Senate Bill No. 662: Fare Discount for Students Act

In many areas of the country, particularly in rural towns, students must walk up to five kilometers each way to get to school. A daily tricycle ride, the only alternative, would be too costly. However, with our climate that brings either torrential rains or, extreme heat, the long and arduous walk sometimes spells the difference between pursuing and halting one’s education.

To give all Filipino students an equal opportunity to an excellent education, this bill proposes to strengthen the mandate for student discounts on transport fares. Under this act, students with valid proof of enrolment to an educational institution must be granted a 20% discount on all land, water and air transportation all throughout the year.

Additionally, this bill seeks to impose stricter penalties for transport providers who do not honor student fares with the help of a hotline through which complaints may be coursed.

Through this mandate, our most underprivileged students stand to benefit from reasonable transportation costs that will be applicable even on weekends and holidays during which students often have extra-curricular activities related to enriching their education.

The inclusion of air and sea transportation will facilitate students’ access to learning not only in the classroom but also around the Philippine islands, across our region, and beyond.

In view thereof the passage of this bill is earnestly requested.


Senate Bill No. 660: Bases Conversion and Development Act

With the country experiencing sustained economic growth, we are flooded with opportunities for development in different industries and across a number of geographical areas in the country.

Subic Bay in Central Luzon is one such region with immense potential for foreign investment and overall economic development. This economic development in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) translates to job opportunities and business opportunities for our countrymen.

With this in mind, the Republic Act No. 7227, otherwise known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act o f 1992, was passed to assign Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) the responsibility to build a prosperous and self- sustaining Freeport in Subic Bay.

SBMA is tasked to promote both economic and social development in Subic Bay, creating a model for economic success and inclusive growth in the region and in the Philippines.

We are now in a position to clarify provisions of the decade-old legislation and apply revisions based on what we have learned in the past years, improving the policy and making SBMA a more effective and impactful governing body.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Reform Bill seeks to update the powers and responsibilities of SBMA in the hope that SBFZ can reach its full potential – attracting more foreign direct investments, supporting growth of local business, providing jobs, livelihood, and a wealth of opportunities for more Filipinos in Central Luzon and in the country as well.

Grow, Subic, grow!

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


Senate Bill No. 661: Indigenous Peoples’ Education Systems (Iped Systems) Act

In the Philippines, the 95 distinct groups of Indigenous Peoples remain among the most vulnerable sectors of society affected by displacement, conflict and poverty. During the recent Pahiyas Festival in Quezon, a young Badjao girl begging for money captured the public’s attention shedding light on the issues that IPs continue to face, challenged by instability, living on the fringes of mainstream society.

As a multicultural nation, we must endeavor to develop as an inclusive society that celebrates and promotes diverse identities that exist across the archipelago.

In accordance with RA 8371, the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, which recognizes the States duty to promote the “strong expression of the ICCs/IPs for cultural integrity by assuring maximum ICC/IP participation in the direction of education , this bill seeks the creation of an Indigenous Peoples Education Council (IPEDC).

Under the Department of Education, the IPEDC will oversee, control, manage and supervise all IP Schools. The IPEDC will aim to give IP communities ownership of their education so that it may be developed in the context of their cultures, customs, traditions, interests and beliefs and may be used as an instrument for their maximum participation in national development and in ensuring their involvement in achieving national unity.

The IP curriculum shall ensure that learning takes place within the ancestral domains of an IP community and uses culturally appropriate learning standards and methods. Moreover, this bill seeks for the creation of an IP School Regional Accreditation Body mandated to monitor and give accreditation for schools to be able to issue certificate of IP curriculum completion.

The IPEDC will ensure that the adequate financial support from both the public and private sector is available to support the pioneering of  IP Schools that will be able to grant scholarships, subsidies and incentives for those who wish to participate in the development of IP Education in any capacity such as curriculum development.

By institutionalizing the educational system of Indigenous People in our nation, we are taking a step toward empowering them, enriching our culture and ensuring that all Filipinos, regardless of ethnicity, can participate meaningfully in Philippine society while maintaining the integrity of their tradition.


Senate Bill No. 659: Local Development Council

It is the basic policy of our State to give primordial importance to the autonomy of the local government. Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the “Local Government Code” aims to provide a more accountable local government structure and institute a system of decentralization.

