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INCLUSIVE GROWTH IMPERATIVE: Ensuring No Filipino Gets Left Behind

16th Congress: Selected Speeches of Senator Bam Aquino 2016 by the Office of Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" A. Aquino IV Rm. 510, 5th Floor, Senate of the Philippines, GSIS Financial Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City Tel. No. (632) 552-6601 Fax No. (632) 552-601 local 8623 Email: All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher. For the full version of the publication, visit





Dear Friends and Fellow Filipinos, How relevant is a speech book in the time of Facebook and the Internet? The last time I saw a book of speeches was probably in 1983 when we would collect my uncle’s memorabilia, from Laban! pins to Ninoy, Hindi ka Nag-iisa t-shirts. But amid all the collectibles, what excited me most were pamphlets of his speeches. More than the stickers and key chains, these speeches revealed the issues that mattered to him and the passion he had in pursuing them. Though a book of speeches may seem outdated in this era of 140 character sound bites, I am hopeful this will break through fleeting headlines and shine a light on the advocacies we fought for during the 16th Congress. For those of you who prefer the 140 character blurbs, please follow me on Twitter (@BamAquino) and Facebook (BenignoBamAquino). But for those who are curious and willing to have a longer read - this book is for you.





The 3Ms and the Inclusive Growth Imperative

Go Negosyo Act Sponsorship Speech

PRESENT Bill Sponsorship Speech

Partnerships for Inclusive Growth




Sponsorship Speech for the Amendments of the Cabotage Policy


Accepting Pope Francis’ Challenge




Philippine Competition Act Sponsorship Speech


Microfinance NGOs Act Sponsorship Speech


Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act Sponsorship Speech


The Future in Your Hands





Youth Entrepreneurship Act Sponsorship Speech

RESCYouth Act Sponsorship Speech

Defining the Filipino Youth

People Power Today

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SK Reform Act Sponsorship Speech

Vanquishing the Voices of Doubt and Cynicism




Good morning! Magandang umaga sa ating lahat, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan! Thank you very much for having me here today! I would also like to thank you all for supporting the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector and in taking part in advancing sustainable and inclusive growth in the country. Maraming salamat!

Today, I would like to begin by sharing with you my experience in social enterprise, an experience that has shaped my understanding of the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector in the country. In 2007, I co-founded the Hapinoy program where we worked with Filipino micro-entrepreneurs, particularly our sari-sari store owners – a sector I’m sure anyone working in P&G Philippines is very familiar with. Together with microfinance partners, we wanted to support micro-entrepreneurs living in poor and marginalized communities in our rural countryside to grow their business and make a better life for themselves and their families.


What we found was that with the right programs and the right interventions, these micro-entrepreneurs, who were mostly mothers or nanays, most of whom didn’t finish high school, could graduate to become successful entrepreneurs.

What we found was a basic formula for helping and supporting them – our 3 Ms:



For Money, we worked with a microfinance partner to offer them loans that allowed them to grow, earn, save, and even invest in new businesses. We made sure that they developed the skills to handle money with financial literacy seminars and standard business training programs. But what we found was the importance of our second M, which is Mentorship. Alongside developing business and entrepreneurial skills, we included personal and family development modules to our training. It was this coupling of personal development and business skills development that gave rise to a true transformation among our nanays. These able entrepreneurs were ready to take on opportunities to grow their businesses and take charge of improving their lives. They were ready for the third and final M – Market. Our program linked them to suppliers and distributors in their area and equipped them to manage their own customers, who are, as many of you know, unlikely to pay immediately because of the pa-lista system. With their newfound confidence, their newfound learning, many of our nanay micro-entrepreneurs managed all parts of their business well and became true success stories. These nanays started seeing themselves as capable business owners, as managers and as leaders.

Most of them were actually from our microfinance partner and they would say in Filipino: "Noon po, mangungutang lang kami. Ngayon po, entrepreneur na kami.” In English: “We were just people who borrowed from lenders. Now, we’re entrepreneurs."


Supporting these micro-entrepreneurs with the 3 Ms empowered them to build sustainable and profitable businesses.

This, we realized, was a scalable model that could provide transformation and change in communities all over the Philippines. .

And it was this model that we kept in mind as we passed laws in the hope of spurring socio-economic growth in the Philippines. I have been a Senator for two years now and many of the policies that we’ve passed, many of the laws we have passed still circle around these 3 Ms.


MICROFINANCE NGOS ACT For the first M, Money, we have the Microfinance NGOs Act that has recently been ratified and is now just awaiting the President’s signature. This will be my 6th law. This piece of legislation was drafted in coordination with and in support of microfinance NGOs that provide a variety of non-collateralized loans to low-income households. What’s more, the Microfinance NGOs Act will encourage microfinance institutions to transition to becoming microfinance NGOs that provide more than just loans or financial assistance but also provide training programs and seminars to enhance the entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy of their borrowers.

CREDIT SURETY FUND COOPERATIVE ACT Another measure we’re currently taking up and is now in the period of individual amendments is the Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act. This is another measure under Money and is a measure that will support small and medium enterprises in accessing credit. This targets the missing middle – maybe something applicable to the SMEs here. SMEs with loan requirements that range from 500,000 pesos to 5 million pesos will be catered to by the Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act. This is what we perceive to be missing in our financing landscape. When it comes to micro, we have the cooperatives and the microfinance institutions. When it comes to the medium and large, our banks are actually quite willing to provide loans. So hopefully we’ll be able to provide loans at this space with comparable rates completing the whole financial inclusion supply chain.


YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACT Under Mentorship, the third policy I would like to share is already signed into law. In fact, this was signed into law last August 27 – Republic Act Number 10679 or the Youth Entrepreneurship Act. This is our bet on the youth because it includes financial literacy and entrepreneurial training in basic education – grooming young Filipinos to become the successful entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs of the future. Up to the time that this law was signed, we had no financial literacy or entrepreneurship in the Philippine school system. So hopefully this will help the revolution of developing more entrepreneurs among our countrymen. This measure also has provisions on enabling promising young entrepreneurs with grants and financing as we put our faith in the youth to generate jobs, not only for themselves but also for the people in their community.

PHILIPPINE COMPETITION ACT Moving on to the last M for market, we realized there was a need to establish ground rules in doing business in the Philippines for start-ups and for MSMEs to have better chances of getting a piece of the market share. We need to ensure that businesses are competing in the market through innovation, through quality, and through price and not simply using size and muscle to impose barriers to entry. The Philippine Competition Act, 25 years in the making and signed into law last July 21, 2015, will set ground rules to create a fair business environment and penalize abuse in dominant position and anti-competitive behavior to level the playing field for our SMEs. This is the most difficult law that our office has passed. This is a landmark law and I’m very happy to know that you will be discussing this later today.


GO NEGOSYO ACT & NEGOSYO CENTERS With rules established and the playing field fair for firms of all sizes, the next step is to provide easier access to the market. This is one gap that we saw which was a concern for most start-ups and for most MSMEs - that access to markets, that ability to get your goods and services to larger markets outside of your barangay, your village, your province towards a nationwide presence, maybe even a regional or worldwide presence. The first law we passed in partnership with DTI seeks to do that and more. The Go Negosyo Act mandates the establishment of Negosyo Centers in every town, city, municipality, and province of the Philippines to serve as a network of support hubs for entrepreneurs, linking them to suppliers and markets. Negosyo Centers serve as a convergence point linking all of the 3 Ms – Money, Mentorship, and Market – to our Filipino entrepreneurs and our Filipino MSMEs.


I’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU THE CASE OF MELVIN AND MYRNA ROJO OF ILOILO CITY. Both teachers, Melvin and Myrna were struggling to achieve financial stability. In search for greener pastures, Melvin left to become a teacher in Brunei in 2001 while Myrna stayed to teach back here. But when Myrna fell ill, she was forced to seek treatment in Brunei in 2007 where, upon her recovery, they decided to make something out of her passion for baking. They put up a successful cake business in Brunei and were happy with the life they had made for themselves abroad. Unfortunately, they could not stay in Brunei after the retirement age of 55 years. They returned to Iloilo City just last December 2014 with an uncertain future and an impression that it would be too difficult to venture into business in the Philippines. Shortly after the Iloilo City Negosyo Center opened this January 2015, Melvin and Myrna visited the center, not sure of what support they would receive. That visit turned out to be the first step in their journey to bringing Myrnz Creations back to life! The Negosyo Center helped them with their business registration and other government requirements. They attended trainings for food safety, business plan creation, financing, and entrepreneurship.

The center also linked them to Landbank where they can avail of a special loan particularly for returning overseas workers. And I’m happy to report that they have been approved for this loan just this month. They can now use this loan to improve their kitchen or possibly to invest in vehicles for deliveries. Myrnz Creation is already getting orders and their cupcakes are particularly popular among new clients. (When I visit Iloilo next Friday, I’ll taste some for all of you and give you feedback if it tastes great!) This story is one of many stories of growing start-ups and MSMEs in the country and we are hoping to support them with the 3 Ms through our Negosyo Centers. So far, with the hard work of DTI led by Sec. Domingo and Usec. Maglaya, we have launched 92 centers from Zamboanga City and Cagayan De Oro City to Aklan and Baguio City – most of the major cities and provinces in the Philippines already have functioning Negosyo Centers and this is to ensure the growth of MSMEs around the country.



People often ask me,


SEN. AQUINO, WHY MSMES Why do you invest your time and your effort to developing the MSME sector when you know it won’t get you in the headlines, when you know it won’t go viral on social media, and it probably won’t score you any political points?

Well, to put it simply, it’s because we have to; we must. Inclusive growth and spreading opportunities throughout the nation is our best bet to achieve sustainable prosperity in the Philippines.


As you know, the country has been experiencing tremendous economic growth. From being the “Sick Man of Asia� just a decade ago and lagging behind our ASEAN neighbors, we are now the fastest growing economy in the ASEAN and second only to China in Asia.

But we cannot continue on this path of economic growth without addressing the issue of poverty, the issue of the glaring wealth gap in the country, and the issue of inclusive growth.



– you probably heard it from a government program or during the State of the Nation Address of the President. But Inclusive Growth has grown from being a slogan to being a true imperative for the country. Inclusive Growth must be the true palpable revolution in the Philippines. And the key to this Inclusive Growth in our country is the success of our MSME sector. Our MSME sector, dear friends, will provide jobs that many of our countrymen need and will support our local economy. And I am so thankful to P&G for focusing on this sector as it is the sector closest to my heart. The support and the success of our MSME sector will lead to the support and the success of our country. Kailangan po natin ito. This is what we have to focus on. Together with all of you, our friends from the SME sector, we can work to grow and be the successes we all want to be and get the opportunities that we want to get, like opportunities presented to us today by P&G’s SME College. Together, we hope that your success will lead to the success of the country. So let me end there. Again, I would like to thank the organizers and all of you for fighting the good fight! In the government sector, we will keep working to get you the support you need and rightfully deserve. Thank you and good morning!




Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon. It is my honor and privilege to stand before you today to sponsor Senate Bill No. 2046 under Committee Report No. 10, otherwise known as the Go Negosyo Bill. This measure aims to facilitate ease of doing business, push the growth of micro and small enterprises, create jobs and livelihood around the country, and hopefully achieve the inclusive growth that millions of our fellow Filipinos desperately wish to be part of. The fact that the Philippines has grown astoundingly over the past three years is no longer news to us. Since 2010, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III has worked hard to institute fiscal reforms and anti-corruption measures that have led to robust economic growth, global investor confidence, and our recently earned investment grade ratings by Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor.


From being the “Sick Man of Asia” just a decade or so ago, we are now among the “Breakout Nations” and one of Asia’s “Rising Stars.” Today, we are second only to China in terms of growth. Just the other day, Standard & Poor released a report saying that the Philippines will continue to be the “fastestgrowing economy” in the ASEAN—despite the devastation brought by Yolanda, and cognizant of the rebuilding efforts in different provinces around the country. We can say that our macroeconomic numbers, especially over the past year and a half, have been phenomenal. However, all this growth means nothing if we cannot create jobs, livelihood, and “mass employment” for millions of poor Filipinos.

Hindi po katanggap-tanggap na habang umaarangkada ang ating ekonomiya, marami pa ring Pilipino ang patuloy na naghihirap. From our perspective as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, and based on our experience as a social entrepreneur working with different poor communities, we have identified several keys to unlocking inclusive growth. These are: one, comprehensive and meaningful support for micro, small, and medium enterprises; two, unhindered access to inclusive finance; three, support for social enterprises through inclusive supply chains; four, a K+12 educational system geared towards enterprise development and job placement; and five, a clear pipeline for the 4Ps program towards productivity. Underpinning all of these is the development of our micro and SME sector, which accounts for 99% of all businesses in the Philippines and at least 66% of all jobs in the labor force.


The numbers show that boosting the MSME sector will help us create more decent, sustainable jobs that can lift many Filipinos out of poverty.

We also need to look at MSMEs as a pipeline for development, instead of seeing the micro, the small, and the medium enterprises in silos. We need programs that will enable micro enterprises to enter the formal economy; our goal should be to help them “graduate� into SMEs so that they grow and generate revenue and jobs for our communities.


MSME development is a continuum that needs support at each stage from the government and the private sector. THE HAPINOY EXPERIENCE Before running for the Senate, kasama po ako sa isang grupo na nagtayo ng isang social enterprise na tinatawag na The Hapinoy Program. Dito, pitong taon tayong nagtrabaho upang palaguin ang mga maliliit na negosyo ng ating mga mahihirap na kababayan kasama ng mga micro finance institutions. Dito natin nakita kung paano nakakatulong ang mga programang pangnegosyo sa mga kababayan nating nagnanais na iangat ang kanilang sarili mula sa kahirapan.

Naaalala ko ang kuwento ni Tita Belen Jimenez ng San Antonio, Quezon, isa sa aming mga Hapinoy Nanays. Bago siya naging bahagi ng Hapinoy Program, si Nanay Belen ay nagpapatakbo na ng sari-sari store at pinahiram pa ng dagdag na P40,000 pang-kapital ng kanyang biyenan. Subalit, imbes na lumago ang kanyang negosyo, naubos rin ang kapital ni Tita Belen dahil hindi mainam ang


kanyang pagpapatakbo ng kanyang negosyo. Dagdag pa dito, napakataas ng kanyang pautang sa mga customer at nanakawan pa ng dalawang beses. Ngunit, sa tulong ng aming naisagawang programa, nabigyan si Tita Belen ng training sa paghawak ng pera at pagma-manage ng kanyang sari-sari store business. Sa loob ng limang taon, lumaki ang kanyang negosyo at nadagdagan pa. Ngayon, mayroon na siyang dalawang tricycles; isang computer set; at silk screen, laminator, at photocopier para sa kanyang maliit na printing business. At lubos pa dito, ang sari-sari store ni Tita Belen ay isa na ring Padala Center. Napatunayan ng Hapinoy Program na sa tama at akmang pamamaraan at programa, maaaring kumita at umasenso ang isang maliit na negosyo.

Noong mga panahon na napakalayo pa sa aking isip ang maging isang senador, lagi naming noong nasasabi,

“Sana ang ganitong klaseng suporta, ang ganitong klaseng programa, ay maibigay sa bawat Pilipinong nangangarap magkaroon ng isang negosyong tutulong sa kanyang pamilya.” Nararapat lang na ang suporta para sa mga maliliit na negosyante ay mahanap ng Pilipino sa lahat ng sulok ng ating bayan.

WHAT DOES THE NEGOSYO BILL HOPE TO ACHIEVE? At its core, the Go Negosyo Bill addresses this current gap in our government support systems. By empowering and supporting our MSMEs, which comprise 99% of all businesses in the country, we set them on a pipeline for development. Hence, this bill is a “foundational” and necessary aspect of our country’s inclusive growth agenda. At the heart of the Go Negosyo Bill is infrastructure and support for MSMEs at the city and municipal level so that each local government is able to boost MSME growth and provide jobs and livelihood for their constituents.


