An international organization is calling for the urgent passage of Sen. Bam Aquino’s measure that seeks to provide monetary compensation to Marawi City residents who lost their homes and other private properties to the siege perpetrated by the ISIS-inspired Maute group last year.
According to Francisco Lara, senior adviser of International Alert Philippines, the enactment of the Sen. Bam’s Senate Bill No. 1816 or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2018 will help hasten the rebuilding of the war-torn city and help mend the wounds created by the conflict.
“It’s very important. It’s very important in terms of healing wounds created by the war in Marawi,” said Lara.
Lara stressed that it is unfair for the people of Marawi that a compensation bill is taking this long to pass, considering the urgency of the situation.
“It’s unfair that a compensation bill is taking this long to pass. This is the only thing the victims have to look forward to,” said Lara.
Sen. Bam filed Senate Bill No. 1816 on May 22, 2018, pointing out that the monetary compensation will give Marawi residents with means to immediately recover from the damage and destruction to their homes and private property caused by the Marawi siege.
“Sa ngayon, wala pang paraan upang mabigyan sila ng tulong mula sa gobyerno na katumbas ng kanilang personal na ari-arian na nawala at nasira sa bakbakan,” said Sen. Bam.
“Ang tulong na ito’y isang hakbang upang masiguro ang kapayapaan at ang daan tungo sa kasaganaan sa Marawi at sa buong bayan,” he added.
Based on earlier computation by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the rehabilitation of Marawi City will come with a tag price of around P51.7 billion.
As member of the member of the Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation, Sen. Bam filed Senate Resolution No. 661 last February 26, 2018, asking the committee to look into the government’s moral and ethical obligation to provide financial assistance and support to victims of the siege. However, Sen. Bam’s resolution was not acted upon.
On May 23, 2017, the ISIS-inspired Maute Group attacked Marawi City, destroying public infrastructure, private properties and holding hundreds of civilian hostage.
The attack displaced thousands of Marawi residents from their homes and forced them to seek shelter in evacuation centers or live with their relatives in nearby cities. The attack also destroyed business establishments that served as source of income, livelihood and employment for many Marawi residents.
After government forces successfully regained control of the city and killed known international terrorist Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the administration declared Marawi City liberated from ISIS-inspired forces on Oct. 17, 2017.
Senator Bam Aquino expressed serious concerns over the death of Father Richmond Nilo and other priests, saying it underscores the growing culture of impunity and escalating violence in our country.
“Nangyari ito sa isang sagradong lugar, sa harap ng maraming tao. Kung hindi pa tayo natatakot at nababahala, hindi ko na po alam,” said Sen. Bam, as he visited the priest’s wake in Nueva Ecija.
“Wala nang ligtas kahit sino, kahit saan. Pati loob ng ating mga simbahan pinasok na ng karahasan,” Sen. Bam added.
As a response, Sen. Bam will file a resolution to investigate the peace and order situation in the country in light of the flagrant killings of religious leaders.
The senator said the deaths of the three Catholic priests in public and out in the open has roused fear and deep anguish to Filipinos who find comfort in their faith and religious community.
He added that the incidents merit a probe so Congress can support the quest for justice and strengthen efforts to ensure the safety and security of our country’s religious leaders.
Last June 10, 2018, Father Nilo, was shot by two unknown assailants as he was walking towards the altar to preside over Sunday mass at a small chapel of Nuestra Senora dela Nieve, in Barangay Mayamot in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.
There have been 4 known attacks on Catholic priests in the past 6 months, resulting in 3 deaths.
“Ito ba ang peace and order na pinangako ng administrasyon? Ang mga mahihirap at mga tagapagtanggol ng mga mahihirap ang nabibiktima,” Sen. Bam stressed.
Dear colleagues, campaigning for relatives is a common experience for most, if not all of us here today.
In my case, during the 1987 and the 1992 senatorial elections, I campaigned for my uncle, former senator Butz Aquino.
Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, whom I call Ate Berna, was campaigning for her father, former senator Bert Romulo.
I was 9 at the time, and she was maybe 15 or 16. And from then, until today, I consider her a big sister.
In that group of youth volunteers, campaigning for our respective relatives, she was, in many ways, everyone’s Ate.
Through the years, Berna Romulo-Puyat has had different professions. And she has excelled in all of them – despite being underestimated because of her looks and because she is a woman.
While Ate Berna is definitely petit in stature, she is definitely not petit in competence.
In fact, she earned a reputation as a terror prof in UP, much like her mentor Mareng Winnie Monsod.
She would shock her students by sitting in the back of the classroom, blending in as one of the students, while they spoke candidly about her and her class, only to reveal belatedly, that she was the professor.
As Undersecretary for Special Concerns at the Department of Agriculture, she didn’t just visit and speak to farmers, she worked with them, planting rice on the rice terraces and harvesting coffee beans in Bukidnon.
Capable, passionate and inspired, she linked farmers to markets and institutional buyers here and abroad. She also used Madrid Fusion as a venue to showcase the produce of Filipino farmers made delicious by out local cooks… to the delight of foreign chefs and gourmands.
Now, Sec. Berna is challenged to whip the Department of Tourism into shape, after the alarming reports of corruption and patronage in the agency.
She’s tasked with the sustainable development of own our tourism industry, and with getting local and foreign tourists to be just as enthusiastic as she is about the wonders of the Philippines.
We are confident she is up to the task and will get the job done!
For those who doubt her abilities, allow me to use her brother Erwin’s words:
You underestimate Berna at your own peril.
With that, Mr. Majority Leader, Mr. President, let me state my full support for the confirmation of the ad interim appointment of Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat as the Secretary of our Department of Tourism.
Benham Rise is clearly Philippine territory and its features are not for China to name.
It is only right that the government counter any further moves to name features of our territory and propose remedies for the two formally named by China through the International Hydrographic Organization.
I hope that the hearing I will chair on February 26 will bring clarity to the issue and help determine next steps.
It is imperative that we protect our territory from any foreign interest.
Dapat nang magkaroon ng matibay at malinaw na plano ang pamahalaan sa Philippine Rise, lalo ngayong unti-unti nang kumikilos ang China para ito’y angkinin.
Huwag nating isuko na parang West Philippine Sea ang napakahalagang yamang ito.
Sen. Bam Aquino happily announced that the revolutionary reform for free college education has been funded by Congress, as he voted in support of the ratification of the 2018 national budget.
“Ngayon na may pondo na ng 40 bilyong piso para sa libreng kolehiyo, maaasahan ng mga estudyante na magiging libre na ang tuition at miscellaneous fees sa mga pampublikong unibersidad at kolehiyo,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, the principal sponsor and co-author of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act in the Senate.
“Natutuwa tayo na mas maraming Pilipino na ang makaka-graduate sa kolehiyo salamat sa tulong ng gobyerno,” added Sen. Bam.
According to Sen. Bam, the bicameral conference committee allotted P40 billion in the 2018 budget for free college education in state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges and TESDA-run vocational schools.
“We thank the members of the bicameral conference committee for prioritizing education. Our sincerest gratitude to our Finance Committee chairperson, Sen. Loren Legarda for defending and working to keep the budget for free education,” said Sen. Bam.
However, Sen. Bam said there’s still work to be done once the law is rolled out. “We must ensure that the law is implemented properly for the benefit of our students,” said Sen. Bam.
Thanks to the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, tuition fees will be free in SUCs, LUCs and TESDA-run technical vocational schools.
Students will also be spared from paying miscellaneous and all other mandatory fees while scholarship grants will be made available to students of both public and private college and universities.
Under RA 10931, students can also avail of the new and improved student loan program, where they can apply for financing for other educational needs.
“Now that more Filipinos have access to a college education, let’s work on improving the quality of public education in the country,” stressed Sen. Bam.
