Senate of the Philippines

Sponsorship Speech of Sen. Bam Aquino on Confirmation of Sec. Leonor Magtolis Briones as DepEd Secretary

Mr. President, majority floor leader, dear colleagues, magadang hapon.

 I stand before this Chamber as the Chairperson of the CA Committee on Education, Culture and Sports to recommend the approval of the confirmation of Secretary Leonor “Liling” Briones of the Department of Education.

 Mr. President, just this week, the Senate sent a strong signal to the Filipino people with an 18-0 vote for the passage of the Affordable Higher Education for All Act.

The message? As a country, we prioritize is education. The investment to educate our countrymen and arm them with the knowledge and skills to overcome poverty is the best investment we can make as a country.

 So today, Mr. President, it is my distinct privilege to manifest support for an esteemed Filipina who can lead the charge to provide quality education for every Filipino.

 Isa po siyang katangi-tanging lingkod bayan na kilala sa pagsulong ng de kalidad na edukasyon kasabay ng mabuti at maayos na pamamahala — she is no other than the incumbent Secretary of the Department of Education, Sec. Leonor Liling Briones.

Mr. President, our nominee has always exhibited excellence.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Business Administration major in Accountancy at Silliman University in 1958.

In 1967, she completed her Master’s Degree in Public Administration and was awarded Dean’s Lister for Local Government and Fiscal Administration in the University of the Philippines, Diliman campus.

 In 1968, she completed her Diploma course with distinction in Development Administration with a major in Public Enterprises in Leeds University, England.

 She also completed specialized studies in governance at Harvard University in 1984 and then again in 2004.

 But, distinguished colleagues, Sec. Briones has extended her reach beyond academic excellence. She has also embraced her passion for public service.

She served as the Secretary of the Commission on Audit for 9 years, from 1978 to 1987.

In 1996, she became the Vice President for Finance and Administration of the University of the Philippines System for two years before serving as the Presidential Adviser for Social Development.

Then, in 2001, Sec. Briones served as the country’s Treasurer. And as we are all aware for the past months, she lent her expertise, talents, and skills as the incumbent Secretary of the Department of Education.

Mr. President, kaakibat ng kanyang paglingkod sa bayan ang kanyang pagmamahal sa edukasyon.

As a technocrat in public administration, she maintained her involvement in the academe.

For forty years, she served as a professor and a faculty member at the graduate level of her alma mater – the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance, which we all know as NCPAG.

And in March 2013, the board of Regents of the same University conferred to her the honorary title Professor Emeritus.

 Not one to be confined – whether as a member of the academe or as a government official – Sec. Briones was also the Lead Convenor of Social Watch Philippines where she led a civil society campaign to increase the budget for social services, especially for education.

Mr. President, her service in various capacities, not to mention her consultancy engagements across sectors, has merited her numerous awards – perhaps too many to mention this afternoon.

What is evident is that Sec. Briones has made a lifelong commitment to exceptional public service. And we are fortunate to have her serve as a leader in our country’s pursuit of excellence in education.

 Honored colleagues, based on the accomplishments alone, it is clear that Sec. Briones is qualified for this job.

 And based on my personal experience working with her over the past 8 months, I can say that she truly is champion for education – one who can make our hopes and dreams for every Filipino student a reality.

And with that, Mr. President, dear colleagues, it is my distinct honor to endorse Sec. Leonor Liling Briones for the position, Secretary of the Department of Education.

Maraming salamat po, Mr. President!

Bam: Education is one of Senate’s utmost priorities

The passage of the Affordable Higher Education for All Act via 18-0 vote is a clear message to Filipinos that education is an utmost priority in the Senate, Sen. Bam Aquino emphasized.

“The Senate sent a strong signal to the Filipino people with an 18-0 vote for the passage of the Affordable Higher Education for All Act,” Sen. Bam said in his endorsement speech for the appointment of Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones.

“Our priority is education. We are investing in educating our countrymen and arming them with the knowledge and skills to build a better future for their family,” Sen. Bam told members of the Commission on Appointments.

