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Bam: P8B budget for college tuition, good sign for free higher ed law

The additional P8 billion budget for free tuition in colleges and universities is a good sign that we will pass the Free Higher Education for All bill, according to Sen. Bam Aquino.

  “The Senate initiative to make colleges and universities tuition-free is a major reform that will greatly benefit Filipino families and the approved 8-billion peso budget for SUCs is a good sign that our bill will pass,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Education.

During Tuesday’s bicameral conference committee, lawmakers approved the additional P8 billion budget to be distributed to different SUCs in 2017.

As chairman of the Committee on Education, Sen. Bam has filed Senate Bill No. 177 or the Free Higher Education for All Act giving free tuition fee to all students in SUCs.

 Earlier, Sen. Bam expressed confidence that the measure will be enacted into law next year due to the Senate’s overwhelming support for its passage.

 “Mahalaga na mabigyan ng tulong ang ating mahihirap na estudyante at pati ang kanilang mga magulang. Marami sa amin ang talagang tinutulak ito,” said Sen. Bam.

 During a recent hearing, several sectors pushed different methods to implement the measure. Some groups want to focus on specific courses while others believe that it should be based on the student’s capacity to pay.

 Different groups also raised the possibility of expanding the measure’s coverage by providing poor students with miscellaneous expenses, transportation expenses and living expenses, in addition to a free tuition fee.

 Aside from improving access to tertiary education, Sen. Bam said he will also work to improve the quality of public education in the Philippines and address underemployment and jobs mismatch through Trabaho Centers.


Senate Bill No. 1249: Amending R.A. No. 7277 or Magna Carta for Disabled Persons

This bill seeks to guarantee the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the workforce and provide commensurate compensation, benefits, and employment term s for PWDs as any other qualified employees. Through this legislation, government offices will be mandated to ensure that 2% o f their employees comprise of PWDs whereas private organizations will be required to employ a workforce, at least 1% of which is made up o f PWDs. 

 As we forge onward in building the nation better and stronger, we must take the necessary steps to ensure that we are building an inclusive society where no sector is left behind from the gains of development. 

 This bill will allow persons with disabilities more meaningful and productive participation in society. Furthermore, an increased PWD presence in all workforces aims to heighten public awareness and consideration for the rights o f PWDs.


Bam wants to prohibit ‘No Permit, No Exam’ policy

A senator seeks to prohibit the discriminatory “No permit, No exam” policy in schools by making it illegal for any educational institution to prevent a student from taking examinations due to unpaid tuition and other fees.

 “Why should the student be barred from taking their tests and completing their requirements when there’s still a chance their family can settle payment of fees later,” asked Sen. Bam Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Education.

Sen. Bam’s Senate Bill No. 1235 prohibits schools from disallowing students with due and unpaid tuition and other school fees from taking examinations or providing a different schedule of exam from the rest of the student body.

The measure also bars schools from requiring a student to secure a special permit to take the examinations from the school authorities prior to the administration of examinations, according to Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Education.

A fine of P20,000 but not more than P50,000 will be imposed on any educational institution official or employee.

 This includes deans, coordinators, advisers, professors, instructors, principals, teachers and other concerned individuals found guilty of violating any of the aforementioned acts.

 However, the parents or legal guardian of the student must provide a promissory note, addressed to the school, indicating the amount and the date of payment as protection to the school’s right to fair payment.

 The measure covers private elementary schools, private secondary schools, public and private post-secondary technical-vocational institutes and public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), including local colleges and universities.

  “By penalizing this unlawful practice, Filipino families stand to gain by ensuring that students unable to settle educational fees on-time, may still benefit from the continuity of their education once outstanding balances are fully paid,” Sen. Bam said.

“Tulungan po natin ang pamilyang Pilipino na umasenso sa tulong ng edukasyon,” he added.

By protecting the welfare of students, Sen. Bam pointed out that they will have a fair opportunity to complete their education.

Bam eyes more jobs for PWDs in govt agencies, private firms

More jobs await persons with disabilities (PWDs) in government offices and private entities if the bill submitted by Sen. Bam Aquino will be enacted into law.

Sen. Bam’s Senate Bill No. 1249 seeks to amend Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons to mandate government agencies to ensure that two percent of their employees comprise of PWDs.