Section 106 of the Local Government Code mandates each local government to have a Local Development Council (LDC) at the provincial, city, and municipal or barangay level. The LDC is expected to set the direction of economic and social development within its territorial jurisdiction. At the provincial, city and municipal level, the functions of the LDC are to: 1) Formulate long-term, medium-term and annual socio-economic plans and policies; 2) Formulate the medium-term and annual public investment programs; 3) Appraise and prioritize socio-economic development programs and projects, among others. At the barangay level, the LDC is expected to mobilize people’s participation in local development efforts and to monitor and evaluate the implementation of national or local programs and projects.

Our laws recognize the significance of multi-sectoral representation and participation of the LDC. This is made clear in the implementing rules and regulations of the Local Government Code that mandates that the composition of the LDCs shall include representatives from duly accredited people’s organizations (POs), non­ governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector operating therein. Further, NGO representation shall not be less than %of the total membership of the fully organized council. However, despite the express provisions of our laws and implementing rules, many local government units still do not adhere to them. There are also NEDA reports showing that many local special bodies do not meet regularly thus minimizing the participation of NGOs and POs in local governance.

In any democratic nation, every individual must share in the sovereign power and must be able to participate equally in the government of the local body. Each sector of a nation must give their voice in the decisions that will affect them all. The local NGOs and POs must be given a place in the local councils for rightful representation. The local government’s goal should support the creation of a better life for its people, echoing the voice of the people and help to build resilient and prosperous communities, now and over the long term.

For this purpose, this bill seeks to bolster the noble goals of RA 7160 in ensuring that the NGOs and POs are made active partners in the pursuit of socio-economic welfare in the local autonomy. The bill mandates LDCs to convene at least four times in a year: March, June, September, and December. The leagues of LGUs are further mandated to monitor such meetings through the Oversight Committee on Local Government. Finally, the bill seeks to provide punitive actions to local executives who fail to execute such laws.

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


Senate Bill No. 658: Working Poor Protection Act

The Philippine Social Security Act of 1954 gave rise to the Social Security System (SSS) in the country intended to provide protection against likelihoods and eventualities such as disability and injury, sickness, maternity, old age, and death.

One’s contributions to SSS translate to investments into one’s future and the future of their family. Contributions give citizens access to benefits such as disability aid, retirement relief, and life insurance. SSSalso offers loans at reasonable rates that can be used for various purposes like putting
a child through school or putting up a small business. I

These benefits can make the world of a difference to Filipinos, particularly those burdened by financial instability. However, contributions of individuals earning below P 100,000 annually are intermittent.

Our social protection programs cover the poorest of the poor but only 6.5% of the 12 million self-employed Filipinos are paying their SSS contributions. This is a lost opportunity for countrymen considered our working poor as well as our marginal income earners -farmers, fishermen, market and street vendors, and micro-entrepreneurs across the country.

This bill is the financial support and incentive system our MIEs need to encourage them to invest in their future and their security.

Let us ensure that all working Filipinos are being provided for and that our MIEs are not left behind as we continue to push for inclusive growth in the country.

Let us make the vital adjustments that help Filipinos help themselves. In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought.


Senate Bill No. 674: Expanded Senior Citizens Act

Our Filipino senior citizens have contributed immensely to the growth and progress of the country. As they reach the twilight of their lives, it is our responsibility as a society to ensure their rights and privileges, and that proper accommodation is given to them.

To further embolden RA 7432, the Senior Citizens Act of 2015 seeks to institutionalize the National Commission foe Senior Citizens (NCSC), which shall have the best interests of our country’s seniors at heart.

As a national agency, the NCSC will formulate and implement policies, plans, and programs that promote senior rights and privileges or address issues plaguing the sector.

With sectors such as the youth, women, and persons with disabilities having a specialized body catering to their constituents, it is about time that our Filipino seniors are awarded their own commission as well to ensure that no Filipino gets left behind.

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


Senate Bill No. 673: Menu Nutritional Information Act

“The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them” – Section 15, Article 2,1987 Philippine Constitution.

While the number of foodies is growing with the number of must-try eating establishments around the country, we are confronted with the challenge of eating healthy and balanced diets. And though the love of food is an integral part of the Filipino identity, we must do our part in battling the health concerns that plague our society.

In the Philippines, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality, accounting for 30.2% of deaths among Filipinos in 2003 according to a report from the Department of Health (DOH).

In addition, the risk for noncommunicable diseases increases, with increases in body mass index. The World Health Organization (WHO) expects that the percentage of Filipino obese men over thirty will increase from 23% of the population in 2005 to 24% in 2015, while the rate for women will increase from 34% in 2005 to 44% in 2015.