In his earlier manifestation after the measure’s approval, Sen. Bam stressed that the Affordable Higher Education for All Act is the best investment that the country can undertake for the future of the students and the next generation.

Sen. Bam also thanked students, saying their everyday plight inspired lawmakers to pass the measure, which will provide free tuition fee in state colleges and universities and strengthen the government’s scholarship programs in private higher educational institutions.

 “Alam natin ang pinagdadaanan ng mga estudyante, kung gaano kahirap ang kinalalagyan at kung gaano nila kailangan ang batas na ito,” said Sen. Bam, who acted as principal sponsor and co-author of Senate Bill No. 1304.

The senator defended the measure during interpellation before he was removed as chairman of the Committee on Education and replaced by Sen. Chiz Escudero.

During his manifestation, Sen. Bam thanked Sen. Escudero for allowing him to finish work on the measure until its passage.

 The senator also lauded the Senate’s concerted effort, thanking fellow senators who helped develop and strengthen the measure during interpellation and period of amendments.

 “Nothing that passes through the Senate can be attributed to one person alone, one office alone which is why this team effort from across the aisle must be recognized,” said Sen. Bam.

 Sen. Bam also acknowledged concerned government agencies and private stakeholders for their contribution in tackling the different provisions of the measure.

Bam: Measure on free internet in public spaces hurdles Senate

The Senate has approved on third and final reading a measure that will establish free internet in public places and help fast-track the processing of permits for needed infrastructure and equipment to boost connectivity.
Via 18-0 vote, the Senate passed Senate Bill No. 1277 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, which aims to provide internet access in all national and local government offices, public schools, public transport terminals, public hospitals and public libraries.
“Access to the Internet is also access to more opportunities when it comes to livelihood, education and business. We want quality internet to be available to every Filipino,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, who sponsored and co-authored the measure as chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.
Under the measure, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be mandated to craft a plan and a timeline for the rollout of this program.
The measure also authorizes the DICT to cut red tape and streamline the process for the application of permits and certificates for the construction of infrastructure and installation of necessary equipment, in coordination with national government agencies and local government units.
In previous committee hearings, Sen. Bam said telecommunications providers have lamented the tedious and slow process in getting the needed permits and certificates for their infrastructure and equipment.
“Matapos maisumite ang kumpletong requirements, may pitong araw lang ang isang ahensiya o tanggapan na ilabas ang resulta ng aplikasyon. Kapag sila’y nabigo, maituturing nang aprub ang aplikasyon,” said Sen. Bam.
Aside from Sen. Bam, other authors of the measure are Sens. Francis Pangilinan, Manny Pacquiao, Ralph Recto, Joel Villanueva and Cynthia Villar. Co-sponsors were Sens. Grace Poe, Recto and Pangilinan.

Bam: New players needed to improve PH internet service

Sen. Bam Aquino still sees increased market competition as the quickest, cheapest and best solution to improve the country’s Internet service.

“The national broadband plan is a good step but increasing competition and getting more players in the telco industry is still the quickest, most sustainable solution,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.

 In previous committee hearings, Sen. Bam said it was determined by various stakeholders that more players are needed to improve Internet service while keeping prices reasonable.

 “This was the most significant finding during our Senate hearings on our slow and expensive internet in the country,” said Sen. Bam.

“It was true then, it’s true now. We have to make it easier for new internet providers to enter our market,” the senator added.

Aside from pushing for the government’s national broadband plan to improve Internet access across the country, Sen. Bam is also working for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1277 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, which he sponsored and co-authored.

Sen. Bam is the co-author and principal sponsor of Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act, which encourages healthy and fair competition in local industries by penalizing bad market behavior and abuse of dominant positions.

Senate Bill No. 1277 is expected to hurdle its third and final reading in the Senate next week.

Bam on death penalty: Di pa tapos ang laban

Hindi pa tapos ang laban!

A senator commended the 54 lawmakers who voted against the revival of the death penalty even as he assured that the proposal will go through the proverbial eye of the needle in the Senate.

“Kahanga-hanga ang kanilang katapangan at matibay na paninindigan laban sa death penalty,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, the deputy minority leader.

