In his first 100 days in office, Sen. Bam Aquino has proven himself to be a champion of inclusive growth and reform through his bills and other initiatives.
Despite being the youngest senator in the 16th Congress, Aquino has been given the task of leading the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, and the Committee on Youth, owing to his vast experience as a globally awarded social entrepreneur and youth leader.
Inclusive growth push
As part of his commitment to push for inclusive growth, Sen. Aquino hit the ground running by filing a slew of priority measures that aim to empower the poor through jobs, livelihood, and access to market and opportunities.
Among them are the Social Value Bill, the Social Enterprise Bill, the Youth Entrepreneurship Bill, the Go Negosyo Bill, the Microfinance Development Institutions Bill, the Fair Competition Bill, and the “Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy” Bill.
Aquino believes that these bills, once approved, will help solve poverty by generating more jobs and creating more livelihood opportunities through the promotion of micro, small, and medium-scale businesses.
“For me, inclusive growth needs to go through business. There is no way that we can achieve inclusive growth without engaging our countrymen in jobs or in enterprise building,” the entrepreneur-turned-lawmaker said.
“Para po sa akin, ‘yan ang isang pinakamalinaw na kailangang tahaking daan. Hindi po natin makukuha ang inclusive growth o malawakang kaunlaran kung hindi tayo tutulong sa mga kababayan natin na magnegosyo o magkatrabaho.”
Aquino also co-convened an Inter-Sectoral Committee on Business Empowerment (ISCBE), together with the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Landbank, and private sector representatives such as Gawad Kalinga and CARD-MRI. The ISCBE meets regularly to promote greater convergence around government’s inclusive growth agenda and to develop synergistic solutions to unemployment and poverty.
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Sen. Aquino also brought together key government agencies and members of the private sector and the academe to push for ease of doing business and to assess the country’s readiness for the ASEAN integration in 2015.
Reforms in governance, youth empowerment
The young lawmaker was also the first legislator to suspend his own Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). He also pushed for its abolition when the so-called P10-billion pork barrel scam was uncovered.
In line with his call to abolish the PDAF, Aquino filed the People’s Fund Bill that will give the people greater control over public funds. Through this measure, taxpayers will be given greater control over where public funds should be allocated.
Sen. Aquino has also filed Senate Bill No. 1090, or the Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan Bill, which seeks to overhaul the current Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) to instill among Filipino youth the true spirit of volunteerism and “save them from the clutches of partisan politics.”
The young senator also convened stakeholders and groups pushing for SK reforms and anti-discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, to further empower these communities and give them a voice.
Aquino expressed confidence that some of his priority measures will be enacted into law, particularly his inclusive growth bills, to help the government in addressing the high unemployment and poverty incidences in the country.
“At the end of the day, if we were able to solve the problem of inclusive growth, we’ll be one step closer to the Philippines that we would want for ourselves,” Aquino said.