That said, we have designed the Go Negosyo Bill to connect to and complement two existing laws: the Magna Carta for MSMEs and the BMBE Law. It deepens the Magna Carta for MSMEs by establishing Negosyo Centers supervised by DTI in each city and municipality as a hub for MSME registration and development. Entrepreneurs of

all sizes will know they have a partner in starting and growing their businesses, and getting access to the right kind of training, mentoring, and value chain linkages. Some of the functions of the proposed Negosyo Centers include, but are not limited to, the following: • Promote ease of doing business by integrating a single business processing system for MSMEs and coordinating/ facilitating government processes and requirements related to the registration, setup and management of MSMEs; • Facilitate access to grants and other forms of financial assistance, shared service facilities and equipment, and other support for MSMEs; • Organize mentoring programs for prospective and current entrepreneurs and investors, and offer services on training, financing, and marketing. This includes mapping out information and services related to key value chains and economic subsectors within the LGU’s jurisdiction; • Coordinate with schools and organizations on the development of a youth entrepreneurship training program; • Build local support networks and establish market linkages for MSME development, support private sector activities relating to MSME development, and conduct other programs or projects for entrepreneurial development aligned with the national MSME development plan.


We believe that increasing the resources and the reach of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will help them be more responsive in addressing the concerns of our MSMEs. The Go Negosyo Bill is also pushing for stronger private sector representation, as well as the inclusion of more government agencies, in the MSME Development (MSMED) Council, to ensure tighter public-private collaboration in addressing the needs of the MSME sector. Another key feature of the Go Negosyo Bill will unlock the benefits of the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBE) Law. The BMBE Law was passed in 2002, but, unfortunately, only less than one percent (1%) of all micro enterprises have availed themselves of its benefits. We believe that if we simplify and design more appropriate processes, cut red tape, and give MSMEs a strong support system, we will finally be able to promote ease of doing business and realize the intended vision of the BMBE Law. Once again, Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, on behalf of our partners in the DTI and the private sector, we are privileged and honored to sponsor before this august body the Go Negosyo Bill,

a piece of legislation created to help our countrymen out of poverty and towards a path to prosperity. We humbly ask for our esteemed colleagues’ support and consideration. Maraming salamat po at magandang hapon.





Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon. It is my honor and privilege to stand before you today to sponsor Senate Bill No. 2210 under Committee Report No. 24 otherwise known as the Poverty Reduction through Social Enterpreneurship or PRESENT Bill. The objective of this measure is to empower our marginalized sectors and provide them with the proper infrastructure where they can get the right opportunities to grow and progress.

We need to create an environment where they can stand on their own, and be able to participate meaningfully in our economy and society. These conditions are to be inclusive and fair, where individuals and communities can afford to explore new ways of solving the complex problems of poverty and injustice.


Sa kabila ng nababalitang economic growth, marami pa rin tayong kailangang gawin para maging totoo at makabuluhan ito sa ating mga kababayan. Tinatayang may 2.969 milyong Pilipino ang walang trabaho ngayong taon.

Dadagdag pa ang mga nagsipagtapos na mga estudyante noong nakaraang buwan na mga walang trabaho. Paano nila masasabing umuunlad ang bansa samantalang makikipagbuno sila sa paghahanap ng trabaho upang makatulong sa kanilang mga pamilya? Paano natin matutulungan ang ating maliliit na negosyante, ang mga tindera sa palengke, ang mga may-ari ng sari-sari store, mga magsasaka at mangingisda upang mapalago ang kanilang kinikita upang lalong masustentuhan ang kanilang mga pamilya? Kaya’t mga kaibigan, kailangan ay patuloy tayong tumugon upang malagpasan ang mga pagsubok at kahinaan.


If we are to take on the challenge to join in the movement to decrease the poverty rate, bridge the big divide between the rich and the poor, and be able to spread the wealth to more Filipinos, there is a need for us to think of creative and innovative solutions to address inequality in our country. Kailangang bigyan ng pantay-pantay na pagkakataon at access sa trabaho at kapital para umangat ang estado at quality of life ng lahat ng Pilipino. Through the Poverty Reduction through Social Enterpreneurship or PRESENT Act of 2014, the existing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Council, which is attached to the Department
of Trade and Industry (DTI), shall be strengthened and expanded to become the National Enterprise Development Council or NEDC to effectively spur the growth and development not only of the MSMEs, but of social enterprises as well. A social enterprise or SE is a social missiondriven organization that conducts economic activities of providing goods and services directly related to its primary mission of improving the well being of the poor and marginalized sectors.


Ang pangunahing motibo ng mga Social Enterprise ay tulungan ang mga komunidad na masolusyunan ang kanilang deka-dekadang problema ng kahirapan gamit ang mga makabagong modelo sa pagnenegosyo.


The NEDC will develop and implement a comprehensive program that will progressively improve the lives and economic situation of the poor and the marginalized. It shall identify strategic economic subsectors with the potential for growth, considering areas where the poor are concentrated so they can play a major role in their own development. In the process, it shall identify key SEs and resource institutions as partners in providing transactional and transformational services geared towards poverty reduction. Social enterprises shall be developed as vehicles to ensure that the poor benefit the most from the sustainable subsector development. DTI shall establish a center where it will implement policies, plans and programs that promote social enterprise initiatives, and identify sources of financing for enterprise incubation, start-up and expansion. It shall provide capacity building and sustainability programs, supported by a Social Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF). It shall also provide research and development services for poverty reduction and assistance for the market expansion of social enterprises in both domestic and foreign markets. The bill encourages the creation of more social enterprises by promoting greater access to appropriate financing and insurance mechanisms, and providing greater participation in public procurement.

With this Act, we don’t just aim to support one or two social enterprises but develop a social enterprise sector engaged in poverty reduction.


Alam po ninyo, bago ako naging Senador, ako ay naging isang social entrepreneur. Sa programang Hapinoy, tinulungan namin ang mga nanay na may-ari ng mga sari-sari store na mapalaki ang kanilang negosyo. Ang lokohan nga nila ay hindi naman ito sari-sari store, kundi sara-sara store dahil sa mga balakid na naranasan nila sa pagnenegosyo. Sa pamamagitan ng dagdag na training at mentoring, wastong pagpapautang at market linkage, dahan-dahang lumago ang kanilang mga negosyo. Pagkatapos ng ilang taon, ang mga nanay na mismo ang siyang naging mga trainor namin sa aming mga programa. Sila mismo ang nagbahagi ng kanilang mga success stories para mainspire at matulungan ang ibang mga nanay. Hindi lang umunlad ang kanilang negosyo, nabigyan din sila ng kumpiyansa sa kanilang sarili. Noong nakaraang linggo lamang, bumisita kami sa San Jose, Nueva Ecija para makipagkuwentuhan sa Kalasag Farmers Producers Cooperative. Sila ang ating mga magsasaka ng sibuyas doon sa Central Luzon. Sa aming kuwentuhan, nabanggit nila na dati raw, pana-panahon
ang presyo ng kanilang sibuyas. Hindi pa sigurado kung may bibili ng kanilang ani. Kaya hirap na hirap silang i-angat ang kanilang kabuhayan pati na rin ang kalagayan ng kanilang pamilya. Nagbago ang kanilang buhay nang maugnay sila sa malaking kumpanya dito sa Maynila na nangangailangan ng malaking order ng sibuyas. Sa tulong ng isang NGO na nagsilbing social enterprise, inorganisa sila, tinuruan ng makabagong paraan ng pagsasaka, binigyan ng access sa kapital, at higit sa lahat, tinulungang ibenta ang kanilang mga produkto sa mas malaking merkado. Lumaki ang kanilang kita, nabigyan ng trabaho pati ang kanilang mga kapitbahay at nagkaroon ng marangal na buhay ang kanilang pamilya. Ngayon, napag-aaral na nila ang kanilang mga anak hanggang kolehiyo, napasemento na nila ang kanilang mga bahay at nakapaghuhulog pa sila para mabayaran ang isang tricycle para sa kanilang pamilya.

Nang magkokodakan na kami, naglabasan ang kanilang mga smart phone at tablet.


Ito po ang layunin ng PRESENT Act – na bumuo ng mas maraming organisasyong magpapatupad ng mga makabagong solusyon na tutugon sa kahirapan.

Let us empower our poor communities and restore their pride in themselves by helping them realize how integral they are in the inclusive growth goals of our country. Maraming salamat.



PARTNERSHIPS FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH Magandang araw, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan! Through my years working to build a thriving social enterprise, I’ve learned that an entrepreneur needs three Ms to best succeed – money, market, and mentorship. Without either one of these three elements, an entrepreneur is bound to fail. But with all three elements present,


The possibilities are endless and opportunities are limitless. An example of the three Ms at work is the case of the Kalasag Farmers in San Jose, Nueva Ecija, which are composed of farmers from Baranggays Kaliwanagan and San Agustin. The Kalasag farmers directly supply onions to Jollibee, the country’s biggest fast food chain. However, life was not always favorable for these farmers. There was a time when production was inconsistent and they had a difficult time selling their onions to markets.

They had to toil with blood, sweat, and tears just to have three decent meals a day.


Thankfully, in 2008, their lives changed for the better when they underwent training on financing, running a business and modern farming techniques. With a better sense of community and their newfound knowledge, about 60 farmers from Kaliwanagan and San Agustin established the Kalasag Farmers Producers Cooperative and, with the help of the local government, they were given the opportunity to sell their harvest directly to Jollibee. From 2008 to 2009, the Kalasag farmers sold 60,000 kilos of onions. Their output rose to 236,000 kilos in 2010 and 245,000 kilos the following year. Each farmer earned more than P76,000 in 2008, close to P100,000 in 2010, and over P119,000 in 2011. Today, these farmers have their own concrete homes, motorcycles, and tricycles. Some of them have even sent their children to college, a prospect not available to them in the past. It is this model that we are trying to replicate through the Go Negosyo Act, which was recently passed by Congress and just awaiting President Aquino’s approval.


We want to see more Filipinos coming together, learning new skills, and lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. We want to see more of our countrymen empowered by financing and training to grow their micro and small enterprises. And we want to see our Filipino entrepreneurs getting the support they need from our government, from national agencies to progressive local government units. Ensuring the success of our micro, small, and medium enterprises is the key to unlocking inclusive economic growth in the country. The Philippines enjoyed a surge of economic growth in the past three years. At the recent World Economic Forum (WEF)-East Asia Summit, held in Manila, the country was heralded as “the next Asian miracle� for its astounding GDP growth of 7.2% in 2013, second only to China in the entire region.


But when we talk about economic growth, we must also speak of walang iwanan and making sure that the benefits are distributed all the way down to the poor areas. For the country to truly progress, we must work towards inclusive growth. During President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address in 2013, he emphasized the need for inclusive growth, saying it is the principle that drives every initiative, every action, and every decision of our government. It is our priority, as members of government, to ensure that all Filipinos feel the effects of our stellar economic growth through the birth of more opportunities that allow our countrymen to sustain themselves and their families financially.

Noong tayo’y nangangampanya, hinayag natin na oportunidad
sa pagnenegosyo at oportunidad sa paghahanap ng trabaho ang dalawang epektibong paraan upang i-angat ang mga mahihirap na komunidad.


Ang Go Negosyo Act ay nakakatulong sa pagtayo at paglago ng mga negosyo at, samakatuwid, pagdami ng trabaho kung kaya’t ito’y konkretong panlaban sa kahirapan.

The Go Negosyo Act aims to develop and support our micro and small enterprises at the community level so they can enjoy a piece of the country’s current economic gains. Prior to the Go Negosyo Act, there were two policies that aimed to provide assistance to MSMEs - the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBE) Law and the Magna Carta for MSMEs. These laws were designed to give entrepreneurs access to easier
 and faster business processes and strong support systems such as training, mentorship, and financing. However, even years after their enactment, entrepreneurs have yet to enjoy the fruits of these laws.


In fact, ONLY 1% of all microenterprises have availed of the benefits of the BMBE Law since it was enacted in 2002. The Go Negosyo Act is designed to connect and complement these two existing laws to make it more effective in supporting entrepreneurs all over the country. Once signed into law by President Aquino, the Go Negosyo Act will deepen the Magna Carta for MSMEs by establishing Negosyo Centers, supervised by DTI, in various communities as a hub for MSME registration and development.


Through the Go Negosyo Centers, ease of doing business will improve through the establishment of a single business processing system for MSMEs, all under one roof. Most of the time, entrepreneurs and other businessmen complain about the slow and meticulous process in registering a business. With the Negosyo Centers in place, it will be easier for entrepreneurs to register their business, saving them time and resources. On top of improving the ease of doing business, the goal of the Go Negosyo Act is to be able to replicate the success of the Kalasag farmers in as many areas by providing access to the three Ms – money, market, and mentorship - in every municipality, town, city, and province.

Access to financing is one of the biggest hindrances for entrepreneurs -making access to the first M, money, a priority in the Negosyo Center. While Negosyo Centers do not finance businesses directly, Negosyo Centers help facilitate access to grants and other forms of financial assistance to help entrepreneurs jumpstart or expand their businesses. In a similar fashion, Negosyo Centers will also link businesses to potential markets within the community and in other parts of the country, giving them access to a variety of markets, our second M. Market plays the biggest role in terms of entrepreneurial development.


If you are able to really see what the market needs, then you will be able to craft your enterprise in a much better way, which will lead to a better success rate. Lastly, for the final M – mentorship – Negosyo Centers will offer training and are mandated to organize mentoring programs for prospective and current entrepreneurs to equip them with the proper knowledge on how to effectively run their business. It is not just our seasoned entrepreneurs that will benefit from the Go Negosyo Act, young Filipinos will also be encouraged to venture into business with youth entrepreneurship training programs supported by schools and organizations. This way, we will encourage young people to establish their own business rather than become ordinary employees in the future. These Negosyo Centers will enable local government units to boost MSME growth in their communities and provide jobs and livelihood for their constituents. Going back to the Kalasag Farmers, during my last visit to them, as we said our goodbyes, I was pleasantly surprised when they took out their smartphones for our picture-taking. For these farmers, a well-meaning program that supported their journey out of poverty forever changed their lives.


These lifechanging support systems are what we want to generate
in all parts of the country through the Negosyo Centers -and through the Go Negosyo Act. And with these systems in place across the Philippines, I am confident that we will be on our way to achieving our goal of inclusive growth.




Good afternoon, Mr. President, my distinguished colleagues, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan. It is my great privilege to stand before you today to support the development of the Philippine maritime transport industry, as I sponsor Senate Bill No. 2486, under Committee Report No. 91, entitled An Act Exempting Carriage of Container Vans from the Provision of Section 1009 of Presidential Decree No 1464, or otherwise known as the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978 and for other Purposes, otherwise known as Access of Foreign Ships to Domestic Ports Bill.

Given that the Philippines is an archipelago composed of more than 7,100 islands, the transport of goods relies heavily on sea routes interconnecting the islands. Shipping costs impact the movement of trade goods, and more importantly, the price that consumers will ultimately pay for. 40

Currently, inter-island shipping is exclusively reserved for ships bearing the Philippine flag. Internationally, this principle is known as the Cabotage Principle, which is implemented to protect the country’s local shipping industry. Unfortunately, this exclusive right incurs an extra cost for our importers of raw materials and for Philippine exporters of goods. Thus, we are pushing today for allowing foreign ships coming from international ports to dock into multiple ports all over the country. This reform will provide our producers and entrepreneurs the following benefits and these are: one, the lowering of production costs; two, the easing of doing business in the maritime transport industry; three, the decongestion of the Manila Port; and four, the further leveraging of our strategic location in the ASEAN market. Mr. President, the change that we are proposing today is part of a larger effort in reforming our shipping industry to be more modern, more equipped and more competitive with our ASEAN neighbors. The reforms also involve an establishment of a better regulatory framework that will ensure that foreign ships will only carry goods that are going in and out of the country.