The WHO also noted that 80% of premature heart disease, stroke, and type two diabetes and 40% of cancers can be prevented through a healthy diet.

While we are well aware of the nutritional content of the food we consume from supermarkets, Filipinos are left in the dark when eating out, lacking easily accessible information to make informed choices when eating in restaurants. There are abundant data to show that people who eat at fast food establishments consume more calories and miss out on the more nutrient rich food groups. Consumers are unaware of the calorie and nutritional content of their choices and this leads to an unhealthy eating pattern.

Nutrient content information provided at the time of food selection in food service establishments would enable consumers to make more informed, healthier choices and can be expected to reduce obesity and the many health problems which obesity causes.

Provision of calorie and nutrient information on menu and menu boards is another way to accomplish the mandate of the Constitution. The consuming public is unable to make an informed choice as to which menu item is more nutritious as opposed to others in a food service establishment.

This bill seeks to address the problems of obesity, improper nutrition and the diseases they cause by providing consumers with relevant information so they may make better food choices.

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


Senate Bill No. 672: Peace Education Act

Conflict is one of the biggest hindrances to achieving national unity and economic development and, sadly, the Philippines is not exempt from problems of ethnic conflict, amongst a host of other types of conflict.

Media coverage, with catchy headlines and limited word counts, can often further narrow public understanding of complex issues that surround conflict leading to a greater gap between different groups in Philippine society.

In a global environment where extremism threatens our democratic ideals, it is imperative for our nation to introduce Peace as an integral part of our school curriculum. By doing so, we can ensure that our youth and future generations are in a better position to unite, founded on a solid understanding of our multicultural nation.

This bill seeks to introduce Peace Education in the school curriculum at all levels, in both public and private educational institutions. Under the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), a Peace Education Advisory Council would be formed whose mandate would be to formulate the syllabus, learning materials and facilitate teacher-training and evaluation of the Peace Education program.

By introducing topics such as religious pluralism, gender and sexuality, cultural diversity, and conflict management into classroom discussions, we may begin to develop our youth’s openness to meaningful expressions of diversity. In creating this conversation within a safe and moderated school environment, we can bridge together the many different ideas that, left unexplored, threaten to pull our nation apart.

Conflict has great economic and social costs, and most importantly, leads to many human casualties. To achieve prosperity as a nation, we must take the necessary steps in uniting our diverse population through formal education on Peace.

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


Senate Bill No. 671: Free Cultural Experience for Students Act

The recent announcement by National Museum of the Philippines that admission will now be permanently free is a welcome change to all Filipinos. In particular, this benefits teachers and parents of public school students who are eager to visit but were discouraged due to the admission fee that many families cannot afford.

The numerous public museums, national historical shrines and landmarks in the Philippines serve as a rich place to learn about our history, our cultural heritage and our artistic talent as a nation. However, these places are often unknown to or inaccessible to public school students who cannot afford the costs of field trips.

In order to enrich the learning of all Filipinos, this bill seeks to remove admission fees to all public museums, national historical shrines and landmarks, for students enrolled in public schools. In doing so, experiential learning through field trips and cultural immersions will become more accessible to students and teachers who wish to use these venues to share valuable knowledge about our history.

Through this bill, the study of culture, art and history will no longer be a privileged pursuit, but something that is accessible to all students who will benefit from a greater appreciation of our country’s heritage.

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


Senate Bill No. 670: Sale of Electricity by Generation and Distribution of Companies and Electric Cooperatives

The cost of electricity rose once again in February this year, owing to higher power supply agreements as Filipinos braced themselves for the summer months when electric bills normally skyrocket. The Philippines has one of the most expensive electricity costs in Southeast Asia, having the third highest tariffs for residential electricity whereas our neighbors’ electrical distribution is heavily subsidized by their governments.

High power rates are debilitating to the average household or business that already struggle to cover the costs of many other necessities such as water, gas, and of increasing necessity nowadays, internet.

This bill seeks to amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended, by removing Value Added Tax from the sale of electricity, at all stages: generation, transmission, and distribution, by all electric companies and cooperatives.

A tax relief on electricity will result in a significant gain in disposable income for Filipino families, as well as for businesses who benefit from lower operating costs and more profit left for expansion and investment. VAT-exempt electricity will surely light up many more Filipino’s lives.

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


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