Issues

Improving Agri Incomes should be DA’s Priority — Sen. Bam Aquino

Ensuring that farmers’ incomes improve year on year should be among the priorities of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

This was a point made by Senator Bam Aquino, at Monday’s Senate hearing on the DA’s 2014 budget.

According to the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the average net income of an agricultural household in the Philippines is at least Php61,000 per year or just a little over Php5,000 per month. Some reports say that coconut farmers are among the country’s poorest of the poor, earning an average of only Php23,000 per year.

“We need to make the agricultural sector more attractive, to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the sector,” Sen. Aquino said.  “We need to make sure that as our production levels are rising, our income levels are rising as well.”

The lawmaker likewise proposed that ensuring the improvement of farmers’ annual incomes be a part of the DA’s performance indicators.

He added, “Even if we’re increasing our level of production but our farmers are still earning this level of income, mahihirapan talaga tayo (it’s going to be very hard for us) to achieve our targets.”

“The agricultural sector can make a big difference in our push for inclusive growth, but that means nobody should be left behind as we work to improve our productivity. Hindi puwedeng naiiwan ang mga magsasaka at naghihirap pa rin sila habang umaangat ang ekonomiya ng bansa. Kailangang magkasabay ang pag-akyat ng produksyon sa pag-angat ng mga kita ng mga pamilyang nakasalalay sa agrikultura.”

 

Violence the Enemy of Progress — Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino condemns the attacks that have been brought upon the people of Zamboanga City, saying that “Violence is not the way forward.”

“We condemn violence in all its forms, and we urge all citizens to reject those who intend to perpetuate violence, fear, and panic in the country.”

“Nothing good ever comes of violence,” he says, quoting a line from reformist Martin Luther.

“Lahat tayo talo kung ipagpatuloy natin ang karahasan,” he adds. “Bagsak ang mga negosyo, bagsakang turismo. Taumbayan ang kawawa.”

“The sooner we can find a peaceful resolution to our issues, the sooner we can push for progress and development for all Filipinos. Peace is the bedrock of inclusive growth—this is the mandate that we ought to pursue for the sake of our people.”

Sen. Bam Kinuha ang Pulso ng Negros Oriental, Siquijor

Nakipagpulong si Sen.Bam Aquino sa mga lokal na lider ng Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental at Siquijor upang kunin ang kanilang pulso at pananaw ukol sa isinusulong niyang mga panukalang batas ukol sa malawakang kaunlaran.

Ginawa ni Sen. Aquino ang pulong kasabay ng pasasalamat sa mga taga-Negros Oriental at Siquijor sa suporta kaya siya nanguna sa bilangan sa mga nasabing lugar noong nakaraang halalan.

Ayon kay Sen. Bam, mahalaga na makonsulta ang lahat ng sektor upang mas maging epektibo at makapagbigayng tamang solusyon ang kanyang mga panukalang batas

“Lubos po ang aming pasasalamat para sa inyong suporta at tiwala. Makakaasa po kayong ipaglalaban natin sa Senado ang mga panukalang magdadala ng mas malawak na oportunidad at kaunlaran sa lahat ng sulok ng Pilipinas,” wika ni Sen. Aquino sa pagtitipon ng mga lider ng iba’t ibang komunidad sa Dumaguete City.

Pinangunahan din ni Sen. Bam ang pagdiriwang ng 41st Araw ng Bayan ng Siquijor, kung saan niyaiginiit ang malaking potensiyal ng lalawigan bilang tourism hotspot.

“Ang hamon po sa atin ngayon: Gawing posible ang dating imposible… Kung dati-rati po, hindi natin lubos maisip na ang Pilipinas ay magiging isang ‘breakout nation’ na pinakamabilis ang pag-angat sa buong Southeast Asia, ngayon po ito ay isa nang realidad,” wika ni Sen. Bam.

“Ang hamon ng panahon ay palawakin pa lalo ang kaunlaran upang umabot sa kasuluk-sulukan ng ating bayan,” dagdag pa ng senador.

Sen. Bam Urges SK Elex Postponement “With Reforms”

Following a Senate hearing of the Committee on Local Government, which tackled the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, Senator Bam Aquino called for the urgent postponement of the SK elections but clarified that he was also pushing for reforms in the system.

Members of the committee, chaired by Senator Bongbong Marcos, had reached a consensus regarding the postponement of the SK elections. The matter has yet to be tackled by the Senate as a body during a plenary session. For the postponement to take effect, a law would have to be passed by Congress and signed by the President.

The synchronized Barangay and SK elections is originally set for October 28, 2013. Ballots are set to be printed on Wednesday, September 4, 2013.

“Let’s not subject our youth leaders to the currently flawed system. We owe it to them to fast-track the reforms at the soonest possible time,” Aquino said. “We agree with the postponement, but this should be done in line with SK reforms.”

