Bam to DepEd: Ensure payment of teachers before Christmas

Sen. Bam Aquino called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to ensure that it will be a merry Christmas for thousands of public school teachers by expediting the release of their unpaid salaries and other benefits.
“Nais ko pong ipakiusap na madaliin sana ang paglabas ng suweldo, bonus at iba pang benepisyo na nakalaan para sa ating mga guro upang maging maligaya ang pagdiriwang nila ng Pasko, kasama ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Education, in his letter to DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones dated December 2, 2016.
The senator made the move after receiving information that some teachers have yet to receive their salaries and bonuses. 
“Batid ko na ang iba ay kulang pa ng requirements ngunit marami sa kanila ay kumpleto na ang mga dokumento at naghihintay na lang sa paglabas ng suweldo,” said Sen. Bam, whose office has already helped some teachers obtain their salaries and bonuses.
“Lahat tayo ay naghahangad ng magandang Pasko para sa ating pamilya at mahal sa buhay. Wala nang gaganda pa kung maipagdiriwang natin ito nang walang anumang alalahanin sa ating isipan,” he added.
As chairman of the Committee on Education in the 17th Congress, Sen. Bam is pushing for the enactment of laws that will provide teachers with additional support and incentives.
According to Sen. Bam, these support and incentives will make teaching in public schools attractive for teachers.
The senator is currently working on a bill that will provide teachers relocation allowance, hazard pay and health care insurance.
Sen. Bam also 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.
The measure will provide full subsidy program that covers 100 percent of the tuition fee and other miscellaneous expenses necessary upon the enrollment of the student in a state college or university.
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.

Lower Customs Cost for OFWs’ Balikbayan Boxes, Packages – Sen. Bam

Good news for 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) burdened by the tedious and costly process of sending balikbayan boxes to their loved ones in the Philippines.

Sending balikbayan boxes and other low-value and low-risk packages to the Philippines will be faster and cheaper if the proposal of Senator Bam Aquino to update the current de minimis threshold is enacted into law.

“Sending a balikbayan box home especially this coming Christmas season becomes burdensome for these modern-day heroes. Currently, these packages undergo a tedious process in the customs and are charged fees that are discouraging for OFWs to send more regularly,” the senator said.

“There is a need to provide the ten million Filipinos abroad, who have been already contributing greatly to the economy the past four decades, a better customs administration by reducing the de minimis threshold,” he added.

Currently, the Philippines has the lowest de minimis threshold, or the minimal volume of declaration of goods in the customs for consignments, in the ASEAN, at PhP10 or US$0.23. The ASEAN average threshold is at a hundred dollars.

“The extremely low Philippine threshold has not been changed since 1957 and is clearly antiquated. It needs to be updated to be reflective of current prices,” the senator said.

The lawmaker explained that thresholds for customs declaration signify increased documentation and processes for shipments at entry points in the country.

“Increased documentation leads to larger turnover and delivery time of goods, and larger administration costs that would yield lower revenue impact for both businesses and government,” he added.

 By increasing the de minimis level to a more realistic and relevant figure of P10,000, Aquino saidbalikbayan boxes and other packages of OFWs, entrepreneurs and other individuals will be processed by Customs faster with minimum fees.

“Also, it will enable the Bureau of Customs to focus its efforts in looking out for high-value, high-risk and high-revenue goods for collection and enforcement, thereby making customs processes more efficient,” he added.

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