LOWER PRODUCTION COSTS Firstly, the state think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) emphasizes the need for a comprehensive review and amendments to the Cabotage policy of the country to lower local shipping costs. Sa kasalukuyan, ang isang exporter mula Cagayan de Oro na nagpapadala ng kargamento papuntang Hong Kong ay kailangang magbayad ng dalawang beses: US$ 1,120.00 para sa biyahe ng kanyang kargamento mula CDO papuntang Maynila sa isang lokal na barko at US$ 144.00 pa para sa biyaheng Maynila papuntang Hong Kong sa isang dayuhang barko. Ang total shipping cost ng ating exporter sa kasulukuyang pamamaraan ay US$ 1,264.00. Kung ipapasa natin ang ating reporma ngayon, ang ating exporter ay magbabayad na lamang ng US$500.00 para sa isang dayuhang barkong didiretso mula CDO papuntang Hong Kong. Ang US$ 764.00 na matitipid ng isang exporter ay maaaring magamit upang mas mapaganda pa ang kanyang produkto, mas mapalaki pa ang kanyang kapital, at mas mapalago pa ang negosyo nang mas makapagbigay pa siya ng mas maraming trabaho sa kanyang komunidad. Ganoon din para sa ating mga importer ng raw materials. Ang ating importer mula CDO ay kailangang magbayad ng dalawang beses para sa kanyang kargamento: US$159.00 para sa biyahe ng kanyang kargamento mula Kaohsiung sa Taiwan papuntang Maynila sa isang dayuhang barko at US$ 1,120.00 para sa biyaheng Maynila papuntang CDO sa isang lokal na barko. Ang total shipping cost ng ating importer sa kasulukuyang pamamaraan ay US$ 1,279.00. Kung ipapasa natin ang ating reporma ngayon, ang ating importer ay magbabayad na lamang ng US$ 360.00 para sa isang dayuhang barkong didiretso mula Taiwan hanggang CDO. Ang US$ 919.00 na matitipid ng ating importer ay maaaring magamit upang makabili pa siya ng mas maraming raw materials o di kaya ay mapababa ang presyo ng kanyang binebentang mga produkto sa merkado. Ayon naman sa Joint United States Government and Government of the Philippines Technical Team, mas mahal ng dalawang daan at limampung porsiyento (250%) ang halaga ng lokal na shipping cost kumpara sa Indonesia kada nautical mile. Ang mga numerong ito ay hindi katanggap-tanggap dahil ang halaga ng shipping costs ay ikakarga lang ng mga negosyante sa kanilang gastusin, at sa huli ay papasanin din ng ating mga mamimili.


EASE OF DOING BUSINESS Secondly, Mr. President, although co-loading of goods is already allowed as a practice in the market, the processing of documents and getting clearance from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is necessary to allow foreign cargoes to co-load foreign containers in multiple ports. To avail of a special permit from MARINA, foreign shipping companies usually take 15 days or more for their papers to be processed. Hence, most foreign shipping agencies would rather avoid this particular step to be more efficient and productive. In practice, they choose to have a transshipment point rather than get a clearance from MARINA. For example, instead of dropping cargoes in Manila, securing the necessary approvals and documents, and then, carrying the same set of cargoes themselves to other local ports, foreign ships just choose to drop off their cargoes in Manila. Then, the cargoes are picked up by local ships to be transported to other domestic ports in the country.

With our proposal, we aim to streamline our processes, make our ports more efficient and more conducive for doing business. Thus, if there is a foreign cargo that is intended to be shipped to Manila and Cagayan de Oro, the foreign ship that carries the said cargo, with our reform, will be allowed to go directly to Manila, then CDO instead of the present procedure of unloading in Manila first, then transhipping its goods to a local carrier to CDO. In the same way, our entrepreneurs who are exporting goods from Subic, Cebu, CDO and Davao, would be able to co-load in one ship before heading out of the country directly in a more efficient and costeffective manner, instead of, again, having to pass by Manila.

The bill encourages for our micro, small and medium entrepreneurs to think globally since importing raw materials and exporting Filipino goods would be cheaper.


Thirdly, we learned from our recent investigations and hearings that the Manila International Container Terminals (MICT) and the Manila South Harbor, the main hubs for transshipments in the country, have been experiencing congestion in the past few months. Almost all of the goods in the country are shipped to MICT and to the Manila South Harbor. Last December, these ports operated at an average level of 75-85%, which is more than the ideal 60% serviceable level.

By allowing foreign ships to go directly to other domestic ports around the country, it will free up space in the container yards in the Greater Manila Area.

This will save time, costs and energy for our exporters and in sending their raw materials, and goods and products in and out of the country.

In addition, by allowing more foreign ships to dock on other ports all over the country, there will be increased economic activity in the countryside. This will lead to growth for businesses and entrepreneurs in the regions, and more jobs for our Filipino people. It will then bring us a step closer to achieving our dream of inclusive growth for our countrymen.


LEVERAGING ON THE COUNTRY’S STRATEGIC LOCATION And lastly, Mr. President, we need these reforms as part of a larger effort to further capitalize our strategic location in the ASEAN market. South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs published a report entitled Formulating an ASEAN Single Shipping Market Implementing Strategy, which mentions the Philippines’ low investment in ports and road infrastructure, which hampers the promotion of intermodal transport. The study concludes that our country’s strong cabotage policy, that only allows foreign-flag vessels to call at one Philippine port, hinders our economic development. The report stresses that foreign ships docking on various ports all over the country is needed for the country to achieve sustainable growth and, more importantly, to achieve a single ASEAN market. In line with the ASEAN Economic Integration this year, the region will be implementing a single shipping market where member countries are expected to deliver quality service at a competitive price. Mr. President, kapag ito’y tuluyang naipatupad, mahalaga na magkaroon ng sapat at maayos na imprastruktura at mga pasilidad sa pantalan, magagandang kalsada para sa mas mabilis na paghahatid ng produkto, at higit sa lahat, mababang presyo ng pagpapadala ng mga kargamento. Kailangan nating makapagpatayo ng mga pantalan na kayang makipagsabayan sa mga pantalan ng Singapore, Thailand at Indonesia – mga modernong pantalan na systematic at computerized, na kayang mapabilis ang mga pagpoproseso ng mga dokumento at galaw ng mga kargamento. Kasama ng repormang ito ang ating pagkilos para hindi na maulit ang pagsisikip ng ating mga pantalan. Sinimulan na ang NLEX-SLEX connector road upang lalong maibsan ang traffic sa Kamaynilaan at mapabilis ang galaw ng mga kargamento papuntang hilaga o timog Luzon.


Ang pagpapatuloy ng mga repormang ito ang mga hamon na ating kakaharapin sa mga susunod na buwan. Napakahalaga na maabot natin ang mga ito upang makasabay tayo sa mga kapitbahay nating bansa na may mas moderno at mas maayos na sistema sa kanilang mga pantalan. It will be a win-win situation for both our importers and exporters. Dadami at mas magmumura ang pagpasok ng raw materials mula sa ibang bansa na mapoproseso ng ating mga kumpanya rito. Mas magiging mura ang halaga ng pag-export ng ating mga produkto sa merkado ng mundo.

Sa mas efficient na maritime transport industry, patuloy na tataas ang kalidad ng produkto at serbisyo, patuloy na bababa ang presyo, at ang taumbayan ang siyang panalo.

As we continue to develop from a low-income to a middle-income economy, we need to revisit our policy environment to be able to support this growth that we are experiencing as a country. This is our first response to the call of the President and various stakeholders to enhance the Philippine maritime transport industry. This is our first step in our effort to further unlock the industry, let it grow and thrive, and make it as efficient as possible as we anticipate more trade, more economic activity, and real inclusive growth for the Filipino people. Nang dumating ang mga unang Malay sa ating mga baybayin mula Borneo, nakasakay sila sa mga sinaunang bangka na ang tawag ay balangay. Sa balangay natin hinango ang barangay, na siya nating kinikilala bilang ang ating pormal na komunidad. Dala-dala ang mga produktong kopra, mais, at iba pa, sinulong natin ang karagatan para maabot ang iba’t ibang isla. Sa karagatan natin nabuo ang ating mga komunidad. Sa paglalayag natin nabuo ang ating bansa.


At sa reporma na tinutulak natin ngayon, maisasakay natin ang ating mga pamilya, mga komunidad at ang ating buong lipunan sa mga bangkang patungo sa magandang kinabukasan.


Mga kaibigan, bumibiyahe na tayo ngayon tungo sa kaunlaran. Iniimbitahan ko kayong lahat na patuloy tayong magtulungan, samasamang magsagwan upang mabigyang pagkakataon ang mga negosyo ng ating mga kababayan na lumago at makipagsabayan sa mundo. Dahil ito po ang tamang panahon sa pag-ahon natin bilang isang bansa at marating natin ang baybayin ng kasaganaan para sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino. Maraming salamat po at magandang hapon sa ating lahat!





Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon. It is my honor and privilege to stand before you today to sponsor Senate Bill No. 2282 under Committee Report No. 56 otherwise known as the Fair Competition Act of 2014. In a country where 99% of the economy and 66% of all jobs in the labor force are powered by micro, small, and medium enterprises, it is our duty to create an environment where local businesses of all types will thrive.

A fair competition policy will level the playing field for Filipino businesses and allow more Filipinos to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit. It will encourage competition, innovation, and the creation of better products and services. It will drive production efficiencies and better supply chain management; and, ultimately, give the Filipino public a wider range of products and services to choose from while driving down prices. A fair competition policy, in tandem with our recently enacted Go Negosyo Act, will open the gates for more Filipinos to make a living out of their own businesses, generate employment, strengthen more Filipinos’ purchasing power, and help drive inclusive growth. We also see that an effective fair competition policy would lead to economic development not only in our urban centers but also in our struggling agricultural and fisheries sectors, which are the sources of livelihood for millions of our countrymen in the rural areas.


And in light of an increasingly connected global economy and the integration of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, a fair competition policy will also promote standards of quality and excellence among our local businesses, promote a sustained increase in production, and advance domestic and international trade.

With fair competition, everyone—businesses and the consuming public alike—wins. We, therefore, submit to this august chamber the Fair Competition Act of 2014, which will pave the way for the establishment of a Competition Commission that will: • Promote and enhance efficiency and competition;


• Ensure that industrial concentration would not limit economic power to a few; • And prohibit anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominant positions that distort, manipulate, or constrict the operations of markets in the Philippines.


• The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on International Investment, in a paper published as far back as 2008 entitled, “Competition Policy Enforcement: Experiences from Developing Countries and Implications for Investment”, illustrated the effects of an effective competition regime as such: • An effective competition policy will eliminate barriers to entry and exit of new business entities, • While a strong competition law will curb anti-competitive practices. • Both will lead to increased competition in the market, and, therefore, to greater investment.

For the Philippines, which still lags behind in the region in terms of foreign direct investments (FDI), more investments coming in will mean greater production in the market that will lead to lower prices and higher quality of goods and services for the Filipino consumers. Unfortunately, Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, the Philippines still does not have a competition policy and law that will protect its consumers and private industries. For our information, the US had its first competition policy with its US Sherman Act in 1890. Australia followed suit with its Australian Industries Preservation Act in 1906. Then, after World War II, Japan passed its Original Antimonopoly Law in 1947 and the United Kingdom passed its Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act in 1948. Moreover, in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, each member country is called upon to introduce a competition policy by 2015. Our neighbors have passed their competition laws already: Indonesia and Thailand in 1999, Singapore in 2004, Vitenam in 2005, and Malaysia in 2012. It is imperative that we catch up if we seek to be a contender in an increasingly integrated and global economy.


Panahon na po talaga na maipasa natin ang napakahalagang panukalang ito. Ang pagkakaroon po ng Fair Competition Act ay para sa ikabubuti ng mga negosyo sa Pilipinas—maliit man o malaki—at para rin sa kapakanan ng mga mamimiling Pilipino. Mr. President, noong ako po’y estudyante pa lamang noong 1990s, unang naibenta ang pampersonal na cellphone sa merkado. Naaalala ko pa, ang unang type ng cellphone noon ay medyo malaki, analog ang operating system, at may kamahalan pa. Hindi pa colored ang mga screen noon, at lalong hindi ka pa makakakuha ng litrato o video. 53

Pagkatapos ng ilang taon, pumasok sa merkado ang iba’t ibang uri ng cellphone - at ang mga ito’y may iba’t-ibang kulay at hugis, at may makabagong teknolohiyang nagbigay ng pagkakataong gamitin ang cellphone ‘di lamang para pang-text at pantawag, kundi para na rin sa mga video calls, para sa gaming, para sa negosyo, pangInternet sa eskuwelahan, at, siyempre, pati na rin para sa social media at sa pagkuha ng mga nauusong selfie.

na smartphone na kayang makipagsabayan sa mga features ng mga imported brands. Ang ganitong pag-usad ng merkado ang ating ninanais hindi lang sa larangan ng mga cellphones, kundi pati na rin sa ibang mga industriya, para mas maraming mga Pilipino ang makinabang sa mas magagandang mga produkto’t serbisyo, mas murang mga bilihin, at—higit sa lahat—mas maraming mga trabaho dulot ng mas maraming mga investments at bagong kumpanya dito sa bansa.

Sa pagdami ng mga kumpanyang nagtitinda ng cellphone sa bansa, nagkaroon ng mas maraming mapagpipilian ang mga mamimili, tumaas ang kalidad ng mga cellphone, at nagkaroon ng mga murang produkto na mabibili ng mas nakararaming Pilipino.

Noong 1997, mahigit sa sampung libong piso ang isang Nokia 5110, na text at call lang ang puwedeng gawin sa analog nitong system, at ang puwedeng laruin lang ay snake. Ngunit ngayon, ang sampung libong piso, makakabili na ng isang Nokia Lumia, na isang smartphone, na hindi text at call lang ang puwedeng gawin, kundi makapaglaro ng mas maraming games, makapag-Internet, makanood ng videos, makatugtog ng music at makapagselfie.

Ngayon po, ang mga cellphone ay abotkaya na pati para sa ating mga aling tindera, mamang drayber— at maski mga estudyante sa mga pampublikong paaralan. Kahit sino ngayon—basta ba’t magtipid ka lang at mag-ipon nang kaunti—ay kaya nang bumili ng cellphone pati ‘yung mas advanced na smartphone. Pati ang ilang mga lokal na kumpanya ay gumagawa na rin ng mga mahuhusay

Noong 1997, iilan lang ang makabibili ng Nokia 5110 dahil sa kamahalan nito. Ngayon, sa halagang isang libo lang o mas mababa pa may mabibili ng cellphone na Cherry Mobile o MyPhone.


Ibig sabihin, dahil sa innovation at teknolohiyang dulot ng kumpetisyon, ang mga kumpanya ng cellphone ay nakalikha ng mga produkto para sa mas malaking merkado, para sa mas magandang serbisyo at para sa mas mababang presyo. Mr. President, noong 1980s, napakamahal pong lumipad pauwi ng Davao para bisitahin ko ang aking mga kamag-anak doon. Marahil, kakaunti lang din ang available flights sa buong bansa kaya madalang ang aming pag-uwi. Sa isang kapuluang bansa, mahalaga ang transportasyong panghimpapawid hindi lang para sa pagpapatibay ng relasyon ng magkakapamilya, kundi para rin sa mas mabilis na transportasyon ng mga produkto at serbisyo, at sa patuloy na pagpapa-unlad ng bansa. Noong nagkaroon ng ibang players sa airline industry, dumami ang flights sa buong bansa. Naintroduce ang promo fares at nagbagsakan ang presyo ng airfare. Ngayon, mas marami na ang mapagpipiliang flights sa kung saanman sa bansa, sa mas mababang presyo.


Dahil sa kumpetisyon, mas naging innovative at creative ang ating mga airline carriers. Napalawak ang merkado, napababa ang presyo, napataas ang kalidad ng serbisyo — para sa mga Pilipino.

Kung itataguyod po natin ang kapakanan ng mga negosyo—maliit man o malaki— sa pamamagitan ng Fair Competition Act, mabibigyan natin sila ng pagkakataong gamitin ang kanilang likas na pagiging malikhain at madiskarte sa paggawa ng mga bagong produkto, serbisyo, at inobasyon na papatok sa merkado.

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LAHAT TAYO, PANALO. Mr. President, we believe that a Fair Competition Act is all at once pro-poor, pro-people, and probusiness. It safeguards the welfare of businesses, large and small, and protects honest, hard-working entrepreneurs against abuse of dominance and position, and other unfair practices that put both Filipino businesses and their consumers at risk.


The Fair Competition Act, moreover, promotes a culture of healthy competition that inspires ingenuity, creativity, and innovation in addressing market needs. We recognize that we will definitely need more than just the Fair Competition Act to enable such a culture to take root, but we believe that

this is the first necessary step. Dalawang dekada na po nating tinatangkang maipasa ang panukalang ito.