 “Nabigo man sila, hindi pa tapos ang laban dahil inaasahan nating dadaan ang panukala sa butas ng karayom sa Senado,” the senator said.

The proposal to restore death penalty hurdled the House on third and final reading Tuesday after getting 217 affirmative votes from lawmakers.

Earlier, Sen. Bam urged the Senate to allow the proper legislative process to run its course on the proposal.

 “Kailangang dumaan sa tamang debate at tamang proseso ang panukala at dapat mapakinggan ang lahat ng panig sa isyu,” the senator said, adding that the new minority will actively participate in the discussion.

 With just six members, Sen. Bam said the minority vote is not sufficient but he expressed confidence that fellow senators will cross party lines and follow the dictate of their conscience on the matter.

 “The minority votes clearly aren’t enough but I’m hoping there will be enough senators to vote this measure down. This should be a conscience vote and not done because of political affiliations,” Sen. Bam stressed.


Sen. Bam on Lascanas: Explain retraction

Hearing retired policeman Arthur Lascanas’ confession on the Davao Death Squad (DDS) is an indication of the Senate’s independence, according to deputy minority leader Sen. Bam Aquino.

​​“The Senate should not shirk from pursuing the truth. Kailangan malaman ng taumbayan ang buong katotohanan sa isyung ito,” said Sen. Bam, who was among 10 senators who voted to hear Lascanas’ claim.

​​During his previous Senate appearance last year, Lascanas denied the claim of Edgar Matobato regarding the existence of the DDS.

​​However, Lascanas retracted his statement last Feb. 20, saying the DDS indeed exists and former Davao City mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the killings.

 ​​It was also revealed that Lascanas wrote a confession in 2015, detailing all his knowledge about the DDS.

 ​​“These are heavy allegations against the president and it is our duty as an independent body to investigate,” said Sen. Bam.

​Sen. Bam also wanted Lascanas to explain why he is changing his story.

​​“Gusto natin malaman kung ano ang kaniyang  rason sa pagbabago ng kuwento at bakit siya umaamin sa mga nagawang krimen,” the senator said.

​​However, Sen. Bam said perjury will be the least of Lascanas’ worries as he admitted committing several murders when he recanted his testimony.

Lascanas will face the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, on Monday (March 6).

Bam: No rush, no secret votes on death penalty proposal

No railroading, no secret votes.

Sen. Bam Aquino said the Senate must allow the proper legislative process to run its course on the proposal to restore the death penalty.

 “We will not allow it to be rushed. We must ensure that proper debate on the matter be conducted,” said Sen. Bam, the newly designated deputy minority leader.

 In addition, Sen. Bam said senators must reveal their respective votes on the proposal to ensure accountability and transparency.

 “We will not allow votes to be anonymous or hidden and we will ensure accountability among our colleagues,” said Sen. Bam.

  “Bilang mga kinatawan ng mamamayan, dapat panindigan ng bawat senador ang kanilang magiging boto at kung kailangan ipaliwanag ang kanilang posisyon sa taumbayan,” he added.

 Through this, Sen. Bam said the Senate will show that it can still be an independent institution even with the heightened political strife in the country.

The House drew flak after it approved the death penalty on second reading via viva voce vote, or through loud voices.

 Earlier, Sen. Bam declared that the new minority will actively participate in debates once the proposal reaches the Senate floor.

 “Buhay po ang nakasasalalay dito kaya mahalaga na dumaan sa tamang proseso. Sa tingin po namin, dehado na naman ang mga kababayan nating mahihirap sa death penalty kaya tutol po kami rito,” the senator said.

 “I am still hopeful that my fellow senators will not vote across partisan lines and vote with their conscience on this matter. In the end, we may even be enough to take a stand,” he added.

Expect serious debate on death penalty — Bam

The proposal to revive death penalty will be seriously debated once it reaches the Senate plenary, Sen. Bam Aquino assured.

 “The minority will play an active role in the debates and we will make sure that counter perspectives are given a space in the Senate,” said Sen. Bam, who was recently elected deputy minority leader.