A former chairperson of the National Youth Commission (NYC) and currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Aquino in July filed Senate Bill No. 1090, otherwise known as the “Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan (LBK) Bill,” It overhauls the youth representation system and aims to “[return] to the true spirit of volunteerism… taking youth participation away from the clutches of partisan politics.”

It replaces the current form of the SK with a body composed of representatives of youth organizations. It also calls for “bottom-up budgeting” and “‘end-to-end’ transparency, accountability, good governance, and community youth participation for all LBK projects.”

“It is anchored on the twin beliefs that youth organizations are a potent force in nation-building, and that the power of young Filipinos is strongest when they work with people who share their values and goals, and in an environment of teamwork and collaboration,” Aquino pointed out.

The senator also wrote in the LBK Bill: “[This represents] a departure from our current system of youth representation and governance. [The proposed measures] also represent new ways of thinking, coupled with the belief that young Filipinos will embrace these reforms for the sake of genuine change and progress.”

Bam Expects Napoles to Tell All

Sen. Bam Aquino is confident that Janet Lim Napoles, who has been implicated in the P10 billion “pork barrel scam”, will tell all following her surrender to President Benigno Aquino III late Wednesday night.

“Now that Napoles has surrendered, she can reveal who else is involved while the DOJ and the Ombudsman are reviewing the evidence in order to determine who should be charged,” Sen. Aquino said in Filipino during a live television interview.

Kapag kumanta na si Napoles (Once Napoles tells all), the investigation of the DOJ and Ombudsman will reveal more evidence,” the senator added. This, Aquino believes, will make it easier for the case to be resolved.

Meanwhile, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, headed by Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, is conducting its own investigation and intends to summon Napoles and the other whistleblowers of the case.

“It’s incumbent upon the officials na hulihin talaga kung sino ang mga sangkot sa krimeng ito (to punish all those who are accountable for these crimes),” Aquino asserted “The government must do everything that it can to prosecute all those responsible for this, to reform a system that has long been corrupted.”

The senator added that all 24 senators have already agreed to abolish the PDAF, following public clamor for the same.

Bam Files “People’s Fund Bill”

In light of his earlier pronouncements regarding the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the need to give taxpayers greater control over public funds, Senator Bam Aquino has filed the People’s Fund Bill.

The People’s Fund Bill creates mechanisms for an individual taxpayer to allocate five percent (5%) of his or her income tax for any of the following: (1) an accredited charity or civil society organization; (2) a priority national or local government project; or (3) a legitimate political party.

Under this bill, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) shall establish the mechanism that would enable individual taxpayers to select beneficiaries upon filing of their annual income tax returns.

Meanwhile, an inter-agency committee led by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shall determine the eligibility of respective organizations, and shall likewise set the conditions, guidelines, and reporting requirements for the receipt and use of the funds by the benefitting organizations.

“The people’s clamor for transparency, accountability, and good governance is growing louder and stronger. Government must heed the call of the people and institutionalize mechanisms that will ensure greater citizen involvement on how public funds are being spent,” Aquino stresses.

“To be clear, hindi ito bagong buwis na ipapataw sa mga tao.  Ang People’s Fund ay manggagaling sa binabayad na ng mamamayan na tax kada taon.  Ang pinag-iba lang ay merong kapangyarihan ang mga taxpayer na piliin kung saan pupunta ang porsyento ng perang ito.  Ginagawa na ito sa ibang mga bansa; panahon na, na gawin ito sa Pilipinas.

“After all,” Aquino continues, “our estimate of the People’s Fund is around ten billion pesos.  Mas maliit pa rin sa papalitan niyang PDAF natwenty-five billion pesos.  Sa kadulu-dulahan, nakatipid pa rin ang gobyerno ng malaking halaga na ngayo’y napupunta sa pork barrel.”

Photo source: Christina Mendez

“People’s Impatience a Good Sign” — Bam

Senator Bam Aquino says that “the people’s impatience” toward corruption and impunity is “a good sign,” citing the “Million People March” that mobilized thousands of Filipino citizens in different parts of the country on Monday.

The “Million People March” was born out of highly publicized “pork barrel scam” that amounted to at least P10 billon and allegedly involved dozens of lawmakers.

“The people’s impatience on this issue is a positive development for reform-minded public servants,” Sen. Aquino points out.

“Ang taumbayan ang nag-uudyok sa mga opisyales na ipagpatuloy at isatupad ang mga repormang kinakailangan natin. Sila ang lakas namin upang gawin ang mga bagay na magdadala ng pagbabago sa mga baluktot na sistema, at magsusupil sa mga tiwali na nagnakaw sa bayan,” he adds.

The young Aquino, a reform advocate with a long history of youth and civic leadership, likewise calls on fellow lawmakers and colleagues in government to “heed the people’s call” and use public funds “to truly empower the people instead of enriching a select few.”