 Private organizations, for their part, will be required to employ 1 percent of their workforce from PWDs.

“This bill seeks to guarantee the inclusion of PWDs in the workforce and provide commensurate compensation, benefits and employment terms for PWDs as any other qualified employee,” Sen. Bam said.

“Let’s give our PWDs more opportunities to generate livelihood,” he added.

 If passed into law, Sen. Bam believes the measure will give PWDs a more meaningful and productive role in society.

“Furthermore, an increased PWD presence in the workforce aims to heighten public awareness and consideration for their rights,” Sen. Bam said.

In the 16th Congress, Sen. Bam tirelessly worked for the welfare of PWDs, with the passage of Republic Act 10754 that exempts them from paying the value added tax (VAT).

The law also gives tax incentives to persons with PWD dependents, up to fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.

Senate Bill No. 1211: Philippine Space Act

Rocket ships, astronauts, and scenes from outer space are what often come to mind at the mention of Space Science, but there are much more practicai technologicai appiications to this discipiine that can benefit countries iike the Phiiippines.

In fact, both deveioped and developing countries alike, including our ASEAN neighbors, have respective aeronautics and space agencies to build their own spaceships and join the ranks of space-faring nations.

Little known to many Filipinos is that our country has a number of existing programs related to space scjpnce including PAGASA, which has astronomical science programs; the National Mapping & Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA), which requires gathering satellite information; and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which handles disaster risk management. 

Other applications of space science and technology crucial to our country’s welfare are protection of national territory, natural resources accounting, and capacity building for telecommunications. 

This bill seeks the creation of a Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), which shall be responsible for creating and enacting our nation’s roadmap toward becoming fully participative in global space activity. 

The PhilSA would be responsible for developing space science technology policies, implementirig research and education programs, and establishing industry linkages between private and public sector stakeholders. Lastly, the PhilSA would be our country’s representation for international space agreements and arbitrations. 

A Philippine Space Agency, with its consolidated programs and strategies for space science and technology, will pave the way for future Filipino astronomers, space scientists, and astronauts by laying down a strong foundation in space science education and research.

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


BIDA KA!: Libreng kolehiyo

Mga bida, isa sa mga mahalagang panukalang batas na ating isinusulong bilang chairman ng Committee on Education ay ang libreng edukasyon sa state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Maliban sa inyong lingkod, lima pang senador ang nagsumite ng panukalang gawing libre ang pag-aaral sa SUCs.

Magkakaiba man ang nilalaman at detalye ng mga panukalang ito, iisa lang ang direksiyon na tinutumbok ng mga ito – ang bigyan ng libreng pag-aaral sa SUCs ang mga kapus-palad nating mga kababayan na nais magtapos ng kolehiyo.


Noong nakaraang Miyerkules, nagsagawa ng pagdinig ang ating kumite sa mga nasabing panukala. Ang pagdinig na ito ay dinaluhan ng iba’t ibang sektor na nagbigay ng kanilang komento at suhestiyon ukol sa panukalang batas.

Nagpahayag ng pangamba ang ilang sektor, lalo na sa pag-alis ng mga estudyante mula pribadong paaralan kapag ginawang libre ang tuition sa SUCs.

Isa pang pangamba ay kung paano epektibong ipatutupad ang panukala. May mga nagsabing dapat naka-target siya sa tipo ng kurso at may iba namang nagpanukala na nakatuon siya sa kakayahan ng estudyante na magbayad.

May nagbanggit naman na maging may kaya man o wala, basta nasa loob ng SUCs, ay dapat libre na ang edukasyon.

Maliban sa tuition fee, pabor din ang iba na isama sa saklaw ng panukala ang miscellaneous expenses, living expenses at iba pang bayarin upang lubos na makatulong sa mga nanga­ngailangan.

Ito ang ilan lang sa mga isyu na kailangang resolbahin upang matiyak na matutupad nito ang hangarin nating mabigyan ng libreng edukasyon sa kolehiyo ang mahihirap ngunit determinado nating mga kababayan.

Kaya nakatakda pang magsagawa ng ilang technical working group ang kumite kasama ang iba’t ibang sektor upang mapag-usapan at maplantsa ang mga mabusising isyu.