 “Filipino lives are at stake here at karamihan pa sa mga ito’y puro mahihirap na Pilipino na kadalasa’y dehado pagdating sa hukuman at sa mata na batas,” he added.

The Committee on Justice recently started hearing proposals to restore the death penalty.

However, the public hearing was indefinitely suspended amid worries that the country might violate the Treaty of International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) it signed in 1986.

 The treaty prevents states from carrying out execution as a form of punishment.

During that hearing, Sen. Bam urged fellow lawmakers to confer with foreign affairs officials regarding international treaties in connection with death penalty reinstatement.

The senator also wants economic managers to speak about the impact of death penalty on jobs and trade agreements entered into by the government in the past.

 “This move will also affect some of the treaties, conventions, and agreements we’ve already signed up to,” Sen. Bam said.

“Napakabigat ng isyung ito. Hindi dapat madaliin ang debate, lalo na’t makikinig ang publiko sa mga argumento sa Senado,” he added.

Bam to continue working on priority measures with minority

Sen. Bam Aquino’s new role as member of the Senate minority will not prevent him from pursuing passage of laws that will uplift lives of the Filipino people.

“Though we have a new role as the minority, sisiguraduhin pa rin namin na maipapasa ang mga batas na makakabuti sa ating mga kababayan,” said Sen, Bam, who was stripped of the Committee on Education’s chairmanship and replaced by Sen. Chiz Escudero last Monday.

“Hindi maliit na bagay ang pagkawala ng chairmanship sa kumite ng edukasyon. I chose the committee because there were a number of reforms we wanted to push like free tuition in SUCs and feeding program in public schools,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam also thanked Sen. Escudero for committing to continue the work that he started on several priority measures.

Before he was replaced, Sen. Bam was spearheading the interpellation on two education-related measures — the Free Tuition Fees in SUCs Act and the Pagkaing Pinoy Para sa Batang Pinoy.

“Sen. Escudero agreed to let me work on my priority education bills until they become laws,” Sen. Bam said.

The senator also thanked Sen. Grace Poe for acknowledging the committee’s work during his stint as chairman. Poe is a staunch advocate of the Pagkaing Pinoy Para sa Batang Pinoy Act.

While some senators have stated that the Liberal Party has hampered work on the Senate’s legislative agenda, LP President Sen. Kiko Pangilinan asserted that 20 out of 29 bills close to being passed are defended by LP lawmakers.

 In the past 6 months, Sen. Bam has filed 118 bills and 26 resolutions, has sponsored 4 committee reports, and conducted committee hearings for 5 resolutions and 15 bills.

Bam on removal as committee chairman: Nasampolan kami!

Nasampolan kami!

 This was how Sen. Bam Aquino described the move to replace him as chairman of the Committee on Education and strip other Liberal Party (LP) members of their respective committees.

 “This is really a political move – a partisan move. Palagay ko nasampolan kami because we’ve been speaking out against certain policies like the death penalty. Tutol kami doon,” Sen. Bam said in a radio interview.

 “Iyong pagbaba ng age of criminal liability, iyong pagsuporta kay Senador De Lima at iyong pagpunta namin sa EDSA,” he added.

During the session, Sen. Bam manifested that “if this is the price to pay to show up on the streets of EDSA, talking about democracy, talking about the issues of  violence on our streets, I gladly pay that price”.

After he was removed as committee chairman, Sen. Bam manifested that the move had nothing to do with the performance of the Committee on Education, to which no senator objected to.

 “I chose the education committee because may plano kami, may reporma kaming gustong itinulak. Thankfully, Sen. Chiz Escudero seems to be intent in pushing the same reforms. But it’s not a light matter because you put a lot of effort, you work on these bills,” Sen. Bam said.

Before he was replaced by Sen. Chiz Escudero, Sen. Bam was spearheading the interpellation on two significant education bills – the Free Tuition Fees in SUCs Act and the Pagkaing Pinoy Para sa Batang Pinoy measure.

“We will support Senator Escudero when he finalizes these bills and hopefully gets a second and third reading. It was a pleasure being your Committee on Education chairman,” Sen. Bam told colleagues.

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