Ngayong patuloy na umaarangkada ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas, lalagyan pa ba natin ng balakid ang tunay na pag-unlad dahil hindi natin maitaguyod ang kapakanan ng ating mga negosyo’t mamamayan?


This puts us, our Philippine industries—especially our MSMEs and our people— at a grave disadvantage in light of the integration of the ASEAN Economic Community next year. As the Philippines works to level up from four years of sustained economic growth, fiscal reforms and good governance, and heightened investor confidence, it is now time to work on strengthening our local industries, promoting a culture of competition and innovation, and boosting our potentials for serving the global market with outstanding products and services.

We have said repeatedly that our key challenge in this half of the Aquino administration is achieving inclusive growth and making true progress felt by each and every Filipino. Nabanggit din ng Pangulo ang pagkakaroon ng fair competition sa ating bansa. Ika nga niya sa kanyang State of the Nation noong isang araw, I quote:


“Pinapanday na natin ang sistema kung saan talagang patas ang laban; kung saan ang sumusunod sa patakaran ay nakakarating sa nais niyang paroonan; kung saan may tunay na kumpetisyong nagbubukal ng pagkakataon at malawakang kaunlaran; kung saan ang lahat ay may kakayahang panghawakan ang sariling kapalaran...” In light of next year’s ASEAN Economic Community integration, in light of the entry of more global brands and businesses onto our shores, and in light of our thrust to make the country more globally competitive and make doing business “more fun in the Philippines”, this representation deems it urgent that a Fair Competition Act be passed in order to give our people the support that they need to succeed.

Sa tulong ninyong lahat, mabibigyan natin ng pantay na pagkakataon ang mga negosyong Pilipino na lumago at makipagsabayan sa buong mundo. Dahil po sa isang bansang umuunlad, nararapat na tayong lahat, walang maiiwan at sama-samang umaangat. Maraming salamat po at magandang hapon.





Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, mga kaibigan at sa ating mga kababayan, magandang hapon. I rise today on a matter of personal and collective privilege, with an inspired spirit and renewed energy, to build a better Philippines hand-in-hand with every Filipino. It has been one week since His Holiness Pope Francis left our humbled shores after spending five blessed days in our country. During this time, Pope Francis captivated the nation and inspired the people with his charming smile and gestures of gratitude, humility and empathy. People are clearly inspired. Mr. President, thousands of Filipinos lined his path, with some going to great lengths and enormous sacrifices just to simply catch a glimpse of the Holy Father. Libu-libong mga pamilyang Pilipino ang naghintay nang ilang oras upang makilahok sa mga events ni Pope Francis. Kabilang na riyan si Mang Antolin Adlawan. Sa kabila ng kanyang edad na animnapu’t anim na taon ay naglakad siya ng tatlumpu’t anim na araw patungong Tacloban para lang makadalo sa misa ng Santo Papa. Sa kanyang misa sa Luneta, anim na milyong Pilipino ang dumalo sa gitna nang malakas na ulan, sama-samang nakinig sa mensahe ng Santo Papa at nagdasal para sa ating mga pamilya at buong bayan.


Undeniably, Pope Francis has given many of us the precious gift of inspiration, through his words and his being. The challenge for us now is to turn Pope Francis’ messages into action and make his calls into reality that will benefit our countrymen, especially the poor and marginalized. Mr. President, I’d like to highlight three themes from his life and advocacy that we can emulate and translate in our own lives and to our own work as well – and these are a life of simplicity, a heart of inclusiveness, and a renewed vigor to ensure the dignity of the poor.


A LIFE OF SIMPLICITY Kilala si Jorge Mario Bergoglio sa kanyang simpleng pamumuhay, kahit noong siya pa ay ang Arsobispo ng Buenos Aires sa Argentina. Sumasakay lamang siya ng bus at di gumagamit ng mamahaling sasakyan sa pangaraw-araw. Nakatira siya sa isang maliit na apartment na puwede namang mas magarbo ang kanyang tahanan dahil isa siyang arsobispo. Nang mahirang bilang Santo Papa, pinili niya ang pangalang Francis bilang pagbibigay pugay kay St. Francis of Assisi, na santo ng mahihirap at nangangailangan. When Pope Francis addressed the Roman Curia last December, he talked about a “disease of hoarding,” and even said: “Accumulating goods only burdens and inexorably slows down the journey!” His call for a simple and plain lifestyle is indeed an example for all of us and a call to look at our own lives and appreciate the things and the blessings that we have had. The challenge for us, public servants and leaders, is to “uphold the public interest over and above personal interest,” and to “lead modest lives appropriate to their positions… not [to] indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form.” A number of our leaders have had efforts to heed the same call. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has pushed for the “Anti-Epal Bill,” where “appending the names of officials on public works projects either funded or faciliated through their office is unnecessary and highly unethical.” President Aquino’s administration has empahsized on eradicating the wang-wang culture, “the image of blaring, much-abused sirens, to symbolize all things corrupt and crooked in Philippine politics.” In his second SONA, he asked us, “Do you want the corrupt held accountable… Do you want to see the end of wang-wang, both on the streets and in the sense of entitlement that has led to the abuse that we have lived with for so long… Do you want to give everyone a fair chance to improve their lot in life?”


It is not simplicity for simplicity’s sake. Rather, it is a challenge for our leaders not to be too separate from those that they serve. It is a constant reminder for empathy – to feel what most feel, to experience what most Filipinos experience everyday.


A HEART OF INCLUSIVENESS Secondly, the Pope calls for us to be inclusive and, as he instructed cardinals last year, “to fight any discrimination.” Mr. President, during Maundy Thursday of last year, Pope Francis broke tradition when he washed and kissed the feet of 12 persons with disability for the Washing of the Feet ritual. Several of them were women and another man, was a Muslim.

Pope Francis reminds us that we live in a world that is as diverse as it is magnificent; and that though Filipinos have differing beliefs and varying perspectives, we are united by our dream to build this country. At sabi pa niya sa kanyang pagbisita sa mga Pilipinong kabataan, “women have much to tell us in today’s society.” Sa mata ng Santo Papa, maging ano pa ang iyong kasarian, relihiyon at estado sa buhay, dapat pantay ang pagtrato at may boses sa lipunan ang lahat. Our colonial past and rich history, where our Malay roots have been mixed with Chinese, Spanish, American, and even Indian and Mediterranean descent, have made our culture into a melting pot of diverse ways, values and norms. Add the fact that a tenth of Pinoys are living and working abroad, we, Filipinos, are a truly cosmopolitan, genuinely accepting and accommodating people.

Thus, we call on all Filipinos today to go back to who we are, and further create a kinder and gentler nation – a more forgiving and compassionate people that care for each and every Filipino. We call on our colleagues to pass the Basic Bangsamoro Law and prove to the world that we are one as a people, regardless of our religions, conflicts and misunderstandings, and that we provide every opportunity for growth even to the regions and the countryside. We also ask for support in the codification of our efforts through the passage of the Anti-Discrimination bill, to prohibit discrimination of Filipinos based on ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex and gender, sexual orientation, civil status, age, medical condition or any other status.


A RENEWED VIGOR TO ENSURE THE DIGNITY OF THE POOR Lastly, Mr. President, the Holy Father emphasized his call to be at the forefront of eradicating poverty, to be at the peripheries, to be at the margins of development. He has challenged us to reexamine our Christian faith and lifestyle. Even before he was Pope, he pushed for jobs and enterprises with his work in the slums of Argentina. It was a far cry from the beauty and glam of Buenos Aires as we know it, “with its leafy avenues, sultry tango and Francophile architecture, the city’s slums, [called] villas miserias [or villas of misery], are so savage that even ambulances and police have refused to enter.” Their parishioners were “unemployed and hungry, relying on church soup kitchens… teenage pregnancy [was] rampant,” and drug users and criminals lived in the villas. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, Padre Bergoglio then worked to revive and invigorate the Catholic movement in the villas. From ten priests, he doubled the number of priests in the area. His parishes started programs to rehabilitate and uplift the poor of Buenos Aires. They built a recovery center for drug addicts, a high school and a technical vocational school, farms where addicts worked and lived, a home for the elderly and children, and a community radio and newspaper to give the people in the margins a voice. One of the Jesuit charisms is “to go where there is the greatest need ” – to be at the frontiers of development, to be with the most vulnerable and suffering. This is the call that we must heed – helping our countrymen means going beyond the common understanding of charity. It is restoring the dignity of the poor and providing the opportunity of earning for themselves and their families. Mr. President, in solidarity with the Pope’s call to build a Church of the poor and for the poor, we must ensure that the Philippine government is a government completely and utterly focused on fighting poverty and providing opportunities for our countrymen.


We need to ensure that as we establish the K-12 system in our basic education, our young Filipinos will have the right knowledge, skills and attitudes that will make them competitive in the job market not only in the country, but in the ASEAN region and in the world as well. Or there will be an alternative for these young graduates to be entrepreneurs and start their own livelihood and business endeavors. It is our fervent hope that our Conditional Cash Transfer families be able to graduate from just being beneficiaries, and that the Sustainable Livelihood Program is realized as their bridge out of poverty. Let us help in organizing our farmers and fisherfolk, provide the right technical assistance and access to capital, link them to proper markets, so that their produce will be of quality and of standards, and that they may be able to break the cycle of poverty. In addition, we must also be able to support institutions that help our poor communities as well – microfinance organizations, cooperatives, the social enterprise movement and inclusive business programs of the private sector. Our dream is to spur micro, small and medium enterprises all over the country, especially in the rural areas, for our people to be able to stand on their own feet, provide food on the table, send their children to school, and build homes for their families.

The Pope’s visit to the Philippines can remain a record-breaking event, a fond memory we cast to history, or we can turn it into something even more substantial.


PH OTO C R E D I T : t ha nhni en news .co m

All of us, together, have the power to make this year’s Papal Visit a major turning point for our country. As we bid farewell to our cherished Pope Francis, let us reflect on how each of us can personally contribute to improving the lives of our fellow Filipinos.

Each of us has a role to play. Each of us has the opportunity to make a difference. Each of us can be an agent of change.


Now, we have been blessed with both the instruction and the inspiration to do so. Concrete action and palpable change are the greatest gifts we, as Asia’s Catholic heartland, can give Pope Francis. Let’s make him proud. Bigyan natin siya ng panibagong dahilan upang bumalik ng Pilipinas! Maraming salamat at magandang hapon sa ating lahat!




Good afternoon, Mr. President, my distinguished colleagues, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan. It is with great privilege that I address you today to support the development and inclusive growth of the poor and marginalized as I sponsor Senate Bill No. 2752, under Committee Report No. 130, entitled An Act Strengthening NonGovernment Organizations Engaged in Microfinance Activities, or otherwise known as the Microfinance NGOs Act.

The Philippine economy has grown immensely in the past years. We saw that in the last quarter of 2014, our economy grew at 6.9%, contributing to our annual gross domestic product growth rate at 6.1%. This figure is still one of the highest growth rates in the region. We are cited as the second fastest growing economy in Asia, second only to China. We are the fastest growing economy in the ASEAN. And we expect to sustain this momentum in the next few years. Moreover, we have been earning improved investment grade ratings from Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor. When a decade ago, we were called the “Sick Man of Asia,” now we are among Asia’s “Rising Stars”.


Ngunit sa gitna ng pag-unlad ng ating bansa, marami pa rin sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi nakararanas nito at ‘di nakakatikim ng ginhawang dulot nito. In the latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority, our poverty incidence for the first quarter of 2014 is 25.8%. Ibig sabihin nito, Mr. President, mayroon pa rin tayong 25 milyong kababayan ang maituturing na mahirap. Habang tuluy-tuloy ang pagangat ng Pilipinas, ang hamon sa ating lahat ay siguraduhing nakikinabang ang lahat ng sektor ng bayan. Hand in hand with civil society and the private sector, we need to support and strengthen programs and efforts, private organizations and institutions that aid the poor in their journey to prosperity. Apart from helping the poor directly through government programs, we also have the opportunity to bolster an entire sector willing to take part in advancing inclusive growth.


The Microfinance NGOs Act aims to recognize the microfinance NGO sector, and the crucial role it plays in our struggle to alleviate our fellow Filipinos from poverty and enable the poor to build their own businesses and create their own sustainable livelihood. Mr. President, time and time again, we have emphasized the important role of the micro, small, and medium enterprises or MSMEs, in our nation’s endeavor to foster inclusive growth. MSMEs compose 99.6% of total establishments in the Philippines and they have contributed 61.2% of the country’s total employment. Out of this substantial piece of the pie, 91.6% are micro-enterprises. These micro businesses are composed of sari-sari stores, handicraft makers, service shops, and other modest businesses that serve as the main source of livelihood for many Filipinos.

Micro-entrepreneurs also include local artisans, market vendors, and farmer entrepreneurs who transform local materials with products and services at greater value for their communities. Ang maliliit na negosyong ito ay maaaring lumawak at maglaan ng mas mabuting kinabukasan para sa mga pamilyang Pilipino, basta’t bigyan lamang natin sila ng tamang suporta.

Stories of Grit Mr. President, bilang dating social entrepreneur at ngayon ay Chairman ng Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, marami-rami na tayong narinig na kuwento ng ating mga kababayang nais magnegosyo. Sa ating patuloy na pakikinig at pakikipag-usap sa kanila, ang paulit-ulit na tanong sa atin ay, “Senator Bam, saan po kami makakahanap ng kapital para makapagpatayo ng maliit na tindahan? Saan po puwedeng humiram na mababa lamang ang interes para mapalago ko ang aking negosyo?� Napakahalaga na mabigyan natin ng suporta ang ating mga negosyante, lalo na sa kapital, para mapalago nila ang kanilang mga negosyo at ang kanilang estado sa buhay. Mr. President, nais kong ibahagi sa inyo ang dalawang kuwento ng ating mga kababayan na dahil sa tulong ng mga microfinance NGOs, ang kanilang mga pangkabuhayan ay lumago at umasenso.

Aling Ester and Pandan Bags Lumaki sa paghahabi ng mga banig na pandan sina Aling Ester Lumbo at ang kanyang asawa na si Mang Bartolome sa Negros Occidental. Sila ang unang nagbenta ng mga hinabing pandan bags sa merkado. Ngunit nang kinailangan ng surgery ang kanilang ikatlong anak sa Maynila, napilitan silang iwan ang kanilang negosyo upang tiyaking bumuti ang kalagayan ng kanilang anak.


Nang pagbalik nila sa kanilang bayan, naubos ang kanilang pangkabuhayan at nabaon sila sa utang. Buti na lang at natagpuan nila ang Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), na isang microfinance NGO, na siyang tumulong sa kanilang makabalik sa pagnenegosyo. Ngayon, sila’y nakakabenta na ng 150,000 na produktong gawa sa Pandan kada-buwan. Nakapagpatayo na rin sila ng bagong bakery. Higit sa lahat, nasustentuhan nila ang kanilang pamilya at nakapagtapos na ng kolehiyo ang kanilang tatlong anak.

Ate Consuelo and Sabutan Handicrafts Ang pangalawang kuwento ay tungkol sa pangangailangan ni Consuelo Valenzuela na kumita para sa kanyang pamilya. Siya ay panlabing-isa sa labinlimang magkakapatid, kung saan ang tatay niya ay isang karpintero at naiwan sa bahay para magalaga ng mga anak ang kanyang nanay sa Baler, Aurora. Ninais niyang tulungan ang kanyang pamilya nang makatapos siya kaya bukod sa trabaho niya sa munisipyo, nag-isip siya ng iba-ibang mga produkto. Nakahiram siya ng P5,000 mula sa Alalay sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI), isang microfinance NGO, na nagturo sa kaniya ng marketing at sales. Dinala nila ang kanyang mga produkto sa mga provincial at regional trade fairs. Para kumita, binenta niya nang wholesale ang kanyang mga produkto sa labas ng kanilang probinsya. Sa ganda ng kanyang mga produkto, nakakakuha na siya ng mga order mula sa California sa Estados Unidos. Napag-aaral na niya ang kanyang mga pamangkin at nasusustentuhan ang pangangailangan ng kanyang pamilya. There are many more Aling Esters and Ate Consuelos out there – stories of grit, challenges and struggles from poverty to determination and triumphs of growth through small-scale businesses and community livelihood projects. These would not have been possible without microfinancing and particularly, microfinance NGOs.


