Senate Bill No. 678: Electric, Hybrid, and Other Alternative Fuel Vehicle Promotions Act

The Department of Energy’s goal of putting 100,000 electric tricycles on the road by 2017 and the Electric Vehicles Association of the Philippines’ (EVAP) goal of 1 million electric vehicles by 2020 represent key milestones toward dramatically reducing dependence on oil and ensuring that the Philippines leads in the growing electric vehicle manufacturing industry in the Asian region.

Policy support is needed to encourage investment in manufacturing facilities, enable technology demonstration and deployment and provide incentives to promote adoption and drive consumer demand for electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles. High initial costs, lack of fiscal incentives and vehicle registration and franchising issues are seen as major barriers to this emerging industry’s growth.

Although EO 226, from which the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) derives its legal basis, grants Income Tax Holiday (ITH) for the manufacture and assembly of electric vehicles (EVs) and alternative fuel vehicles (AEVs) including charging stations for electric vehicles, and while Executive Order No. 488, grants duty free importation for components, parts and accessories for the assembly of electric, hybrid, flexible fuel (bio-ethanol and bio-diesel) and compressed natural gas motor vehicles, high capitalization requirements were often cited as the reason for inability of investors in this emerging industry from availing these incentive.

The clamor by the industry for the grant of fiscal incentives which could bring down the acquisition cost of alternative fuel vehicles through exemption from taxes and duties for the purchase and importation of raw materials, spare parts, components and capital equipment, will take some time to be acted on by government owing to the Department of Finance’s ongoing review and rationalization of fiscal incentives.

Since any form of incentives can provide additional boost needed to drive consumer demand for alternative fuel vehicles, non-fiscal incentives such as priority in registration and issuance of plate number, priority in franchise application, exemption from Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction (UVVRP) or Number-Coding Scheme and provision for free parking spaces in new establishments could help influence consumers to choose these type of vehicles.

The enactment of this bill is earnestly requested as this will provide an enabling environment to promote the mainstream use of electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles.


Senate Bill No. 677: Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Free Regulatory Act

You found that you are out of cash without your preferred Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in sight, worrying about what charges you may incur should you use a rival bank’s ATM. Yet, you refuse to keep a large sum of cash on hand for fear of theft or robbery.

The most convenient ATM however is often one of a different bank than the ATM cardholder who is unknowingly charged PhPlS.OO1for each withdrawal at a non-native bank or PhP2.00 for a balance inquiry. Whilst banks incur costs to facilitate interbank transactions, it is a cardholder’s right to be informed of the exact extra charge they will incur before every point of transaction, and to be able to cancel the transaction to avoid incurring the extra charge.

This bill proposes that all financial institutions be required to inform cardholders of extra charges they will incur during each ATM transaction. In addition, this bill proposes to minimize the cost of using ATMs by ensuring that during interbank transactions, only one fee will be charged to the cardholder instead of both banks charging the customer. Lastly, this bill proposes to limit any additional fee to 1% of the total transaction value.

This bill would safeguard ATM cardholders from surprise fees and would allow them to make the decision to opt out of an ATM transaction should they be unwilling to pay the extra fee. With the passing of this bill, both cardholders and financial institutions will benefit from the availability of safe, convenient transactions at an efficient cost.

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


Senate Bill No. 676: Safer Internet Day (SID) Act

The Internet has been integrated into the daily lives of billions around the world, with the Philippines ranked 16thout of 196 nations in 2014 with over 39 million local Internet users1.

Thanks to the World Wide Web, families here and abroad stay connected, news is readily available, our disaster preparedness has improved, and the business landscape is forever changed.

This bill calls for the celebration of National Safer Internet Day to acknowledge both the challenges and opportunities brought forth by this technology that has been integrated in the lives of families, communities and the country.

Through the celebration of National Safer Internet Day, the public would be made aware of the importance of creating a safe, secure and favorable online environment.

The Internet exposes the public to a wealth of information and varying perceptions. The lack of safeguards and controls on the web has allowed cyber abuses never before thought of.