“People’s Fund” instead of PDAF

Toward this end, Sen. Aquino is filing “The People’s Fund,” a bill that aims to give taxpayers more direct control over public funds.

The People’s Fund “seeks to revolutionize public budgeting and funding by giving the taxpayers of the Philippines clear and concrete choices on where their money should go.”

It provides a mechanism for five percent (5%) of an individual’s income tax to be allocated to either of the following: (a) an accredited charity or civil society organization; (b) a national or local priority government project; or (c) a legitimate political party.

Sen. Aquino had said regarding the bill, “People are sick and tired of seeing their taxes go to waste when precious money could instead be channeled toward initiatives that truly benefit millions of Filipinos. It’s time for the PDAF to go and bring the power back to the people through the People’s Fund.”

Photo source: Yahoo Philippines

Bam Lauds PNoy Call to Abolish Pork

 

Senator Bam Aquino lauds President Benigno Aquino III’s statement calling for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), otherwise known as the “pork barrel,” saying this is a necessary first-step to urgent reforms.

“Tayo po ay natutuwa dahil pinakinggan ni PNoy ang hiling ng taumbayan. Panahon na talaga upang buwagin ‘yang PDAF.”

Earlier on Friday, Sen. Aquino called for the abolition of the PDAF and proposed in its stead a “People’s Fund.”

The People’s Fund is meant to “give the Filipino people greater control over where and how public funds are spent.”

“We’ve already taken a lot of steps toward good governance, but now it’s time to overhaul system that’s been corrupted,” the younger Aquino says. “Abolishing the PDAF and instituting reforms is yet another step in transforming governance and keeping the path to tuwid na daan. There’s no better time for it than now.”

Abolish Pork, Set Up People’s Fund — Bam

 Senator Bam Aquino, who earlier suspended the use of his office’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) “until charges are filed” against the perpetrators of the P10B “PDAF scam”, now calls for the abolition of the pork barrel through an innovative measure. He proposes, instead, for a “People’s Fund” to be set up, to give Filipino taxpayers greater control over where a portion of their income taxes should go.

The People’s Fund “seeks to revolutionize public budgeting and funding by giving the taxpayers of the Philippines clear and concrete choices on where their money should go.”

It provides a mechanism for five percent (5%) of an individual’s income tax to be allocated to either of the following: (a) an accredited charity or civil society organization; (b) a national or local priority government project; or (c) a legitimate political party. 

“To be clear, hindi ito bagong buwis na ipapataw sa mga tao.  Ang People’s Fund ay manggagaling sa binabayad na ng mamamayan na tax kada taon.  Ang pinag-iba lang ay merong kapangyarihan ang mga taxpayer na piliin kung saan pupunta ang porsyento ng perang ito.  Ginagawa na ito sa ibang mga bansa; panahon na, na gawin ito sa Pilipinas.”

“After all,” Aquino continues, “our estimate of the People’s Fund is around ten billion pesos.  Mas maliit pa rin sa papalitan niyang PDAF na twenty-five billion pesos.  Sa kadulu-duluhan, nakatipid pa rin ang gobyerno ng malaking halaga na ngayo’y napupunta sa pork barrel.”

Under the bill, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) shall establish the mechanism that would enable individual taxpayers to select beneficiaries upon filing of their annual income tax returns. Meanwhile, an inter-agency committee led by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shall determine the eligibility of organizations and initiatives, and shall likewise set the conditions, guidelines, and reporting requirements for the receipt and use of the funds by the benefitting organizations.

“People are sick and tired of seeing their taxes go to waste when precious money could instead be channeled toward initiatives that truly benefit millions of Filipinos. They are sick of the corruption that has been perpetuated by the current PDAF system. It’s time for the PDAF to go and bring the power back to the people through the People’s Fund,” Aquino adds.

 

Enforce Price Freezes — Sen. Bam

Amid the massive flooding caused by Typhoon Maring, Senator Bam Aquino reminds the Deparment of Trade and Industry (DTI) and local government units (LGUs) to strictly enforce the price freezes that are up in areas under a state of calamity.
“Once an area has been declared to be under a state of calamity, a price freeze should automatically be in effect,” points out Aquino, who chairs the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce.
“Naiintindihan po natin na may kakulangan talaga sa supply ngayon, pero kailangan po nating alalahanin ang kapakanan ng nakararami.”
“Nakikiusap po tayo sa mga tindahan at vendors na huwag naman maging mapanamantala sa oras ng kalamidad,” Aquino adds.
The lawmaker likewise advises the public to be vigilant against unscrupulous traders who take advantage of the calamity and jack up their prices.
Reports may be made through the DTI Consumer Protection Hotline at (02) 751-3330.
Sen. Aquino also calls on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to ensure that repairs to damaged roads and public infrastructure be completed “as soon as possible” in order to normalize the flow of goods.
Photo source: Rappler.com
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