Subalit sa dami ng mga sumusuporta sa libreng edukasyon sa kolehiyo, tiwala ako na maisasabatas ito sa loob ng isang taon.

Sa huling tala, nasa P9 bilyon ang koleksiyon ng SUCs mula sa tuition fee ngunit sa aking palagay, hindi ito ang dapat tingnan.

Mas dapat bigyang bigat ng pamahalaan ay tulungan ang mga kabataan nating kapus-palad ngunit determinadong mag-aral na makatapos ng kolehiyo.

Sabi nga, dapat pagbuhusan ng pondo ang mga prayoridad na proyekto at programa ng gobyerno.

At kung mahalaga ang edukasyon, nararapat nga itong paglaanan ng pondo upang ang lahat ay makinabang, lalo na ang mahihirap.


Maliban sa libreng edukasyon sa kolehiyo, isa pa nating adbokasiya ay ang lalo pang pagpapaganda ng kalidad ng edukasyon sa ating mga SUCs.

Kumbaga, ang libreng edukasyon sa SUCs ay nakatuon sa pagbibigay ng access o pagkakataon sa mga mahihirap na makatapos ng kolehiyo.

Subalit hiwalay nating isinusulong ay ang lalo pang pagpapaganda sa sistema ng edukasyon sa SUCs sa pamamagitan ng mahahalagang reporma.

Kabilang sa mga repormang ito ay ang paglalaan ng pondo para sa mga dagdag na suweldo at benepisyo para sa mga guro at kailangang pasilidad at kagamitan ng SUCs.

Maliban pa rito, dapat ding tiyakin na ang mga kursong iaalok ng SUCs ay nakakonekta sa mga industriya upang mas madali ang paghahanap ng trabaho ng graduates.

Ito’y ilan lang sa ating mga tututukan at tatrabahuin bilang chairman ng Committee on Education ngayong 17th Congress.

BIDA KA!: Libreng wi-fi sa paaralan

Mga bida, bilang chairman ng Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture ngayong 17th Congress, bahagi ng aking tungkulin ay tingnan ang kalagayan ng mga pampublikong paaralan at state colle­ges and universities (SUCs) sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa.

Ito’y upang mapakinggan ang hinaing ng mga estudyante at ma­laman ang pangangailangan ng mga paaralan, tulad ng kakulangan ng silid-aralan, upuan, aklat at iba pang mga kagamitan.

Mahalagang malaman ang mga pangangailangang ito upang maisama at mabigyan ng karampatang pondo sa pambansang budget.


Kamakailan, dinalaw natin ang Alegria National High School nang magtungo tayo sa Bacolod City.

Natutuwa naman tayo sa mainit na pagtanggap ng mga estudyante, guro at mga magulang sa ating pagdating.

Ininspeksiyon natin ang mga silid-aralan at iba pang pasi­lidad ng paaralan at nagsagawa ng round table discussion sa mga pinuno ng paaralan at student leaders upang malaman ang kanilang pangangailangan.

Sa nasabing round-table discussion, nabigyan ng pagkaka­taon ang mga estudyante na magsalita at maiparating ang mga kailangan sa pag-aaral.

Isang Grade 10 ang tumayo at nagsabi na isa sa pinaka­malaking pangangailangan nila ay silid-aralan, na sa ngayon ay siksikan kaya nahihirapan silang mag-aral.

Isa pang binanggit ng estudyante ay ang kakulangan ng computer at internet sa kanilang paaralan na magagamit sa paggawa ng assignment.


Kahit pa kulang ang mga libro, kung may internet ay magagamit nila ang pinakamahusay at world-class na mater­yales para sa edukasyon.


Kabilang ang Alegria National High School sa 74% ng public schools na walang internet connection, batay sa data mula sa Department of Education (DepEd).

May sapat na pondo naman ang DepEd para i-connect ang mga paaralan sa internet ngunit dahil kulang ang imprastruktura at signal ng internet, hindi sila mabigyan ng magandang koneksiyon.

Nakababahala ang numerong ito dahil mahalaga ang connectivity sa internet sa pagtuturo at pagkuha ng karunungan.