Sen. Bam Aquino questioned the rise in number of drug-infested barangays in the country despite the aggressive campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) against illegal drugs.
”In just seven months, the number of moderately drug-affected barangays jumped from 4,303 to 9,207. Why is there such a large increase, more than double,” Sen. Bam Aquino asked during his interpellation on the budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Moderately affected barangays are defined as areas where at least two percent of the population are involved in illegal drugs. Based on records from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), these barangays increased from 4,303 to 9,207 from January to July of this year.
On the other hand, Sen. Bam lauded the decrease in the number of seriously affected barangays – or communities with a reported presence of a drug laboratory or marijuana plantation — from 217 in January 2017 to just 44 identified in July of the same year.
“May progreso naman ang kampanya ng pamahalaan. Maybe we can expect this to drop to zero seriously affected barangays by the end of the year,” said Sen. Bam.
Still, Sen. Bam asserted that the police force must work to win the trust of the Filipino people, especially with the issues hounding the government’s drug war.
“Marami nang Pilipino ang natatakot na maging collateral damage ng drug war,” said Sen. Bam, referring to the June 23 to 26, 2017 SWS survey where seven of 10 Filipinos expressed fear that they themselves or someone they know will become a victim of an extrajudicial killing (EJK).
The senator noted that while the drop in the country’s crime rate is commendable, there are still regions with alarming numbers for homicide cases, such as Central Luzon with 1,397 deaths, CALABARZON with 2,185, Davao Region with 1,141 deaths and NCR with 3,141 deaths.
“Bakit may mga areas na bumaba ang crime rate na wala gaanong homicide cases habang may mga regions na in the thousands ang mga namamatay?” Sen. Bam asked the DILG and PNP.
“Dapat pag-aralan ang mga area gaya ng MIMAROPA at CAR na mababa ang kaso ng pagpatay. Hindi ba ito ang dapat tularan, na sa pagbaba ng crime rate, mababa rin ang bilang ng namamatay,” stated Sen. Bam, to which the PNP agreed.
Region 4-B or MIMAROPA reported 273 deaths while CAR reported 175 deaths.
Sen. Bam also encouraged the DILG to hasten the process of dismissing scalawag policemen from the service to stop the abuses and the killings. As of latest data, the PNP said around two percent or 3,620 of the 181,000 policemen in the country are involved in illegal drugs.
Senator Bam Aquino sponsored a measure that will give over 200,000 innovative start-up businesses in the country a better chance of succeeding through tax breaks and other forms of assistance, including a P1 billion venture fund where they can apply.
In his sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 1532, Sen. Bam lauded innovative start-up businesses for finding solutions to the country’s problems.
“These are startups that provide unique and relevant solutions to our problems, from daily hassles, like finding a taxi during rush hour, to improving the delivery of healthcare, providing support for our farmers, and addressing unemployment,” said Sen. Bam, the principal sponsor and author of the measure as chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.
As sponsor of the measure, he said the Innovative Startup Act will reduce barriers that hamper the start-ups’ march to success.
“Let’s take this opportunity to empower our innovators and entrepreneurs with a heart for nation-building. Ipasa po natin ang Innovative Startup Act at himukin ang ating mga makabagong negosyante na lumikha ng mga solusyon para sa bayan,” said Sen. Bam.
Sen. Bam said the measure will provide support innovative startups through financial subsidies like tax breaks and grants and ease of red tape in business registration. Start-ups will also get technical assistance and training programs that can help them flourish
If enacted into law, innovative startups will also benefit from free use of equipment, facilities, and other services from government agencies, such as testing and fabrication facilities. They will also get assistance from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines for the patenting or licensing of their product.
As a former social entrepreneur before he joined the Senate, Sen. Bam has been working for the welfare of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups by giving them an environment conducive for growth.
Sen. Bam worked for the passage of Republic Act 10644 or the Go Negosyo Act to provide access to markets and financing for businesses, training programs, and a simplified business registration process, helping ease of doing business and hastening government processes in putting up a business.