to the changing needs of the people.

With the help of the Philippine Big Data Center, disaster response teams will be armed by important information and other data needed during emergency situations and calamities.

The Bill proposes an infrastructure where Big Data is utilized for research and development, and invention and innovation.

The Center will develop a range of standards to use software and tools for analytics on massive amounts of data being generated from the use of the Internet and other technology.

The Center will also be responsible for disseminating and communicating the knowledge gained from its research activities to its stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. The analysis from Big Data will help policy makers to be more responsive to the needs of the public.

Furthermore, the Center will respect the right to privacy of the Filipinos, ensuring data anonymity, establish opt-in permissions and uphold transparency in its data analytics processes. 

The passage of this bill will pioneer and institutionalize a technological breakthrough that will support the public and private sectors. It boosts the efforts of the State for more advanced, sustained and inclusive developmental progress. 

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


Senate Bill No. 652: Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Program Act

There is tremendous potential in the bamboo industry. Globally, the value of exports of bamboo and bamboo products is estimated to be US$12 billion. Locally the reported value of exports of bamboo and bamboo products in 2014 was US$ 10 million. Bamboo production and processing has provided direct and indirect employment to an estimated 190,000 people and these numbers can continue to climb, with the right support systems in place for the industry.

However, bamboo is officially classified as a minor forest product by virtue of PD No. 705 otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code. As a consequence of this classification, the main considerations and attention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been focused on timber and timber products, which is understandable because of timber’s sizable economic contributions.

But with the destruction of our forests and the diminution of the supply of wood and wood products for construction, there are attempts to fill the void with suitable substitutes such as bamboo.

Bamboo has always been an important construction material in the rural areas. Because of its versatility it has found applications in many uses, from house construction, farm implements, kitchen utensils, furniture and handicrafts. Bamboo is also relatively cheap given its ubiquity and ready availability in the rural areas. However, its low price is also a result of low natural durability against agencies of deterioration and its poor reputation as a material for construction.

Fortunately, the research sector has been working on technologies to lengthen the service life of bamboo and has developed new bamboo products such as engineered bamboo, which can take the place of wood as panel products and for structural purposes. Today, furniture and handicraft manufacturers incorporate bamboo in the design of their products with amazing results, even attracting foreign buyers. Bamboo has also become a medium in carving and architects have designed structures entirely made of bamboo.

In the environmental front, bamboo has been found to excellently reduce erosion. It is also capable of absorbing heavy metals in mined-out areas. Studies have also shown that it can sequester carbon dioxide of about 45% of its dry weight.

An important advantage of bamboo to tree plantations is that there is a need to replant when trees in plantations are harvested. In contrast only mature culms are harvested from a clump of bamboo and if managed well a clump of bamboo can continuously provide raw materials indefinitely.

With these developments and benefits, bamboo has been gaining popularity both locally and in foreign countries. Unfortunately there is no national program on bamboo industry development.

It is recognized in the industry that there is a general insufficiency of raw materials for which reason many enterprises on bamboo processing have closed down because of lack of raw materials yet there is little initiative in bamboo plantation development. Support to research and development is sorely insufficient and product marketing is left generally to the private sector.

In order for the country to be more competitive in foreign markets, capture a sizeable portion of the global market, provide livelihood to rural communities, and take advantage of the environmental contributions of bamboo to rehabilitate degraded watersheds, sequester carbon dioxide, and assist in the mitigation of climate change, it is necessary to have an organized and well managed bamboo industry development program.

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


Senate Bill No. 695: Ammendments to the Public Service Act

Public utilities or public services are business activities generally characterized as natural monopolies with large sunk costs. They are allowed to operate as regulated monopolies since they provide services that are indispensable or necessary to everyday life.

The Public Service Act (Commonweaith Act No. 146) remains the principal law that enumerates business activities classified as public utilities or public services. It was enacted in 1936 based on even older statutes in the United States and in the Philippines. Since then, vast advances have taken place in technology and modes of delivery of services. Capital and other requirements and ways of doing business, among others, have drastically changed as well. These require a review of the Public Service Act and the introduction of greater market competition with a view to attaining more effective and efficient services to the public, reducing socio-economic inequities and alleviating poverty.

This bill is introduced in order to update the coverage of public utilities or public services in the Public Service Act, reserving it to business activities exhibiting the simultaneous characteristics of natural monopoly and vital public necessity, and to ensure that every Filipino has access to the best quality, value-for-money essential services that effective competition can provide.

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


Senate Bill No. 657: Adolescents and Youth Mental Health Program Act

In 2011, the World Health Organization found that 16% of Filipino students aged 13 to 15 had contemplated suicide, whilst 13% had actually attempted suicide. Suicide, although not often publicly discussed, is closely linked to mental health disorders.

Unfortunately, mental illness is still a relatively misconstrued concept in our nation with limited public discussion on the proper management and care for those affected.

In a fast urbanizing nation, youth find themselves facing increasing amounts of pressure from the demands of school, employment, and various other social pressures. On the other hand, families now have much more diverse set-ups and and limited time, leaving the youth to be more independent in resolving their own conflicts. Unfortunately, many young people are left with few persons from whom they can seek advice when going through symptoms that are linked to mental illness. Efforts must be made to empower the youth in that mental illness is something that can be addressed without prejudice and with the full support of the community and State.

This bill proposes the creation of a Mental Health Program for the youth aged 15 to 30 years old, to be implemented by the Department of Health, in conjunction with various other government agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The Mental Health Program for youth will see a widespread information drive on mental health awareness, to be implemented by all local government units. This bill also seeks for the establishment of a Mental Health Desk at all city and municipal health offices where a mental health practitioner will be able to cater to consultations and queries of adolescents and the youth. 

In addition, this bill seeks for every public or private educational institution to employ at least one qualified guidance counselor who is authorized as a mental health practitioner to provide support and advice to students. 

We must ensure that adolescents and the youth’s rights are protected and their needs addressed. By establishing the Mental Health program, we can better equip them to face the challenges of present-day realities. In doing so, we can fully harness the potential of the bright Filipino youth who are our invaluable partners in building the nation. 

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


Senate Bill No. 646: Crowdsourcing Act

The Philippines is one of the most active nations on Facebook with 30 million Filipinos registered to the popular social media website. On the Internet, Filipinos are able to share personal stories, talents, products, appeals for donations, and grievances. And in the May 2016 elections, ideas on politics, governance and legislation flooded our social media feeds.

The Internet has proven time and again, through elections, natural disasters, public scandals, and the like, that it has the power to unite public efforts. The Internet has a power that we harness during times of need and that we ought to maximize for the betterment of our country.

This bill seeks the creation of an online platform for ordinary citizens to create petitions for both Houses of Congress to review, amend, repeal or create a law. This platform shall be launched and maintained by the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office and it shall serve as a direct communication channel between the legislative branch of government and the general public. Petitions launched on the website should need to have been electronically signed by at least 300,000 before the proposed measure will be forwarder to the relevant committees in both Congress and the Senate.

In our nation, we strive to achieve full participation in the democratic process. With the advent of widespread Internet access, it has never been easier to improve and democratize our legislative process than it is now, utilizing a fast, efficient, and transparent technology to hear the voice of ordinary citizens.

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


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