Kaya sa ginawa nating pagdinig sa Senate Bill No. 1050 o ang panukala kong lagyan ng libreng internet ang public schools at SUCs sa buong bansa, hinikayat natin ang DepEd, Department of Information and Communications (DICT) at telecommunication companies na maglatag ng plano upang matugunan ang problema.

Sa ating pagdinig, humingi ako ng roadmap mula sa mga kaukulang ahensiya ng pamahalaan at pribadong sektor kung paano mabibigyan ang 100% ng public schools at SUCs ng libreng internet connection.

Sa paglalagay ng internet sa mga paaralan, masusuportahan ang pag-aaral sa pamamagitan ng learning materials at online information.

Sa ilalim ng panukala, aatasan ang bagong tatag na Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) na bigyan ng malakas na internet connection ang mga estudyante, faculty members at iba pang non-teaching personnel.

Ang internet connection na ito ay dapat ilagay sa isang lugar kung saan makakasagap ng malakas na signal ang lahat.

Kumbinsido ako na dapat sanayin ang mga estudyante sa responsableng paggamit ng internet upang mapabilis ang pag-unlad ng kanilang kaalaman at maging produktibong mamamayan sa hinaharap.

BIDA KA!: Trabaho Centers

Mga bida, isa sa mga isinusulong natin sa Senado ay matugunan ang problema ng kawalan ng hanapbuhay ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ng mga kabataan.

Sa Hulyo 2015, nasa 6.5% ng mga Pilipino ang walang trabaho habang 21% ang underemployed o mayroong trabaho ngunit mas mababa ang antas at sahod kum­para sa kanilang kakayahan. Kasama rin sa underemployed ang mga umaasang makahanap ng full-time na trabaho ngunit part-time lang ang kanilang mahanap.

Pagdating naman sa tinatawag na youth unemployment, nasa 15.7% ng mga kabataan ang walang hanapbuhay sa bansa.

Isa sa mga pangunahing dahilan na itinuturo rito ay ang jobs mismatch o ang kawalan ng sapat na kaalaman at kasanayan sa mga naghihintay na trabaho sa merkado.


May kanya-kanyang programa ang mga kaukulang ahensiya ng pamahalaan, tulad ng Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) at Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) upang masolusyunan ang problemang ito.

Ngunit napag-alaman natin sa hearing ng Committee on E­ducation na ang kalahati ng solusyon ay ginagawa na ng DepEd at TESDA habang ang ilang bahagi naman ay ginagampanan na ng DOLE.

Ang kulang lang ay kung paano mapag-uugnay ang mga prog­ramang ito, ang mga paaralan, at ang pribadong sektor upang lalong maging epektibo sa pagtugon sa problema sa kawalan ng hanapbuhay at jobs mismatch.

Isa sa mga nakikita nating solusyon dito ay ang paglalagay ng Trabaho Center sa bawat Senior High School (SHS) sa bansa na nakapaloob sa aking Senate Bill No. 170.

Sa tulong ng nasabing panukala, mapag-uugnay ang pri­badong sektor na nangangailangan ng empleyado at ang mga programa sa edukasyon at training ng iba’t ibang paaralan para sakto ang kaalaman at kasanayan ng mga graduates sa nag­aantay na trabaho.



Natutuwa naman tayo at nagpahayag ng buong suporta ang iba’t ibang ahensiya at pribadong stakeholders sa aking pa­nukala nang magsagawa tayo ng hearing ukol sa Trabaho Centers kamakailan.

Kapag ito’y naisabatas, magkakaroon ng Trabaho Center o job placement centers sa bawat Senior High School sa bansa na tutulong sa SHS graduates na makahanap ng trabaho na akma sa kanilang kaalaman.

Sa pagtaya, nasa 50% ng Senior High School students ay hindi na tutuloy sa kolehiyo at maghahanap na ng trabaho pagka-graduate.

Dito na papasok ang Trabaho Center, na siyang tututok sa tatlong malaking bagay — career counseling services, employment facilitation at industry matching.

Mahalagang masiguro na ang magtatapos sa ilalim ng K to 2 program ay may sapat na kaalaman at kakayahan upang tugunan ang kailangang trabaho sa merkado.

Maganda rin kung alam ng SHS graduates ang kalagayan ng job market sa lugar kung saan sila nakatira, kung anu-ano ang mga oportunidad sa kanilang paligid at trabaho na maaari nilang pasukan.