What’s more, the Internet is con.stantly growing and changing. We are only beginning to understand its implications and tap into its capabilities.

National Safer Internet Day should be an annual reminder of our responsibilities as patrons of the Internet.

Beyond this, it is also a venue to discuss the constantly changing landscape of the World Wide Web and discover how best to maximize the ever-expanding online realm.

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


Senate Bill No. 918: World-Class Filmmakers’ Grant Act

The Philippines is home to award-winning filmmakers and artists. In the most recent Cannes Film Festival, a Filipina actress won the award for Best Actress in a film that portrayed living in poverty in the Philippines.

Filmmaking is a valuable part of our artistic landscape and is one way that we can showcase Filipino talent to audiences at home and around the world.

To enable and reward Filipino filmmakers, this bill seeks to provide incentives for the screening of award-winning films, and to award grants for talented Filipino filmmakers and artists who have won.

This bill seeks to provide incentives for the screening of award-winning films, and benefits through grants for the further creation of Filipino films under the creative control of award-winning filmmakers and artists.

The following are the salient features of the measure:

(a) Grant for Film producer of Best Film;
(b) Grant to award-winning cast and crew members; and
(c) Automatic “A” rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board.

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


Senate Bill No. 675: National Amateur Sports Training Center Act

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, immediate approval of this bill is earnestly sought.


Senate Bill No. 645: Agricultural Free Patents Act

In the past 10 years, over 1.2 million Agricultural Free Patents (AFPs) have been awarded to farmers who are natural born Filipino citizens, occupying and cultivating agricultural public lands since 1960, for as long as they have paid real property tax on the land they use. The AFP is the most numerous type of land title in the hands of farmer entrepreneurs in rural areas.

Commonwealth Act No. 141 served as an important measure for supporting our hard working farmers by providing the AFP as a mechanism for land ownership. However, AFP awardees continue to face a lack of access to credit due to non-tradable and non-bankable agricultural land titles brought about by barriers in the use of these agricultural free patents.

The first barrier is the five year prohibition to encumbrance and alienation which bars owners from selling or loaning against it for five years. The second restriction is the five year repurchase provision which allows the original owner, his widow and legal heirs the right of repurchase five years from the date of sale.

Due to these restrictions, these lands become unattractive to buyers. Because of the uncertainty brought about by restrictions, there are no incentives for new owners to make improvements and additional investments. Banks are also reluctant to lend when these lands are used as collateral because it can affect a bank’s liquidity in case of foreclosure if it cannot dispose acquired assets.

Overall, the existence of the restrictions prevents the patentee from transacting the land in the formal market and instead leaves some with no option but to capitalize on the land through the informal economy where they are vulnerable to lower prices and unregulated informal credit suppliers.

This bill seeks to remove these restrictions which would allow patentees to be able to capitalize on their land in a legal and safe marketplace. By removing such restrictions, patentees will thus hold onto tradable and bankable land titles which they can use to acquire capital. 

Passing this in legislation would allow farmer entrepreneurs to make investments, create jobs, increase productivity, and reduce poverty in rural areas, fulfilling the law’s original intention. 

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



Senate Bill No. 694: Pagkaing Pinoy Para Sa Batang Pinoy Act

“You cannot feed the mind on an empty stomach.” This is a truth that millions of Filipinos know and feel all too well. Every day, millions of Filipino children trek to school, underfed and undernourished, yet expected to fully absorb the lessons of the day.

In a study called “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012”, conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a total of 16 million Filipinos were considered undernourished 2010 to 2012, even as the number of chronically undernourished people dropped in all other Southeast Asian countries. Despite our growing economy, there are more underfed people in the Philippines today than there were two decades ago.

Meanwhile, another recent study on “the role of early childhood nourishment and health in connection with human capital accumulation”, published by Dartmouth University in 2012, revealed that the long-term detrimental effects of childhood hunger have a greater impact on school children than the effects of substandard schooling, infrastructure, classrooms, and textbooks.

