Sen. Bam: Independent Senate to safeguard welfare of Filipino people

Sen. Bam Aquino warned against a rubber-stamp Senate, stressing that an independent Upper Chamber will ensure that the welfare and interest of the Filipino people are protected.
“Hindi ito kampihan sa administrasyon o oposisyon. Dapat kinakampihan natin ang mga Pilipino,” said Sen. Bam, who is running for re-election under the Otso Diretso banner.
“Kailangan po nating tiyakin independent ang susunod na Senado para sa kapakanan ng taumbayan,” added Sen. Bam.
Sen. Bam underscored the importance of an opposition in the Senate, saying the country and the Filipino people will suffer if the Upper Chamber will simply give in to every desire of the administration.
“Hindi po makakabuti sa bansa kung ang lahat ng nasa Senado ay susunod na lang lagi sa gusto ng administrasyon. Kailangan na may titindig para sa interes ng taumbayan,” Sen. Bam said.
In the case of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, Sen. Bam said he voted against its ratification despite the heavy pressure coming from the administration as he is convinced that it will burden the Filipino people with high prices of food and other goods.
“Hindi po ako tumutol sa TRAIN Law dahil nasa oposisyon tayo. Tumutol po ako dahil responsibilidad ko na bantayan ang kapakanan ng taumbayan na siyang pahihirapan ng batas na ito,” said Sen. Bam.
However, Sen. Bam clarified that he’s willing to work with the administration when the welfare of the Filipino people is at the forefront.
Proof of this is the free college law, which Sen. Bam pushed as principal sponsor during his time as chairman of the Committee on Education in the 17th Congress.
“Ganyan po ang ginawa natin kaya naisabatas ang Free College Law. Dahil sa pakikipagtulungan, kahit kapos makakatapos,” said Sen. Bam, who has 35 laws to his name in almost six years as legislator.

Sen. Bam on new Senate leadership

Matindi ang hamon na hinaharap ng ating bayan at ng Senado. 

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Sen. Bam: People, not the President, should choose next barangay, SK leaders

Let the people and the youth elect their barangay leaders.

Sen. Bam Aquino made this call as he criticized efforts to allow President Duterte to appoint barangay officer-in-charge once the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections are postponed.

“We stand firmly against appointing barangay officials. These leaders should represent the people, serve the people and not to be indebted to Malacanang,” said Sen. Bam.

 “We must uphold our democracy and respect the right of the Filipino people to vote and elect their barangay leaders,” added the senator.

 The lawmaker insisted that the people’s right to choose their leaders through the ballot is a foundation of our democracy that lawmakers must recognize and respect.

 “Even if we hold over the current officials before the next elections, at least they have the mandate from the people,” said Sen. Bam.  

But Sen. Bam wants the barangay and SK polls to push through this October, saying it is long overdue, most especially the implementation of Republic Act 10742 or the SK Reform Act.

 “The last SK election was seven years ago. Since then, we’ve reformed the SK and even included an anti-political dynasty provision. I would personally want to see the SK elections push through to empower our youth leaders,” said Sen. Bam.

 As a former student leader and former chairman of the National Youth Commission, Sen. Bam has long advocated for the welfare of the Filipino youth through several legislations, including RA 10742, which he pushed as co-author and co-sponsor during his time as chairman of the Committee on Youth in the 16th Congress.

 The law adjusts age limit of SK officials from 15-17 to 18-24 years old, making them legally capable of entering into contracts and be held accountable and liable for their actions.

The law also requires SK officials to undergo leadership training programs to expose them to the best practices in governance and guide their development as leaders.

 The new law also mandates the creation of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), a council that will support the SK and ensure the participation of more youth through youth organizations.

The LYDC will be composed of representatives from the different youth organizations in the community – student councils, church and youth faith groups, youth-serving organizations, and community-based youth groups.

Sen. Bam: LTRFB decision on Uber punishes riding public

Sen. Bam Aquino stressed that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s decision to suspend Uber by one month is like punishing the riding public and the drivers who are earning from its operation.

 “By suspending the operation of Uber, they are penalizing the riders and the drivers,” Sen. Bam said in a radio interview.

 “If they wanted to penalize Uber, the LTFRB could have issued a fine. Instead, they suspend operations leaving the commuters with less options,” added Sen. Bam. “Suspending Uber will hurt the riding public more than the company itself”.

During a previous Senate hearing on the issue of transport network vehicle services (TNVS), Sen. Bam thought the issue was ironed out and a consensus was reached between the LTFRB and transportation network companies (TNC)

“I thought we were all on the same page to put our commuters first and to create a new regulatory framework for TNVS and taxis,” said Sen. Bam.

During the said hearing, Sen. Bam urged the LTFRB to prioritize the safety and commuting experience of the riding public and look out for the welfare of drivers of public utility vehicles.

 Sen. Bam stressed the need to develop a brand-new regulatory framework which govern transportation network companies (TNC), TNVS and even taxis.

 Sen. Bam, who filed Senate Bill No. 696 or the Rideshare Support Company, which aims to promote and encourage new, affordable and safe transportation options for the commuting public, like Uber and Grab.