Pangarap ng maraming Pilipino ang magpatayo ng maliit na negosyo at maging lunas ito sa kanilang kahirapan. Ang tulong na handog ng mga microfinance NGO ang nagiging simula ng landas tungo sa kaunlaran.

Microfinance and the Access to Loans Mr. President, microfinance is defined by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as, “…the provision of a broad range of financial services such as – deposits, loans, payment services, money transfers and insurance products – to the poor and low-income households, for their microenterprises and small businesses, to enable them to raise their income levels and improve their living standards.” Para sa nakararami nating kababayang may maliit na negosyo, napakahalaga ng tulong ng microfinance imbis na lumapit sila sa mga nag-fifive-six. Sa sistemang 5-6, sa bawat limang pisong inutang mo, ang kailangang ibalik ay anim na piso bawa’t araw. In other words, you pay an additional 1 peso per day for every 5 peso loan, which is a monthly rate of 600%! Mr. President, this is where microfinance can fill in the gap and address the needs of our small businesses, specifically, our micro-entrepreneurs.


Microfinance Institutions and Microfinance NGOs Mr. President, there is also a need to distinguish microfinance NGOs from other microfinance institutions. In the Philippines, microfinancing services are provided by cooperatives, rural and thrift banks, and non-government organizations or NGOs.

It is important to note that the Microfinance NGOs Act covers only microfinance non-government organizations, and does not cover for-profit microfinance institutions. 77

Microfinance NGOs are non-stock, non-profit entities that share in the State’s goal of inclusive growth and sustainable poverty alleviation. As notfor-profit institutions, the main purpose of a microfinance NGO is to empower the marginalized sector and give them the means to move themselves out of poverty and into financial sustainability. Microfinance NGOs offer a variety of loans to low-income households with an average nominal interest rate of 2 to 2.5% and a usual loan cycle of six months. Loans offered are not limited to business or livelihood loans. Types of loans can range from housing and educational to medical and even energy related.

In 2013, the 23 microfinance NGO members of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI) alone had a gross loan portfolio of over 15.26 billion pesos. This catered to more than 2.7 million microentrepreneurs. But their services go beyond microfinancing. The earnings of these Microfinance NGOs are either 1) used for the sustainability of the organization, 2) reinvested to expand the services for more to benefit from the loans, or 3) used to fund other programs towards uplifting the poor, such as research, financial literacy training, capacity building trainings, marketing activities, or other micro- business development services. Mr. President, more than just reasonable financing programs, microfinance NGOs also provide training programs and seminars to enhance the entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy of their borrowers. With our push for the passage of the Microfinance NGO Act today, we will recognize these institutions, which help deliver government services to the poor.

Microfinance NGOs as Partners in Development The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has forged partnerships with microfinance NGOs Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Incorporated (ASKI), the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Microfinance (RAFI Microfinance) through its Sustainable Livelihood Program to enhance the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Kinikilala rin ng Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) ang kahalagahan ng mga microfinance NGOs. Kasama ng DAR ang Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Inc. (CARD) upang isagawa ang kanilang microfinancing strategy para makatulong sa mga agrarian reform beneficiaries. Nagsanib-puwersa rin ang Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Coca-Cola Philippines, mga local government units (LGUs), ang ASKI, at Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) sa programang, “Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.�


The Link to Negosyo Centers Since we passed the Go Negosyo Law and began building our Negosyo Centers around the country, we have found that the public are most excited about the center’s ability to connect and refer entrepreneurs to legitimate financial institutions willing and able to cater to their needs. Microfinance NGOs can work hand in hand with the Negosyo Centers around the country to expand their reach and help even more Filipinos improve their standard of living through improved access to loans, business networks, and effective training programs. The Microfinance NGOs Act will help microfinance NGOs become more effective sources of support for the poor and it will encourage more institutions to help in the promotion of the development of micro businesses all over the country.


In the end, the goal of this measure is to ensure more Filipinos will be able to write their own stories of success and development. Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, I urge you to join us in our continued push to empower our Filipino people with the skills and financial means to lift themselves out of poverty and achieve their own financial security. Let us support the microfinance NGOs that help make our dream – of prosperity for all – a reality. Maraming salamat po, at magandang hapon sa ating lahat!






Good afternoon, Mr. President and my distinguished colleagues. Mga kaibigan, mga kababayan, magandang hapon sa ating lahat! I am honored to address you today to, once again, seek for much-needed and well-deserved legislative support for the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs of the Philippines as I sponsor Senate Bill No. 2909, under Committee Report No. 203, entitled An Act Providing for the Creation and Organization of Credit Surety Fund Cooperatives to Manage and Administer Credit Surety Funds to Enhance the Accessibility of Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs, Cooperatives and Non-Government Organizations to the Credit Facility of Banks otherwise known as the Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act of 2015.


Mr. President, let me begin this speech with some visualization exercises. Together, let’s imagine around 700,000 micro enterprises in our country – our sari-sari store nanays, our carenderia owners, craftsmen, fisherfolk and farmers in the countryside. Imagine they are given the right support to graduate to becoming small enterprises where they will be able to hire up to 99 employees. Your sari-sari store nanays now own mini-groceries; carenderias grow into restaurants; craftsmen sell directly to clients by bulk; and the fisherfolk and farmers now directly supply institutional clients regularly. Now, let’s imagine these small enterprises are given the opportunity to grow into medium enterprises, where they will be able to hire up to 199 employees – the mini-grocery in Caloocan establishes more branches; the small restaurant in Iloilo opens up for franchising; and the craftsmen in Laguna, fisherfolk in Samar, and farmers in Nueva Ecija enhance production and export their products. Imagine how many jobs will be created for the close to 9 million jobless Filipino adults. Isn’t that a wonderful picture of prosperity in our beloved country? For all of us working to enrich the Philippines and uplift the lives of our countrymen, this vision is a dream – a dream and a purpose shared by my uncle, former Senator Butz Aquino who passed away two days ago. Until his last days, he worked tirelessly in the cooperative sector trying to help these organizations enhance their services, upgrade their products, and provide more credit to uplift the lives of struggling Filipinos. Today, Mr. President and esteemed colleagues, I dedicate this bill to the memory of Tito Butz and his family, who is behind us, and, of course, to the good work of various groups and cooperatives in the country.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have the opportunity to take the next step in our quest to embolden our countrymen with resources and opportunities through the Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act. 83

? THE MISSING MIDDLE These days, our competitive banking sector assists mediumscale enterprises by issuing them loans that help grow into large-scale operations, even allowing them to become exporters and beyond. On the other hand, microfinance institutions cater to our micro-entrepreneurs. The Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act gives small enterprises, with loan requirements that range from 500 thousand to 5 million pesos, access to loans through funds provided by established banking institutions, filling that space between micro and large – the so-called missing middle. Mr. President, this is not a novel idea. In fact, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has a prevailing Credit Surety Fund Project with around 40 existing credit surety funds across the country. According to Deputy Governor Guinigundo, 548 cooperatives are now involved in BSP’s CSF Project with over 14,000 Filipinos benefiting from this current program. These credit guarantee mechanisms have successfully boosted lending for start-ups and small enterprises – a result we hope to expand by institutionalizing this program into law. The Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act will take the 7-year CSF Program of the BSP to the next level and ensure its large-scale implementation so that more of our countrymen can reap its benefits.


My dear colleagues and partners in development, if we are to be successful in achieving our goal of inclusive growth, we must ensure that financing is available throughout the full spectrum of enterprises – from micro to small, from small to medium and from medium to large – all with the help of the cooperative sector in the country, a sector that was fathered by former Senator Butz Aquino.


Mr. President and distinguished colleagues, let’s come together once again, this time in support of providing much needed capital for small businesses in our country. Let’s complete the range of financing options for businesses of all sizes and ensure the passage of the Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act of 2015! Inaasahan ko ang inyong suporta sa patakarang makakatulong sa pag-asenso ng libu-libo nating mga kababayan. Mga kaibigan, magtulungan po tayo upang maipasa ang Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act of 2015. Maraming, maraming salamat po! Magandang hapon sa ating lahat! R.A. 10744 CREDIT SURETY FUND COOPERATIVE ACT LAPSED INTO LAW ON FEBRUARY 6, 2016.




Magandang araw sa inyong lahat, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan! Isang napakalaking karangalan na narito ako ngayong araw na ito sa inyong campus na mabilisang naitayo pagtapos ng trahedyang dulot ng typhoon Yolanda. Isang napakalaking karangalan na humarap sa inyong lahat – mga matatag na Pilipinong hindi lamang naligtas, ngunit nagtiyatiyaga ring itayo ulit ang mga komunidad at industriyang napawi ng kalamidad.

Tunay na karangalan ang magsalita sa harap ng mga kabataang Pilipinong huhubog sa kinabukasan ng Leyte. 88

Maraming maraming salamat sa inyong pag-imbita sa akin bilang inyong commencement speaker! Before anything else, I think you have all earned a big, rousing applause and congratulations! Palakpakan po natin ang ating mga sarili! Palakpakan rin po natin ang ating mga guro at ang administrasyon ng KanangaEDC Institute of Technology (KEITech)! Sa aming mga guro - ang panahon na inyong nilaan para po sa mga estudyante, ang inyong binigay na oras sa kanila, pagchecheck ng kanilang mga test at proyekto, pakikinig sa kanilang mga problema at mga kuwentong buhay (Kasama na siguro ang lovelife dyan.), pakikinig sa kanilang mga pangarap, pagtulong sa ating mga kabataan na maabot ang kanilang potensyal, at ang desisyon niyong ituloy ang lahat ng ito sa kabila ng personal na paghihirap – tunay po kayong kapuri-puri. Let’s give our teachers and faculty a round of applause! At siyempre po, para sa ating mga magulang at mga kapamilya ng ating mga graduates, ang araw na ito ay simbolo ng inyong sakripisyo, ang inyong walang sawang pagmamahal, ang inyong pagkayod para sa kinabukasan ng inyong mga anak. Maraming pamilya ang nagkawatak-watak. Maraming nawalan ng magulang, anak, kapatid, at kaibigan. Sa araw na ito, inaalala natin sila. Inaalala natin ang kanilang kontribusyon at ang kanilang pakikibahagi sa tagumpay ng ating mga graduates. Maaari ko po bang hingin na tayong lahat ay magsitayo at magbigay ng isang minutong paggunita para sa lahat ng ating minamahal na pumanaw noong nakaraang mga taon. Maraming salamat. At siyempre, of course, our dear graduates, I would like you to bring to mind all the hardships that befell you the past years. Isaisip po natin ang lahat ng trials, struggles, mga personal burdens kasama at kasabay ng mga examen, mga naisulat na papers, naitawid na practical tests‌ Lahat iyan, nalampasan po ninyo. Kung kaya po, kayo ay deserving ng napakalakas na palakpakan! Congratulations to our graduates! The diploma that you will receive today is a symbol of your success in overcoming the challenges, not only in your studies, but also in your lives. Alam niyo po, matagal na ako nagtatrabaho sa sektor ng kabataan. At lagi kong pinagtatakahan, kung bakit ang tila nakikita nating imahe ng kabataan sa media ay lagi na lamang negatibo.


Ang naipintang larawan ng kabataan sa media ay ang kabataang lulong sa droga, sa gang violence, ang mga kabataang tambay at walang mahanap na trabaho.

At siyempre, lagi tayong nababatikos ng media at mas nakakatanda na wala na tayong ginawa kung hindi mag-Facebook at mag-DOTA. Ngunit, mga graduates, sa totoo lang, sa aking karanasan, ibang iba ang kabataang Pilipino.


Ang kabataang Pilipino na kilala ko ay tapat, matalino, madiskarte, masipag, matibay ang puso at buong loob na tumutulong sa kanilang kapwa at sa kanilang bansa. Ang kabataang kilala ko ang unang nag vovolunteer kapag may delubyo, at unang-unang tutulong kapag mayroong nangangailangan. ‘Yan po ang kilala ko na kabataang Pilipino, kaya sana po ay papayagan ninyo ako na magkuwento ng tungkol sa tatlong kabataang Pilipino na siyang nagbigay ng inspirasyon sa akin.


FILIPINO YOUTH – AN INSPIRATION Ang una po diyan ay tungkol sa aking kaibigang si Reese Fernandez-Ruiz na kasama po nating nagtayo ng Rags2Riches, isang social enterprise na nagtuturo ng mga nanay sa Payatas na magtahi ng mga highend fashionable bags at accessories gamit ang mga retaso at mga discarded cloth sa kanilang lugar. Para po sa mga hindi nakakaalam, sa Payatas po matatagpuan ang dumpsite ng Quezon City. Si Reese ay nag-graduate sa Ateneo de Manila ngunit nilaan po ang kaniyang oras upang tumulong sa mga kababaihan ng Payatas. Galing lang po si Reese sa isang simpleng pamilya. Akalain po ninyo, noong siya ay bata pa lamang, si Reese ay naging biktima ng bullying sa kaniyang grade school at high school! Pero imbis na mabigo, nag-aral siya ng mabuti at tumulong siya sa kanyang kapwa tao. Napabuti pa niya ang buhay ng mga nanay sa Rags2Riches. At mula sa kitang dalawampung piso kada araw dati, ang isang nanay na nagtatrabaho sa Rags2Riches ay kumikita na ngayon ng higit sa sampung beses pa kada araw. Ang kanilang mga produkto, hindi lang po hawak ng mga modelo at mga sosyal sa Metro Manila bagkus binebenta na rin sa Japan, London, at US. Ang pangalawang kuwento ay galing Cagayan De Oro.

Sa Cagayan De Oro City po, mayroong youth group doon na ang pangalan ay Dire Husi. Sila po ay tumutulong sa mga indigenous youth at mga street children ng Cagayan De Oro City. Kinukupkop po nila ang ilan sa mga batang natutulog sa kalye at binibigyan ng training sa crafts, musical instruments, dancing, painting, at iba pang mga skills na puwedeng matutunan ng mga bata. Noong nakaraang mga taon, nanalo po sila ng isang award na binigay ng National Youth Commission – ang Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations Award or TAYO Award. Ang kanilang representante na si Rustie Quintana ay ang tumanggap ng gantimpala. 15 years old po siya noong kinuha siya ng Dire Husi Initiative sa kalye ng Cagayan De Oro City. Ni hindi siya marunong magsulat o magbasa noon, ngunit ngayon po, graduate siya ng class of 2015 mula sa Ateneo de Cagayan, Development Communications at plano pa niya makakuha ng law degree upang lalong makatulong sa kaniyang komunidad. Sabi niya sa akin noong araw na natanggap niya ang TAYO award mula sa presidente sa loob mismo ng Heroes Hall ng Malacañan Palace, “Kuya, noong ako’y nasa kalye, hindi ko po naisip na maiimbita ako sa Malacañang. Nakamay ko pa po ang presidente ng Pilipinas!”


Isa pa pong kuwento! Una kong nakilala si Renz (Renato Tan) at ang Hayag Youth Organization ng Ormoc City noong 2013. Isang araw, habang sila ay nasa isang mangrove planting activity, tumaob ang kanilang bangka. Nalaman nila na wala pala sa kanila ang marunong lumangoy! Kaya buti na lang po, hindi malalim ang tubig na kanilang nahulugan. Naisipan po nila, “Kailangan, lahat tayo, marunong lumangoy.” Kaya isinagawa po nila ang “Langoy Para sa Kaluwasan” o “Swim for Safety” na isa pong advocacy nila para sa water-disaster preparedness. Nakita po ng Hayag Youth Organization na pagkatapos ng bagyong Yolanda, wala po, ni isa sa kanilang miyembro ang nalunod. At lahat pa ng kanilang na-train na kabataan ay ligtas sa delubyo! Malaki po ang naitulong ni Renz at ng Hayag Youth Organization noong bagyong Yolanda! At tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang kanilang training hanggang ngayon. Tatlong maiksing kuwento lang po ito – tatlong kwento ng mga kabataang Pilipino na napakalayo sa mga napapanood natin sa telebisyon. Pero sa totoo lang po, there are hundreds and there are thousands of inspirational stories of young Filipinos throughout our country. And I am certain, siguradong sigurado po ako na, sa kabila ng trahedya, marami kayong natuklasang kabataan na walang pagod na tumulong sa kapwang nasalanta ng hagupit ni Yolanda. Kung tutuusin, every time there is a major change in our country’s history, the Filipino youth is involved.


