Four laws in two years.
These were just some of the accomplishments of Sen. Bam Aquino, the youngest senator in the 16th Congress, during his first two years in office.
Included in the four laws authored, co-authored and principally sponsored by Sen. Bam is the landmark Philippine Competition Act or Republic Act 10667, which was passed under his watch as chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, after it gathered dust in the legislative mill for almost 25 years.
Recently signed into law by President Aquino, the Philippine Competition Act will level playing field for all businesses by penalizing anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominant players, aside from eliminating cartels that control supply and prices of goods in the market.
Aside from the Philippine Competition Act, the Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act was also signed into law by the Chief Executive.
The Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act or Republic Act 10668 will allow foreign ships carrying imported cargoes and cargoes to be exported out of the country to dock in multiple ports.
The law aims to reduce logistics costs for producers, create a more efficient import and export system, and lead to lower prices for consumers. It will also help in decongesting the major ports in the country.
Last year, the Go Negosyo Act and the Philippine Lemon Law were signed into law by President Aquino.
Sen. Bam’s campaign promises of spurring jobs and enterprise development, levelling the playing field, and ease of dong business were further fulfilled with these macro economic reforms together with the establishment of Negosyo Centers all over the country through the Go Negosyo Act.
“Just as we promised, we have worked tirelessly for the passage of these measures that will create jobs and livelihood for fellow Filipinos and a better business climate for our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” said Sen. Bam.
In addition, the President is also expected to sign the Youth Entrepreneurship Act soon.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Act, co-authored and principally sponsored by Sen. Bam, is touted to be an effective tool to solve the growing number of jobless youths in the country, which currently stands at 1.32 million.
The enactment of this into law will make Sen. Bam’s portfolio of laws to five in two years.
“Hindi mahalaga ang edad, kung bagito ka man o beterano sa posisyon natin. Ang mahalaga, kailangang nagtatrabaho tayo para sa kapakanan ng sambayanan na siyang naglagay sa atin sa trabahong ito,” added Sen. Bam.
Moreover, the Responsive, Empowered, Service-Centric Youth Act, which aims to institutionalize youth participation in disaster risk and reduction planning, was passed on third reading.
He was also able to file a committee report on the Mircofinance NGOs Act, which aims to empower the sector that provides microfinancing services to micro businesses.
Aside from his legislative work, Sen. Bam also initiated an investigation into the country’s expensive and slow Internet connection.
The investigation has produced several victories that will help improve the country’s Internet service. It encouraged telecommunication companies to embrace IP peering with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) while the Department of Justice (DOJ) has released guidelines against deceptive or misleading Internet print, TV and radio advertisements.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), for its part, is also expected to craft a memorandum circular that will set the quality of standards for all telecommunication companies to follow, be it broadband or DSL.
Sen. Bam also looked into the port congestion that hounded the Port of Manila early this year. After several hearings, port operations went back to normal, with utilization rate now between 70 to 80 percent.
Lastly, Sen. Bam worked together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), local governments, the academe, business clubs and other private groups in the establishment of Negosyo Centers that will assist small businesses.
Through the Go Negosyo Act, the Negosyo Centers aim to provide ease of doing business, access to business training & education, development services and financing for the growth of MSMEs.
As of this month, 61 Negosyo Centers have been established and 50 more are expected to be put up by the end of the year.