This is perhaps one of the main reasons why Filipino children continue to lag behind our Asian neighbors in standardized tests. How can we expect them to do well in school when we have not given their brains the proper nourishment and fuel for the tasks that lie ahead of them?

Thus, the proposed “Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy” bill seeks to alleviate childhood malnutrition in the Philippines through a feeding program for infants, public kindergarten and elementary school children. It will promote the health of children who are most in need, by providing regular and free access to nutritious food within a safe and clean school and community environment.

The benefits of the bill do not end there. To enhance the social value of this proposed measure, the feeding program will utilize, when possible and available, locally- sourced and locally-produced food products in order also to support local farmers and farming communities, and thus provide direct support to local agricultural communities. By providing a regular market for the products of local farmers and small entrepreneurs, this feeding program will help address not only child malnutrition but also poverty in the countryside.

This bill will entail partnerships with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd), and local government units.


Senate Bill No. 698: Reducing the Corporate Income Tax Rate

We are working towards a vision of the private sector where bustling local enterprises coexist, cooperate, and collaborate with foreign companies, all contributing to a fair, innovative, and socially conscious Philippine business environment.

Over the past years, macroeconomic factors suggest that we are on the right track with our stellar economic growth, much improved credit ratings, and the highest capital investment of US$8.74 billion from inward FDI in the last six years with over 58,000 associated jobs created in 2015.

However, there is still a lot we can do to attract and retain foreign investors to stimulate even more economic growth and achieve prosperity for more Filipinos. Furthermore, we must seize the opportunity to be a leader in the ASEAN as we harmonize our economies as a region.

It is imperative that we evaluate our corporate tax system. At present, we have the highest corporate income tax rate in the ASEAN at 30%. When the ASEAN Economic Community Declaration was signed, most members began to lower their own corporate income tax rates. Thailand gradually reduced its corporate income tax rate from 30% to 23%, and now it stands at 20%. Vietnam also lowered its corporate income tax rate from 25% to 20%. The average corporate income tax rate in the ASEAN is at 23%.

For the Philippines to attract more investors and to lure in more capital, we must be able to compete with our peers. Though this may result in a lower revenue collection for the government, the multiplier effect of having more investment, expanding our tax base and increasing economic activities will be tremendous.

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


Senate Bill No. 704: Basic Education Teachers Pay Increase Act

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 in these reforms. Even if education has the highest allocation in the national budget, teacher salaries have remained low, forcing teachers to be creative in their monthly subsistence. For an entry level position of Teacher 1, a duly licensed teacher receives a gross monthly salary of Php 19, 077 (Salary Grade 11, Step I)1. For a non­ teaching personnel, the gross monthly salary is Php 9,478 (Salary Grade 1, Step I)2. Even without the deductions, the figures are not attractive.

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, government and private, 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 the brightest graduates to take on the 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.


Senate Bill No. 703: Community Disaster Warehouse Bill

In the past few years, the country has been battered by more than twenty typhoons a year, with an increasing number in the super-typhoon category.

As super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Eastern Visayas, particularly Leyte, last year, Filipinos who were seriously affected needed to contend with an insurmountable shortage of food, clean water, medicine and first aid, and clothing to weather the storm. Supplies weren’t able to reach the survivors immediately due to wrecked ports, airports and roads.

Thus, it is important that every community in the country be equipped and prepared for disasters, and make relief and basic goods as accessible as possible. The first few days after storms or earthquakes hit are crucial in mitigating further tragedies to individuals and families.

Hence, the establishment of community disaster warehouses aims to extend assistance to survivors of calamities, natural or man-made, by ensuring access to basic goods and prime commodities.

It intends for goods sold in these warehouses to be tax-exempt, and ensure that goods in the market would be available to avoid hoarding in affected areas. Furthermore, it seeks to protect citizens from price manipulation during times of crisis.

This intervention is important for the days and weeks right after the calamity to enable people and communities to start rebuilding and normalizing their lives.

Equipping communities with proper mechanism to assist its people during adversity is empowering and inclusive towards a nation that works for all.

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


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