Kung lilingon tayo sa kasaysayan, karamihan ng mga pambansang bayani ay kabataan. Ngayon, mga batang Pilipino ang nagtatayo at nagpapalago ng mga social enterprise. Maraming advocacy ang buhay at kumikilos dahil sa mga batang volunteers. Napakaraming handang magtiwala sa potensyal ng kabataang Pilipino, tulad lamang ng Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

Naaalala ko po noong unang itinayo ang KEITech. Talagang tumaya ang EDC sa talino, kakayahan, at sigasig ng kabataan ng Kananga. Nagdala sila ng mamahaling state-of-the-art equipment para sa training at sinigurado na high quality ang edukasyon at training para sa komunidad. Kitang kita natin ngayon na ang pagtaya at pagtiwala ng EDC sa kabataan ng Kananga ay naging matagumpay! Nag-aral ng mabuti ang mga estudyante at dumami ang mga oportunidad na magkatrabaho sa mga iba’t ibang kumpanya. Umunlad ang komunidad ng Kananga at umunlad rin ang negosyo ng EDC. Sa kasamaang-palad, sumapit ang bagyong Yolanda. Napakaraming nasirang equipment, mga gusali at classroom. Nawasak ang KEITech. Subalit hindi nawala ang tiwala ng EDC sa kabataan ng Kananga. Wala pang dalawang taon at ang ganda-ganda na ulit ng campus ng KEITech! Narito na ulit ang mga world-class equipment! At nasa harapan ko ang mga mahuhusay na graduates na napakaraming oportunidad.

Lahat ng mga graduates ngayon ay may oportunidad na i-tayo at i-angat ang Leyte. Isang napakahalagang tungkulin iyan. Nakatitig ang buong mundo sa ating rebuilding efforts at may oportunidad tayong ipakita sa lahat na kaya nating bumangon, na kaya nating higitan ang nakaraan.

WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT WE CAN BUILD BETTER. Nagpapasalamat ako sa inyong lahat na nagaalay ng serbisyo para sa inyong bayan at para sa inyong probinsya. So, mga kaibigan, mayroong dalawang imahe ng kabataan na nangingibabaw. Isa, ang nakikita natin sa media – ang kabataang pabigat lamang sa pamilya at sa ating lipunan. At pangalawa, ang imahe ng kabataang tumutulong sa kanilang pamilya, ang kabataang mapagkakatiwalaan, ang kabataang handang magsulong ng kaunlaran at pagbabago sa ating bayan. Alin po doon ang inyong papanigan? Ang sagot po sa mga iyan ay mahahanap sa aking panghuling kuwento sa araw na ito. Ito po ay kuwento tungkol sa isang ermitanyo at isang binata.


THE WISE OLD MAN AND THE TEENAGER Mayroong isang ermitanyo na kilala dahil sa kaniyang talino. Ang binata, tulad ng ermitanyo, ay matalino rin… pero siya po, medyo maloko! Sabi niya, “Kita mo ‘tong ermitanyo. Tignan nga natin kung talagang matalino ang matandang ‘to!” Lumapit ang binata sa ermitanyong nagmumuni-muni sa ilalim ng punong mangga. Hawak ng binata ang isang ibon sa kanyang kamay na nakatago sa kaniyang likod.

Uulitin ko po: Ang sagot ay nasa iyong kamay. Mga kaibigan, napakaraming tanong ang bumabalot sa ating isipan, lalo na ngayong nakatapos na tayo ng pag-aaral. Ano ba ang naghihintay sa atin na hamon paglabas ng KEITech? Makakatulong ba talaga ako sa rebuilding efforts? Gaano katagal ba tayo magtatrabaho para maibalik sa dati ang Leyte? Kakayanin ba naming magtayo ng mas matibay at mas ligtas na imprastraktura? Paano ako magiging bahagi ng pag-unlad ng Leyte at ng Pilipinas? Paano ba ako pagmumulan ng inspirasyon at ginhawa para sa ating kapwa? Ang sagot po sa lahat ng iyan… Ang sagot, tulad ng sinabi ng ermitanyo – ay nasa ating mga kamay, nasa atin po iyan.

Masama ang balak ni binata. Gusto niyang ipakita na mas matalino siya sa matanda!

Ang sagot sa lahat ng mga tanong na iyan ay nasa inyong kamay – nasa inyong pagdedesisyon, nasa inyong pagsisikap, nasa inyong pagpupursigi.

Tanong ng binata sa ermitanyo, “Kung ikaw nga ang sinasabi nilang matalino at magaling, buhay ba o patay ang hawak kong ibon?”

Huwag nating kalimutan ang mga kuwento ng mga kabataang Pilipino na nagtagumpay, hindi lang para sa kanilang sarili ngunit para rin sa ginhawa ng kapwa Pilipino.

Ang wika ng ermitanyo sa binata, “Nako, anak! Alam ko na ang balak mo. Kung sasabihin kong patay ang ibon, papakawalan mo ito at lilipad. Ngunit kung sabihin ko namang buhay ang ibon, pipisain mo ito hanggang sa mamatay.” Hindi makaimik ang binata. Naramdaman niya ang paggalaw ng ibon sa kaniyang mga kamay. “Pero, binata, mayroon akong sagot sa tanong mo,” bigkas ng ermitanyo.

“Ang kapalaran ng ibon, tulad ng kapalaran mo, ay nasa iyong mga kamay.” 95

Huwag nating kalimutan na mayroon tayong kakayahan na maangat ang sarili, maangat ang kapwa Pilipino, maangat ang bayan sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon. Nasa ating mga kamay ang pagiging mabuting tao, mabuting Pilipino na mayroong kontribusyon sa bayan. At ako, bilang inyong commencement speaker, naniniwala ako sa inyong kakayahang piliin ang tamang daan para sa inyong mga sarili, para sa inyong pamilya, at para sa ating bayan. Naniniwala akong nasa inyong kamay ang kinabukasan ninyo, ng inyong pamilya, ng inyong probinsya. At naniniwala akong sisikapin ninyong magtayo ng bagong komunidad, industriya, at imprastraktura na hihigit pa sa nakaraan.

I BELIEVE IN THE FILIPINO YOUTH. I BELIEVE IN THE YOUTH OF LEYTE. I BELIEVE IN ALL OF YOU! Binabati ko po ngayon ang lahat na mga nagsitapos! Mabuhay kayo, mga graduates. It is indeed an honor to be here. Thank you very much.




16th Congress, Senate of the Philippines Sponsorship Speech 7 May 2014



Mr. President, with an estimated 700,000 fresh graduates this year joining the ranks of the unemployed, the number of jobless youth ranging from 15 to 24 years old in the country will breach the two million mark. As the number of unemployed youth in the country grows each
year, we have to create new ways of thinking to address the epidemic. The Youth Entrepreneurship Bill aims to build a culture of entrepreneurship as an alternative solution to unemployment and underemployment.


Starting them young, the Department of Education (DepEd) shall develop and integrate subjects and competencies on entrepreneurship in the curriculum for primary, secondary and alternative learning modules. In addition, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), TESDA and other private institutions, would, in turn, create entrepreneurship modules for tertiary and post-secondary education that are aligned from the basic education modules. Through training and exposure, young people will have the option of considering to be their own boss and start their own businesses as an alternative, instead of being an employee for a company that is not their own.

Access to financing and grants will be provided, together with mentoring and much-needed market linkages. One of this year’s Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations or TAYO Awards is the Tagum City Youth Laboratory Cooperative Mindanao for their project, Financial Literacy for Youth Program.


Bumuo sina Reven na labimpitong taong gulang, at ang kanyang mga kaibigan ng isang programa kung saan tinuruan nilang mag-ipon ang mga kabataan sa kanilang lugar. Mula sa walong libong piso noong 2010, naging isang milyong piso ang kanilang naipon sa loob ng apat na taon. Mula sa apat napu’t walong batang miyembro, lumaki sa mahigit na isang libong miyembro ang kanilang grupo.

Nagamit nila ang perang iyon para mabayaran ang kanilang tuition fees, pantustos sa mga gastusin sa bahay at makatulong sa pamilya. Higit sa lahat, nagkaroon ang mga kabataang miyembro nila ng pondo upang makapagnegosyo. Mr. President, there is a bigger chance for us to produce young businessmen and women if we start them young. Financial literacy in the basic education system is a good foundation for entrepreneurship in the future. At the same time, let us enable an environment where these young people can harness their innate energy and creativity and provide them the opportunity to start on their own and build their own businesses.


As we create new enterprises by the youth, we address the unemployment and underemployment that are impeding our country of true and inclusive growth.


In behalf of the Filipino youth, I encourage our colleagues to join me in making possible and empowering the new young entrepreneurs of our country. Maraming salamat.





Magandang umaga po, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan! To all the judges, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to listen and guide our finalists. To the mentors who shared their insightful experiences, maraming maraming salamat! Sa mga partners and sponsors po ng TAYO 13 Awards, maraming salamat! San Miguel Corporation, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, SMART, Lenovo Philippines – our official I.T. partner, Cebu Pacific – our official airline partner, Greenwich Philippines and Jollibee Group Foundation… Thank you for betting on the Filipino youth and supporting their initiatives to make a difference in our country. To the multimedia arts students of the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, napakaganda po ng mga videos! Thank you for helping us tell these inspiring stories. Palakpakan po natin sila! To the team who put it all together, to the TAYO Foundation, to the Coca-Cola Foundation, members of the National Youth Commission, and members of my team in the Senate, congratulations on another successful TAYO Awards – the 13th ! Thank you for all your hard work and sleepless nights! And, finally… a heartfelt thank you to our beautiful, handsome, and, hopefully, not too nervous TAYO 13 finalists – the reason we are all here today. Our dear finalists, welcome to Malacañan Palace, the setting of the final leg of your TAYO 13 journey… so take it all in. This is it! This year’s TAYO Awards is held at a very important time in our country’s history.


Once again, we have the opportunity to place our vote on Filipinos we believe will lift the country to greater heights,

not just for ourselves, not just for a chosen few, but for each and every Filipino – especially those that are living in poverty and isolation. 105

With reforms creeping into the different branches of government and progress within the reach of more and more Filipinos, this year’s referendum will determine whether we continue forging forward, retreat back, or hold the fort for the next six years. And for the pivotal 2016 elections, we find that the vote of the Filipino youth is critical. Sadly, many have low expectations of young Filipinos, believing that they would be easily swayed by propaganda, entertaining memes, and catchy jingles. There are many who are doubtful of our young men and women, thinking that a constant barrage of advertisements and the popularity of a candidate’s endorsers are all it takes to win their favor.

THERE ARE MANY WHO QUESTION THE ABILITY OF THE FILIPINO YOUTH TO MAKE EARNEST AND WISE DECISIONS DURING THESE CONSPICUOUS TIMES. A lot has been said about the youth. Marami tayong naririnig tungkol sa kabataan. At karamihan sa ating naririnig ay nega. Pinipili raw ng kabataang Pilipino ang mag-selfie at mag-facebook magdamag imbis na pakinggan ang magulang. Pinipili raw ng kabataang Pilipino ang mag-DOTA imbis na mag-aral. Pinipili raw ng kabataang Pilipino ang malulon sa droga at sa bisyo sa halip na makatulong sa pamilya. Ito ba talaga ang diwa ng kabataang Pilipino? Does this define the Filipino youth? Let us not forget…


It was our young Filipinos that decided to rebel against foreign conquerors using, not only the art of war, but also the sway of a mighty pen to pierce hearts and win our freedom.

It was the Filipino Youth who decided to renounce fear and raise fists full of yellow daisies to an intimidating military, overthrowing a cruel dictator and mobilizing the most graceful revolution the world has ever seen.

Time and time again, in our country’s history, young Filipinos choose wisely, choose selflessly, and choose with the Philippines at heart.


When there is a destructive typhoon, catastrophic earthquake, or devastating flood, it is our young men and women that choose to band together to serve those in the trenches through rescue missions and relief efforts. And today, I am addressing young men and women that have chosen to create change and have decided to make history by shaping the future. The School of Law Advocacy and Community Enrichment (SOLACE) organization has chosen to protect the rights of forgotten Filipino detainees.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, the Philippine Junior Jaycees, Inc., decided to support the livelihood of farmers by conducting seminars, distributing farming supplies, and creating a contingency fund for the residents of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte.

Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute (ECCRI)-De La Salle Araneta University developed and distributed a device to detect oncoming floods while the Instrumentation and Control Student Society’s (ICSS) invention guards against fires.

Pinoy Malikhain uses the power of creativity and entertainment to transform the lives of orphans and street children while the Kanlaon Theater Guild uses the same talent to better educate communities on disaster risk reduction and management.

The Tobog Youth Organization drastically improved day care facilities in their barangay and students of the University of San Carlos continue to ignite the love for reading in remote public elementary schools.

Propelling our Inherited Nation through our Youth (POINTY) and I am Making A Difference (I am M.A.D.) both endeavor to mold the youth into productive members and leaders within our society.

UP ALCHEMES and the UP Chemical Engineering Society encourage the use of science and technology to solve societal problems while BNCHS-YECS develops entrepreneurial skills as they address the needs of their fellow students.

We have the Youth Sports Advocacy Philippines Inc. using sports to instill good values and develop responsible citizens while the UP Circle of Industrial Engineering Majors (UP CIEM) hopes to develop livelihood for more Filipino families.

Keep Hope Alive enhances the living conditions of Mangyan communities in Oriental Mindoro while Youth Working for Change brings together young Filipinos from areas of conflict to provide muchneeded water systems to communities in Basilan.


Finally, we have young men and women from Rebirth Outdoors Trekkers and Adventurers (ROTA) using their love for trekking to raise funds for health care while their fellow adventurers, the Tanay Mountaineers, employ charcoal briquetting to improve the health of communities while also protecting the environment. Each and every one of you deserves a hearty round of applause! Faced with our TAYO 13 finalists, how can one say that the Filipino youth cannot choose wisely, cannot choose selflessly, cannot choose for the country?

You, all of you, are the reason I can say to all these detractors, all the naysayers, and all those that are cynical about the Filipino youth‌ I can proudly say to them that young men and women from across the Philippines can make, will make, and are making better decisions for our country, for our future.


Today, I am honored to stand before the exemplars of Filipino youth.

Today, I am humbled to stand before young men and women that show the country, and the world, what Filipinos are made of and what every young Filipino can become. Today, we celebrate the true spirit of the Filipino youth that is alive within each and every one of us – a bright spirit that lives deep within every Filipino, young and old. Muli, maraming, maraming salamat sa inspirasyon! Mabuhay ang kabataang Pilipino!






Good afternoon, Mr. President and to my distinguished colleagues.   Mga kaibigan, mga kababayan, magandang hapon sa ating lahat! It is my great privilege to stand before you today in support of the institutionalization of youth participation in our country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or NDRRMC, as I sponsor the Responsive, Empowered and ServiceCentric Youth or RESCYouth Act of 2015, also known as Senate Bill No. 2789, under Committee Report No. 161, entitled An Act  Including The National Youth Commission Chairperson As A Member Of The National Disaster Risk Reduction And Management Council, Amending For The Purpose Republic Act No. 10121, Otherwise Known As The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction And Management Act Of 2010.

Our beloved country is one of the most vulnerable nations to the threat of climate change. According to the Long Term Climate Risk Index (CRI), which ranks countries affected by extreme weather events, the Philippines ranked fifth in the world. And in the 2013 Climate Risk Index (CRI), our country is ranked the number one most affected with over 24 billion US Dollars in losses that year.


As we all know, in 2013, Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan, the deadliest typhoon in our history, affected over 14 million people and took over 6,000 lives in Eastern Visayas. To this day, we are still trying to recover from the tragedy.