The measure seeks to clarify regulations governing Transportation Network Companies, or Rideshare Support Companies (RSCs), as well as Rideshare Network Drivers and Vehicles.

 “In any industry, increased competition often leads to improved quality, improved service, and lower prices for consumers. For the commuting public, this is a change they have long clamored for,” said Sen. Bam.

 Once approved, RSCs must obtain certificate of accreditation from LTFRB before getting an authority to onboard qualified Rideshare Network Driver (RND) after a thorough background check and submission of pertinent documents.

Qualified RNDs must also have a minimum P200,000 per passenger personal accident insurance by licensed Philippine insurer.


Sen. Bam: Ensure effective dissemination of earthquake info to allay public fears

A senator wants to ensure if scientific data gathered by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) is effectively disseminated to allay fears and combat the prevalence of false information online and better prepare communities in the occurrence of destructive tremors.

 In Senate Resolution No. 343, Sen. Bam Aquino stressed the importance of proper use and dissemination of information to enhance capacity of government agencies, local government units and communities to mitigate, respond and recover from the damaging effects of earthquakes.

“Scientific data gathered by PHIVOLCS is crucial in the mitigation, preparedness and response to the hazards and impacts of earthquakes,” Sen. Bam pointed out.

After a series of earthquakes rocked different parts of the country recently, false and misleading information have circulated online predicting the exact date and location of the “Big One”, instilling panic among the citizenry.

 “Other articles and posts circulated online tell of signs of impending disasters related to the stranding of animals in local shorelines. There have also been articles circulated that present contradictory safety tips in case of earthquakes and disasters,” Sen. Bam said.

 In April, 11 earthquakes of at least 5.0 magnitude rocked different parts of the country, including Batangas, Lanao del Sur and Davao.

 After the series of tremors, PHIVOLCS immediately installed earthquake monitoring equipment in Wao, Lanao del Norte. In February, the agency also put up monitoring equipment in Dinagat Island to enhance its observation capabilities on earth movement.

 Currently, PHIVOLCS operates and maintains a network of 93 seismic stations spread across the Philippines. Data from the seismic stations are used to determine the location and characteristics of earthquakes.

MRT 40-Minute Waiting Time Unacceptable – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino urged concerned government and private entities to work together to reduce the waiting time for thousands of commuters to ride the MRT-3 from 40 minutes to 10 minutes.

Aquino made this call after he was informed that the waiting time for passengers before they could alight the trains will go down by 75 percent if the proposed rehabilitation plan worth P6.8 billion for the MRT-3 is fully implemented.

“Let’s work together to achieve this 10-minute waiting time. We owe it to the thousands of commuting Filipinos to make life easier for them everyday,” Aquino said after the hearing of the Senate committee on public services on the MRT-3 accident that injured more than 30 people last Aug. 13.

Aquino expressed disappointment when he was informed that the rehabilitation plan could take up to two years with all the legal wrangling between the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), a private entity.

Aquino branded the Metro Rail Transit-3 as a failed public-private partnership (PPP).

“This is not a good example of PPP, with what happened to our MRT,” Aquino stressed.

Aquino advised DOTC officials to learn from the MRT-3 experience to avoid problems in the future.

 “Can we say that we have learned from experience already and this would not happen again?” Sen. Bam asked DOTC officials, to which they replied ‘yes.’

At the same, the senator also urged the transportation officials to earmark the needed funds to rehabilitate a critical component that causes the MRT-3’s frequent malfunction at the soonest possible time.

The DOTC revealed the trains’ traction motors are the main cause of MRT breakdown as they have reached its limit of usage of 1.5 million kilometers.

 However, Aquino noticed in the presentation that the P94,500,000 fund needed for replacement of traction motors is earmarked in the 2016 budget.

“If this is the main reason why our trains have stopped, how come it wasn’t in the budget last year?” Aquino asked.

Abaya said he has already requested the Department of Budget and Management to include the needed funds in the supplemental budget for 2014.

“If it’s not successful, it will be included in the 2015 budget,” Abaya guaranteed. 

Sen. Bam Supports Calls for Special Audit of DAP


Senator Bam Aquino has supported calls on the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to, once and for all, remove doubts and other controversies hounding it.

“A special audit is needed so that doubts regarding DAP’s use will be put to rest,” said Aquino during the hearing of the Senate finance committee on DAP.

Through a special audit, Aquino said it would be determined if funds really went to legitimate projects or if somebody benefitted illegally from it.

“If somebody irregularly gained from it, then he or she should be prosecuted,” Aquino emphasized.

Aquino also stressed that DAP should not be associated with the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which was scrapped after the P10-billion scam was uncovered last year.

“The DAP helped boost the economy through projects that benefited the Filipino people while P10 billion from PDAF went to ghost non-government organizations and pockets of several politicians,” Aquino stressed.

The senator also lauded the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) posting all documents related to DAP on the agency’s website for transparency and accountability.

“We invite everyone to take a look and scrutinize where the funds went,” Aquino said.

Meanwhile, Aquino expressed support behind the government’s move to file a motion for reconsideration on the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter.

“I hope the SC will weigh the President’s position on the DAP’s constitutionality and act favorably on the matter,” the senator said.

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