Sa ganitong paraan, matutugunan ang jobs mismatch, na isa sa sinisisi sa mataas na antas ng youth unemployment.

Maliban dito, hindi masasayang ang pagod ng ating mga guro, estudyante, at pati ng kanilang mga magulang.

Pagtapos ng Senior High School, dapat may angkop na trabahong naghihintay para sa mga nagtapos.

Kasabay ng pagtatapos ng unang batch ng Grade 12 sa 2018, umaasa tayo na nakapuwesto na rin ang ating Trabaho Centers upang mabigyan sila ng agarang tulong para makakita ng trabahong pasok sa kanilang kaalaman at kasanayan.

Bam: Entice overseas Filipino scientists to return to PH, help in R&D

A senator has filed a bill seeking to provide overseas Filipino scientist with financial benefits and incentives to encourage to return to the Philippines and help boost the country’s research and development.

“Although numerous Filipino scientists would like to serve their country and contribute to our technological, social, and economic advancement, many opt to move overseas where their work is highly valued, and where there are more opportunities to conduct meaningful research,” said Sen. Bam Aquino in Senate Bill No. 1183.

 Sen. Bam saw the need to entice Filipino scientists working overseas to return to the Philippines after research showed that the country produced fewer research papers and file far fewer patents with 1.8 per million population in 2010, compared to Thailand (17.6), Malaysia (43.4), and Vietnam (3.5).

“Filipino scientists have been contributing to groundbreaking advancement in scientific research all over the world with their talent, intelligence, and creativity. Yet as a country, we are lagging behind our neighbors in scientific output,” explained Sen. Bam.

 According to Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology, the measure aims to institutionalize the Balik Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

 Reinstated in 1993 by virtue of Executive Order No. 130, the DOST’s Balik Scientist Program has successfully encouraged some of our scientists to return and contribute to research that will address development gaps in the Philippines.

 The Balik Scientist Program provides financial incentives for overseas Filipino scientists and facilitates their return to work on either a short-term or long-term basis.

 The program subsidizes the cost of returning to the Philippines to impart their technical expertise to the nation, while conducting research to address our country’s needs.

 “Institutionalizing this will provide financial benefits to returning overseas scientists, but more importantly, it will signify our government’s commitment to, and recognition of science, research and development,” he added.

 Once enacted into law, Sen. Bam said the bill will assure Filipino scientists that their work is valued and that the government is their partner in promoting, and protecting research and development.

 “It is not just Filipino scientists that stand to gain from this program, but the Filipino people, as the brightest minds pour their brain power to solving longstanding problems like poverty through science and technology,” Sen. Bam stressed.

Bam: Provide support for public school teachers

Senator Bam Aquino wants to make teaching in public schools attractive by providing teachers with additional support and incentives.

“We have enough budget to hire additional teachers but many of them find teaching in public schools unattractive because of inadequate pay, lack of benefits, and a poor working environment,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Education.

Sen. Bam made the pronouncement for World Teachers Day, capping off National Teachers Month.

 The senator is currently working on a bill that will provide teachers relocation allowance, hazard pay and health care insurance.

 “This is especially relevant for teachers in far flung areas,” said Sen. Bam.

As key to the success of our education reforms and national development, Sen. Bam said teachers should be given additional support and proper compensation for our teachers while they shape the country’s future.

 Aside from additional benefits for teachers, Sen. Bam also wants to improve the working environment of public school teachers by addressing backlogs in classrooms, improving facilities, and giving all public schools access to the internet and online educational materials.

 Recently, Sen. Bam filed Senate Bill No. 173 or the Free Education for Children of Public School Teachers Act.

 If passed into law, free education in state universities nationwide will be given to children of public school teachers in all levels, whether they want to pursue baccalaureate degrees or short-term training course.

According to the measure, the full subsidy program shall cover 100 percent of the tuition fee and other miscellaneous expenses necessary upon the enrollment of the student in a state college or university.

Sen. Bam also filed the Nurse in Every Public School Act or Senate Bill No. 663 to support our public school teachers that are burdened with duties on top of teaching, such as administrative work and even caring for sick students.

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