My dear colleagues, My colleagues, Mr. dear President, as we are on the receiving end of vicious typhoons, brutal storm Mr. President, as we are the receiving surges, earthquakes, andonother adverse end of vicious typhoons, calamities, we have takenbrutal stepsstorm and surges, earthquakes, and other for adverse have made leaps in preparing such calamities, occasions. we have taken steps and have made leaps in preparing for such occasions. We have the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Nationwide We have the Department of Science Operational Assessment of Hazards or and projectTechnology NOAH led by(DOST) our very Nationwide own worldOperational Assessment of Lagmay. Hazards or renowned scientist Dr. Mahar project NOAH led by our very own worldrenowned scientist Mahar Lagmay. Just last week, the Dr. Philippine Institute for Just last week,and the Seismology Philippine Institute for Volcanology (Phivolcs) Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) released the Valley Fault Atlas containing


large scale maps of the areas traversed by the West Valley Fault – which should be a released the Valley Fault Atlas containing starting point in preparing for a potential large scale maps of the areas traversed by earthquake in Metro Manila. the West Valley Fault – which should be a starting point in preparing for a potential The NDRRMC has also released the earthquake in Metro Manila. National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan (NDRRMP) for 2011 to The NDRRMC has also released the 2028, which identifies the capacities we National Disaster Risk Reduction and need to develop and the roadmap we Management Plan (NDRRMP) for 2011 to need to follow in order to become truly 2028, which identifies the capacities we resilient in the face of catastrophe. This need to develop and the roadmap we plan not only focuses on preparedness need to follow in order to become truly and response, but also on prevention and resilient in the face of catastrophe. This rehabilitation before and after a crisis. plan not only focuses on preparedness and response, but also on prevention and rehabilitation before and after a crisis.

Moreover, we are seeing movements on the ground. National agencies, local government units and the private sectors have constantly coordinated to be better prepared for disasters by educating our fellow Filipinos, acquiring more equipment for rescue and first aid, and institutionalizing relief operations and quick response teams, among other efforts. And not surprisingly, Mr. President, the youth is playing a vital role in our pursuit for overall disaster resilience.

They have served as a beacon of hope and a catalyst of action. Student councils lead schools to become depositories of donations and efficient centers for packing and deployment of relief goods, never running out of willing volunteers. In addition, social media turns from a platform of selfies into a nerve center for information, tips and news monitoring during typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic movements. Mr. President, our youth organizations have also created innovative solutions to help their communities become more resilient, more adaptive to our changing climate.

To name a few exemplary examples, sa Cauayan City, Isabela, ang ating Ten Accomplished Youth Organization Awardee na Red Cross Youth and Junior Rescue Team ay nakalikha ng Disaster Management eco-rafts mula sa recycled plastic bottles para sa mga nakatira sa malapit sa ilog at mga lugar kung saan madalas pong binabaha.  Tuwing may bagyo at umaakyat ang tubig, ginagamit po ang mga eco-raft na ito ng mga pamilya roon upang makaligtas sa sakuna. Mahalaga po na may alam at kasanayan ang ating mga kababayan sa basic life support, first-aid training at rescue operations lalo na sa panahon ng kapahamakan. Naranasan po ito mismo ng Hayag Youth Organization ng Ormoc, Leyte.


Isang araw po, ang mga kaibigan po natin sa Hayag Youth Organization isang mangrove planting activity,Youth at Isang araw po, ay angnasa mga kaibigan po natin sa Hayag biglang tumaob ang kanilang bangka. Doon activity, po nila nalaman Organization ay nasa isang mangrove planting at biglang na wala pokanilang sa kanilabangka. ang marunong Butina nawala langpo po,sa tumaob ang Doon polumangoy! nila nalaman mababaw lang ang tubig. kanila ang marunong lumangoy! Buti na lang po, mababaw lang ang tubig. Kaya noong araw pong iyon, naisip po nila na gumawa ng isang programaAng iyon, “Swim for Safety” sa Kaya noong araw pong naisip po nila or na “Langoy gumawa Para ng isang Kaluwasan.” programa po at para disaster programaAngIsang “Swim for Safety” or adbokasiya “Langoy Para sa sa Kaluwasan.” preparedness. Isang programa po at adbokasiya para sa disaster preparedness. sa kabutihang palad, tamaan noong ng tamaan ng Yolanda Bagyong At saAtkabutihang palad, noong Bagyong ang Yolanda ang lahat ng poHayag ng miyembro ng Hayagna Ormoc, lahat po Ormoc, ng miyembro Youth Organization Youth Organization na nakadaan sa programang iyon ay nakadaan po sa programang iyon ay po nakaligtas sa delubyo. nakaligtas sa delubyo. Ang Rescue Assistance Peacekeeping Intelligence Detail o RAPID Rescue Assistance Peacekeeping Intelligence Detail osa ay Ang malaki rin po ang naitulong at marami na ang nailigtas RAPID56-hour ay malakitraining rin po ang naitulong atsaan marami na angpo nailigtas kanilang program kung itinuturo nila ang sa kanilang 56-hourfirst training program kung saan itinuturo po emergency response, aid, bandaging, evacuation at iba pang nila ang at emergency response, first aid, bandaging, evacuation kaalaman kasanayan na kakailanganin tuwing mayroon pong at iba pang kaalaman at kasanayan na kakailanganin tuwing delubyo. mayroon pong delubyo. Ang mga nagtapos po ng training program ng RAPID ang mga ilan nagtapos po ng training dumating program po ng ang RAPID ang sa Ang first mga responders noong panahong Yolanda, mga ilan sa first responders noong panahong dumating poat nang panahong dumating ang napakalakas na lindol sa Bohol, ang Yolanda, nang panahong dumating napakalakas na noong may lumubog pong barko sa Cebuang kung saan isinigawa Bohol, atang noong may lumubog pong cardiopulmonary barko sa Cebu nglindol mgasatrainees kanilang natutunang kung saan isinigawa ng mgamakaligtas trainees ang natutunang resuscitation or CPR upang pokanilang ng isang sanggol na cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR upang makaligtas po 8-months old pa lamang! ng isang sanggol na 8-months old pa lamang! Napakarami na po ngayong mga youth groups na nagtuturo ng Napakarami na ito po at ngayong mga ng youth na nagtuturo mga kasanayang kumukuha mgagroups volunteers para mas ng mga pa kasanayang ito at kumukuha ng mgaresponse volunteers maparami ang mayroong kaalaman sa disaster and para mas maparami pa ang mayroong kaalaman sa disaster rescue. response and rescue. Mr. President and esteemed colleagues, all over the country, young Mr. President and esteemed colleagues, alland overskills the country, Filipinos are dedicating their time, energy, to build a young Filipinos arePhilippines dedicatingready their time, energy, and skills strong and resilient to take on overwhelming to build a strong and resilient Philippines ready to take on tragedies.    overwhelming tragedies.    are involved in the whole process of disaster reduction and They They areefforts involved in the whole process of disaster mitigation – from education and prevention, toreduction rescue and and mitigation efforts from education and prevention, to first response, to relief and– rehabilitation efforts. rescue and first response, to relief and rehabilitation efforts.



involvement in disaster risk reduction and management. Let us empower them further by Rightinstitutionalizing now, local government youth units are already working with the youth, usually asrisk volunteers. involvement in disaster The RESCYouth Act of 2015 raises this level reduction management. of participationand and includes our youth in the planning process, identifying strategic efforts, mobilizing communities, and making risk preparedness and disaster resiliency as part of Filipino culture. This Act includes the National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman in the NDRRMC and subsequently, involves youth representatives in the local levels by their inclusion in the Regional, Provincial, City, Municipal, and Barangay Disaster Coordinating Councils.


Mr. President, sa RESCYouth Act of 2015, mapakikinggan sa bawat komunidad – barangay man, lungsod, o probinsya – ang mahalagang boses ng ating kabataan upang mapabuti ang ating paghahanda para sa panahon ng kalamidad. We have received tremendous support for this legislation – from the DILG, a number of LGUs, the NDRRMC, and of course, the National Youth Commission. Our stakeholders acknowledge the value of involving the youth in disaster risk reduction from the planning stage all the way down to the execution stage. The NDRRMC, government agencies, local government units, schools, disaster management units, scientists, members of the academe, local businesses, the private sector, youth volunteers and youth groups – all of us, together, can make significant progress in our country’s ability to face calamity head on.


It is in trusting each other’s abilities and uniting all sectors, including the youth, especially the youth, that we can develop a Philippines that is truly well informed, incredibly prepared, and EXCEPTIONALLY RESISTANT AND RESILIENT TO DISASTER. Let’s formally enlist our bright, impassioned, determined, resourceful, and brave young Filipinos by passing the RESCYouth Act of 2015. Magandang hapon po sa ating lahat, maraming maraming salamat at mabuhay po ang kabataang Pilipino! Thank you very much!





Magandang hapon sa ating lahat, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan.

In February 1986, all of humanity watched as a peaceful revolution in the island nation called the Philippines brought democracy back to our land. This revolution didn’t happen in a day nor was it hatched by one single person. This revolution was a result of millions of voices in protest backed by concrete, non-violent action. That was 29 years ago, and I

was only 8 years old then, but I recall being a witness and willing participant in a turning point in Philippine history. Bago pa humantong sa EDSA Revolution, nararamdaman na ng lahat ang ihip ng pagbabago. And the

culmination of this revolutionary energy was over 2 million Filipinos, from all ages and all walks of life, taking to the streets amid threats of military action.


I vividly recall eating ice buko and sharing food with the other protesters at the corner of Annapolis and EDSA during the four days of the People Power Revolution. Along EDSA, Filipinos found common ground in their yearning for truth, justice, freedom, and, most importantly, peace. The crowd stood their ground, arms linked

in solidarity, even as tanks threatened to shoot them down and run them over.

We did the impossible. We fought a dictator who had military power, guns, and resources that could have easily ended our lives.

We offered ourselves to the Philippines – to freedom, justice, democracy, and peace. That was the EDSA People Power Revolution. And the rest, as they say, is history. That was 29 years ago.

Today, I still have a yearning, as I’m sure many of you do, to build a Philippines that honors truth, upholds justice, and creates prosperity for all, not just the chosen few. A lot has changed since the 1980s. We have evolved from analog to digital, from sending postcards to photo and video messaging, from joining street protests to signing online petitions and sharing #hashtags with a cause. The spirit of People Power has evolved. Filipinos are creative, innovative, resourceful, and have found many ways and means to come together to help build, and rebuild, our nation.


Naaalala ninyo pa ba nang nabigla tayo sa matinding pagbabaha noong bagyong Ondoy sa Mega Manila? O di kaya ang mas sariwang lungkot na naranasan ng Pilipinas noong tumama ang bagyong Yolanda sa Eastern Visayas?

Maraming nawalan ng tahanan at kagamitan. Maraming nawalan ng bahay at buhay. Ngunit, hindi nabigo ang sigla ng nakararami. Punung-puno ang mga unibersidad, mga basketball court, at iba’t ibang mga headquarters ng mga donasyon at umaapaw pa sa mga volunteers. Sa tuwing mayroong lindol, bagyo, storm surge o anumang trahedya, wagas ang pagtulong ng mga Pilipino – lumalabas ang diwa ng bayanihan ng bawa’t isa. Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon? Noong naglakad ng isang libong kilometro mula Luneta hanggang Tacloban ang grupo ni Yeb Sano, na ating director ng Climate Change Commission, upang pakinggan ng mundo ang hinaing ng Pilipinas para sa Climate Justice, dumaan sila sa apatnapung bayan. Sumali sa kanilang paglalakad ang mga tao sa mga pook na dinaanan nila upang ipakita ang kanilang suporta hanggang sa umabot ng tatlong libo ang kanilang pangkat. Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon? Tuwing nagsasama-sama ang komunidad, mga magulang, mga guro, mga mag-aaral at iba pa para ihanda ang mga public schools bago magpasukan, para pinturahan ang mga bubong at dingding, linisin ang mga estero at hardin, ayusin ang mga mesa, silya’t blackboard. Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon? Kapag ang mga bagong graduate, imbis na maghanap ng trabaho na may malalaking sahod, ay pinipiling pumunta sa mga komunidad, para organisahin ang mga nanay, hanapan sila ng pagkakakitaan, i-link sila sa mga merkado para ang kanilang mga kita at kabuhayan ay tumaas at tuluyang magbago ang kanilang buhay. Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon? Noong dumating si Pope Francis, kay daming Pilipino ang nagvolunteer, ilang gabing nagpuyat, napagod at nabasa ng ulan para maging maayos ang mga events niya rito sa bansa. Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon?


Tulad ng Hayag Youth Organization, nang tinuruan nila ang mga kabataan sa Ormoc ng paglangoy, first aid at iba pang disaster preparedness skills. At nang tumama ang Bagyong Yolanda sa kanilang lungsod, walang nasawi sa kanilang mga miyembro. Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon? O tulad ng Dire Husi sa Cagayan de Oro, na kanilang tinipon ang mga batang kalye at tinuruan sila ng sining upang mailayo sila sa bisyo ng pag-rurugby at kriminalidad. Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon? At ang mga kabataang taga-Cebu na Gualandi Volunteer Service Program, kung saan umiikot sila sa kanilang lungsod na nangangampanya para protektahan ang mga PWDs laban sa diskriminasyon at pang-aabuso. Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon? Habang mayroong mga Pilipinong nagsasama-sama, kabila ng pagkakaiba sa paniniwala, upang isulong ang kapakanan ng mga komunidad sa Pilipinas, naroroon ang diwa ng People Power. Any time people come together to further causes that benefit the less fortunate; any time you join a group that creates change for a better Philippines, that’s People Power. The Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards Foundation is a witness to this spirit of nation building. And on the 29th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, we celebrate the youth organizations that have best exemplified People Power in our communities.

The TAYO Awards was established back in 2001 to harness the spirit of People Power within every young Filipino. There was a need to recognize and support the valiant efforts of the youth to create a better Philippines for their countrymen. On its 12th year, the TAYO Awards continues to recognize the youth’s efforts to improve the lives of our fellow Filipinos today. This year alone, we received around 400 entries – each entry, a youth group’s project that contributes to the development of our country; each entry, proof that the spirit of People Power persists in the youth of today. We would like to thank you, TAYO finalists, for embodying the spirit of People Power and renewing the fire of nation building! You, who have made a palpable and lasting impact on society, can serve as an inspiration to even more people to join the fight for a better Philippines. Maraming salamat, Mr. President and the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) for acknowledging the youth sector as a source of People Power and powerful force for social development. We would like to thank all the sponsors that have made the TAYO Awards possible. Thank you for being a part of its success! We hope to continue to shine light and tangible support to these youth groups, which serve as guides and leaders that can take the Philippines farther than we could ever imagine. May we continue to inspire more young Filipinos to embody the true spirit of People Power.


People Power led us to victory against an unbeatable foe in 1986. Today, we oppose even more formidable and seemingly faceless adversaries like poverty, climate change, social injustice, discrimination, indifference, and even hatred. The road to victory is dark and full of incredible challenges. There is so much that has yet to be done to make our dream for the Philippines a reality. Buo ang aking tiwala na gaya ng dati, kakayanin natin ang mga ito – kung sama-sama tayo, kung tayo’y magtutulungan, kung ang diwa ng People Power ay buhay sa ating lahat. Maraming salamat po. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!




Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon. It is my honor and privilege to stand before you today to support the development of our Filipino youth leaders and spur the next set of Filipino heroes, as I co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2401 under Committee Report No. 75 otherwise known as the Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014.

In a country where half of the population are 15-30 years of age, it is our duty to provide an enabling environment for the youth to be able to participate in building our nation. The Filipino youth have the innate energy, creativity and innovative ideas to come up with new solutions to address the age-old problems of the country. It is thus urgent to harness their full potential as a partner in the development of our country, to encourage their active participation in programs and projects of communities and engage them in transparent and accountable governance.


Ang kabataan ay hindi lang ang pag-asa sa kinabukasan ng ating bayan. May kakayahan na silang maging bahagi sa pagbabago sa kasalukuyan. Mr. President, para sa inyong kaalaman, ang title ng una kong panukala para sa bill na ito ay Ang Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan.


Even though it was not carried in the amendments, we chose that title because we believe that the reforms for the Sangguniang Kabataan would develop more heroes among our Filipino youth, who are ready to sacrifice and give their time, talents and resources for the benefit of our countrymen.

Mr. President, my career as a public servant started in the youth movement, where I served as a member of the student council, which promoted volunteerism among our fellow students, and even at times, called upon them to go to the streets to fight for the social issues of the day. Nang ako po ay naging Chairman ng National Youth Commission noong 2002, binuo namin ang Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO) Awards na hanggang ngayon ay nagbibigay parangal sa pinakamagagaling na youth organizations sa bansa. We recognize these youth groups that have made an impact in their respective communities all over the country through projects in education, health, livelihood and the like. Isa sa mga nanalo ay ang Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme, Inc. (GVSP) ng Cebu. Natuklasan nila na isa sa bawat tatlong batang pipi’t bingi ang namomolestya sa kanilang lungsod. Kaya gumawa sila ng information campaign laban sa sexual abuse ng mga pipi’t bingi at kilalanin ang karapatan ng mga persons with disabilities.

Napansin naman ng Dire Husi Initiatives sa Cagayan de Oro ang mga batang lansangang naaadik sa rugby. Kaya tinipon nila ang mga ito, pinakain, binigyan ng arts education at livelihood training para ilayo sa droga at magkaroon ng mas magandang kinabukasan. Ang huli kong halimbawa ay ang Hayag Youth Organization ng Ormoc City. Tinuruan nilang lumangoy ang kabataan sa kanilang lugar at nagbigay sila ng iba pang water-disaster preparedness training bilang paghahanda sa mga sakuna. Nang dumagsa ang Bagyong Yolanda, walang nalunod o naaksidente sa kanilang mga miyembro dahil sa kanilang training program.


Mr. President, the Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme, Dire Husi Initiatives and Hayag Youth Organization are only three youth groups among thousands who have spent their time creating relevant and innovative projects that address different issues in their communities such as PWD abuse, drug addiction and disaster risk prevention and management. Admittedly, there seems to be a disconnect between the youth that I have mentioned and the reality on the ground for a number of Sangguniang Kabataan. But today, we have the opportunity to change this notion if we pass this measure – the 2014 Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Bill. We want to create an enabling environment for more young people to serve and find the heroism in them and hence, we are pushing for the reforms found in this bill. After much debate and discussion, we want to highlight three points which we feel would encourage more young people to participate and spur heroism. These are: expanding the age limit, creating local youth development councils and lastly, ensuring more relevant programs and projects of the SK all over the country.


Expanding the Age Limit Firstly, we are proposing to expand the age range from 15 to 30 years old, in accordance to Republic Act 8044 or the Youth in Nation Building Act of 1994, and to peg the age of officers between ages 18 to 24. The reform in age range will enable a greater number of youth to participate and give officials more independence in their affairs, such as signing contracts, disbursing money, and making them more accountable for their actions.

Youth Organizations Participation: Local Youth Development Council The second major reform that we are pushing for is the introduction of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), a council that will support the Sangguniang Kabataan and ensure the participation of more Filipino youth through youth organizations. The LYDC will compose of representatives from the different youth organizations in the community – student councils, church and youth faith groups, youthserving organizations, and community-based youth groups. It aims to harmonize, broaden and strengthen all programs and initiatives of the local government and non-governmental organizations for the youth sector. The LYDC will serve as guide and refuge for the Sangguniang Kabataan so that their programs and policies will be rooted in the needs of the various youth organizations that are present in their communities. Mr. President, ang mga lungsod ng Pasay, Naga at Cebu ay kasalukuyang may mga LYDC upang mahikayat ang kanilang mga kabataang makibahagi sa mga programa ng kanilang LGU. Sa Pasay, bahagi ang kabataan sa cleanliness at peace and order programs, at sa mga livelihood projects ng lungsod. Sa Naga naman, nagfocus sila sa paggawa ng training at seminar para sa pisikal, pang-akademiko, psychological, at values formation ng kabataan. At sa Cebu, kasama ang kabataan sa pagtatayo ng mga dormitories para sa kanilang migrant youth na nagaaral sa iba’t ibang unibersidad ng kanilang lungsod. In my time as the Chair of the National Youth Commission, I saw that this is a proven structure that will not only develop our Sangguniang Kabataan to be better leaders, but also ensure that their decisions, actions and priorities are in line with the needs of the youth in their area.


Relevant and Impactful Programs and Projects Lastly, we are pushing for the enumeration of clear themes of the programs and projects that can be explored by the LYDC and the SK in formulating their Youth Development Plans, to weed out tokenistic projects for the sake of having programs for the youth. These programs need to meet the goals of promoting meaningful youth participation in nation-building, sustainable youth development and empowerment, equitable access to quality education, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and resiliency, youth employment and livelihood, health and anti-drug abuse, gender sensitivity, capability building and sports development. We hope that the bill will also clarify the relationships between the Sangguniang Kabataan, the National Youth Commission and the Department of the Interior and Local Government. By doing so, we ensure that the programs and policies that they will come up with will truly be relevant and impactful for the sector they are supposed to serve.

Mr. President, it is urgent and important that we reform the Sangguniang Kabataan, as a platform for engaging the youth at the grassroots level, and where they will be honed to become better and more effective public servants in the future.

Developing the New Filipino Heroes It is now time to work on strengthening our leadership institutions, particularly youth development programs, to form new leaders with technical and management competence, who are grounded on Filipino values.


It is imperative that we provide an enabling environment for more young Filipinos to be the new heroes that our country needs. Maraming salamat po at magandang hapon. Mabuhay ang kabataang Pilipino!





Magandang hapon, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan. Before anything else, I think you have all earned a big, rousing applause and congratulations! Let’s give our teachers and faculty a round of applause! Let’s give much deserved applause to our family and loved ones! Finally, let us not forget why we’re all here today. Congratulations to our graduates. You deserve the loudest applause! To be honest, when I was invited a few months ago to address all of you today, I was quite flattered to be chosen. It was a pleasant surprise to be invited today, a pleasant surprise that came with a tremendous amount of pressure!

How does one inspire such bright minds as the graduates of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business? How does one reach the hearts and minds of our country’s current and future leaders? How does one inspire the hearts of intelligent individuals who will drive the Philippine economy to even greater heights? How can yours truly possibly affirm, motivate, and, dare I say, entertain such brilliant men and women? Alam ninyo naman, the pressure on commencement speakers is high today. After all, it’s the era of YouTube and going viral. With seemingly every single part of our lives on the Internet – what you had for breakfast, your outfit of the day, how many friends you have, how many people heart your new pair of Nikes – truly, we live in a world markedly different from even just a decade ago.


As much as this new, exciting world has brought communities closer together, given us tools to reach out, communicate more easily, and do business more conveniently, it does have a dark side.

TO PUT IT QUITE SUCCINCTLY, PARANG ANG DAMING NEGA. I need not look further than my own Facebook page. During the campaign, we started to play with my nickname and proclaimed proudly that BAM also stands for: Bida Ang Mamamayan. Of course, some wise aleck instead said BAM stands for: Bobo Ang Maniniwala. Another one went on a rant on my page, and I quote, “Oooooo wow plastic rimmed glasses makes you look like your grandpa and that automatically qualifies you to run for senate taking advantage of the “masses”… nice… *slow clap*” Excuse me, Ninoy is my uncle, not my grandfather. But on a serious note, these days, there seems to be a stronger, overwhelming voice that says, “Hindi mo kaya! It won’t work. It cannot be done.”


Whether it is a voice within us or the collective voice of critics, the unnerving voice of skepticism too often drowns out the voice of optimism and confidence that says, “Kaya natin. It can be done.” Holding on to this voice, especially through times of adversity, is what will make all the difference.

I wish to share with you the story of Nolie Estocado, a member of the multi-awarded and world-renowned microfinance institution, CARD-MRI. She was a daughter of a modest laundry woman and farmer who barely earned enough for day-to-day expenses. Even as she worked tirelessly for a handicrafts company, she never seemed to climb out of poverty. In 1983, she decided to start her own business, even as her friends and relatives warned her of what they saw as her “inevitable” failure. Nolie had a mighty inner voice and the immense will to fight through the skepticism. She overcame devastating challenges to build an enterprise that now hires up to 100 workers. Today, Nolie owns a house and lot and an apartment.

Nolie did not let the voice of skepticism drown out her inner voice and it paid off. This voice of optimism also lives in groups, collectives, and companies. Since 2008, the Jollibee Group Foundation has been running its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) that links small farmers directly to the supply chains of institutional clients like the Jollibee Food Corporation (JFC). One of the first approached were the Kalasag farmers of San Jose, Nueva Ecija. After going through agro-enterprise capacity building, the first challenge was to meet Jollibee’s quota of 60 metric tons of onions, which was a challenge the Kalasag Farmers failed.


Some questioned whether the farmers would ever produce enough onions to meet Jollibee’s benchmarks of quantity and quality. But like you, dear friends, the voice that says “Kaya natin!” was strong among the Kalasag Farmers. The voice of optimism, the confidence and belief in our countrymen was tenacious within the Jollibee Foundation. Trusting that the Kalasag Farmers could step up, Jollibee raised their quota to 197 metric tons for the next delivery. This voice of optimism and confidence fed the farmers’ diligence and perseverance. This time, they surpassed the allotted volume, delivering 235 metric tons of quality onions to Jollibee. Last year, Kalasag’s delivery reached 480 metric tons of onions. When I went there last year, I saw for myself how their quality of life improved — their houses are now made of concrete, their children now go to school regularly, some of them have graduated from college, and, most impressively, when it was time for us to go, everyone took out their smartphones for a selfie. Nolie, the Jollibee Foundation, and the Kalasag Farmers fostered their inner voice of optimism and confidence and overcame skepticism and defeatism to be rewarded with success. Within our office in the Senate, I would like to think that the voice of optimism is strong and alive as well. When I was newly elected as Senator two years ago, I was told, assuredly, that I shouldn’t expect to pass any laws in my first two years. But in our first year, we passed two laws: the Philippine Lemon Law and the Go Negosyo Act, the first inclusive growth and pro-poor legislation passed by the 16th Congress.

As we entered our second year, we were told it would be impossible for a neophyte senator to successfully pass a landmark bill, such as the Philippine Competition Act, through Congress. But just last month, the President signed into law the Philippine Competition Act and the Amendments to the Cabotage Law, two landmark policies authored and sponsored by our office. These laws have been struggling to pass through our legislative system for decades and you can bet that there were critics and naysayers that chuckled at the thought of a neophyte Senator passing these landmark bills. But our office of bright, idealistic, and passionate individuals did not listen to them. Instead, we collectively exclaimed, “Kaya natin ito para sa bayan!”



When we sift through stories of people, who have revolutionized systems and reformed longstanding practices, we find that there were always critics and there were always naysayers; but the inner voice of optimism triumphed.

If Bill Gates gave up after his previous business ventures failed, we may never have had “a computer in every home.” If Steve Jobs gave up whenever his ideas were shot down, we wouldn’t have “a computer in every pocket.” If Mahatma Gandhi gave up those countless times he was thrown in jail, we would never have known the power of non-violence. If Cory Aquino believed those who said a housewife could never be president, who knows if we would have freedom and democracy today.


They had the will and the grit to cut through the criticism and negative chatter to drive revolutions, drive reforms, and ultimately, create change. Here in the Philippines, we are witnessing unprecedented economic growth. From being the “Sick Man in Asia,” we are now called “Asia’s Bright Spot.” Once only known for our tremendous debt, we have now garnered investment grade ratings from the most reputable rating agencies. Once considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, we have since pushed for justice against the most powerful in all of the three branches of our government. We are now the second fastest growing economy in Asia, second only to China, and we expect to continue on this trajectory. All these developments are a testimony to Filipinos like you with a strong inner voice that says, “Kaya natin!”

Kaya nating umangat. Kaya nating tumino. Kaya nating umasenso.


I trust that the people in this room will continue to fight the tide, swim against the current, and listen to that voice inside that says we can make that difference! But of course, being Ateneans, we are called to do more – magis. Unfortunately, for those of us trained in the Jesuit tradition, heeding the call of our inner voice is not enough.

Our challenge is not just to listen to our inner voice, but also to be that voice for others. Be that voice of confidence for those that have known nothing but disappointment. Be that voice of motivation for those that are overcome with failure. Be that voice of inspiration for those that have heard nothing but criticism and reproach. We are called to speak up, for them, and not remain silent. We are called to silence the paralyzing voices of cynicism!

As we step out of this room and back into the dim world of critics, skeptics, and defeatists, let us become the loudest voices of inspiration. Kaya nating umangat! Kaya nating tumino! Kaya nating umasenso! Congratulations again to our dear graduates, the Ateneo Graduate School of Business Batch of 2015. Thank you very much. Maraming salamat po!


Sen. Bam Aquino’s Writing Team My sincerest gratitude to Niña, Janine and Fitz for helping me translate ideas and thoughts to words that move and inspire. - Bam Aquino



Niña Terol is a "communicator, connector, and changemaker" who has written speeches for top leaders in government and in the private sector. During her five-year stint in government, she served as communications head for Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, and used the power of words, images, and social networks to inspire constituencies to take positive action. She has also co-authored and edited books for the World Bank - Manila Office, the Asian Development Bank, the National Youth Commission, and the TAYO Awards Foundation, among others. A graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University and a certificate holder from the Asian Institute of Management and the European Journalism Institute in Washington, D.C. and Prague, Czech Republic, Niña now practices "corporate diplomacy" in the private sector. She is also a freelance writer, a part-time university lecturer, a public speaker and mentor for startups and creative enterprises, a runner, and a health and wellness enthusiast.

JANINE RAMIREZ Janine Ramirez is an enthusiastic and multifaceted communicator with experience in writing, marketing, and hosting. She has interviewed some of the top executives and influencers in the world to produce reports on countries such as Qatar, The U.A.E., Japan, and the Netherlands for Foreign Affairs magazine and The Japan Times newspaper. Janine is the current writer for Senator Bam Aquino, working to craft speeches, articles, and other communications materials to promote the team's legislative work and advocacies.

FITZGERALD CECILIO Fitzgerald Cecilio worked his way up through the editorial ranks – from editorial assistant (SunStar News Service), sports reporter/deskman (SunStar Manila/SunStar Bulilit), sports editor and news editor (RP Daily Expose) and editor in chief (Balitang Patas) -- in his 10-year print media career. He also worked as PR writer/strategist for several public relations companies, handling several big-name government and corporate clients. At present, he writes press releases and other articles for Senator Bam Aquino.



Janine Ramirez Katherine Lim Stephanie Del Castillo Paulo Borres Drea Estrellado Rhyan Matienzo Andre Dale Gueco


Ares C. Goyena Georgina P. Nava


Atty. Maria Cecilia B. Palines Paola Margarita Q. Deles Norman E. Cualteros Tiffany Zyra D. De Guzman Carole Kaye C. Malenab Army T. Padilla OPERATIONS

Vina Vivien G. Vargas Salamanca Eira P. Ferrer Benjamin I. Navea, Jr. John Carlo C. Tuaño Lorraine C. Castañeda Ma. Mercedes M. Fajardo Christian Thea Marie V. Murcia John Razil G. Paramio Anna C. Venturina Howell A. Abion Benjie S. Oliva SERVICE DESIGN

Karl Vendell M. Satinitigan Gonan Luke A. Buniel Aram Benson A. C. Fernandez Marco Camilo C. Javelosa Simon Javier A. Valencia Mona Celine Marie V. Yap



Maria Luisa L. Castañeda Keith S. Geamoga Lucio H. Matienzo Dominador M. Taganahan STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS

Ronnill Carlo S. Enriquez Thermina Ann L. Akram Maritoni M. Alvarez Karl Niccolo G. Atos Fitzgerald A. Cecilio Leah Katrina D. Del Rosario Ariel S. Peñaredondo Janine Marie C. Ramirez Aida Dina S. Javier Nina Rica Marie L. Terol ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE

Katherine A. Purugganan Lea C. Dela Cruz Rochel M. Ferrancullo Jeremy P. Javier Mary Ann B. Marino Mary Grace O. Palpallatoc Darwin A. Saclao Marinel A. Valdez Michelle G. Valeriano Geovanni B. Balgos Elpidio A. Cuevas, Jr. Richard B. Ty Domingo M. Dayro Arnel E. Badong

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