Pinay In Action: PIA S. CAYETANO

For 18 years as a lawmaker, Senator Pia S. Cayetano has built a track record for getting the tough job done.

She sponsored the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the government’s first response when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. She also co-sponsored the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act and co-authored the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act.

Senator Pia shepherded the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) as chairperson of the Committee on Ways and Means. A game changer and a long awaited reform that took 25 years, CREATE gave businesses a lifeline by substantially reducing corporate income tax rates. She also worked to increase government revenues through the law establishing the tax regime for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations.

The Sin Tax Reform Laws of 2012 and 2020 were among her contributions to strengthen public health while curbing harmful vices.

Drawing from her own experiences as an adoptive mom, she worked to give children without parental care a loving home. She co-authored and co-sponsored the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act, and the Foundling Recognition and Protection Bill as part of a comprehensive review of alternative child care laws that started with the Foster Care Act, which she sponsored in 2009.

She sponsored the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, a law safeguarding the fundamental rights of children before, during, and after disasters. She also authored and sponsored the law mandating basic immunization for infants and young kids.

In the 18th Congress, Senator Pia worked extensively on the Inclusive Education Bill, which she authored, and the Excellence in Teacher Education Bill, which she co-authored. These measures follow a long line of laws on quality and accessible learning which she championed as the 16th Congress’ chairperson of the Committee on Education, including the Ladderized Education Act, Open Distance Learning Act, Open High School System Act, and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act. Most recently, a landmark measure which she authored and co-sponsored, An Act Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education, was signed into law.

As senior vice chairperson of the Finance Committee, she pushed for higher allocations for the DOH, DepEd, CHED, and 117 State Universities and Colleges, including the budget for the recently passed Doktor para sa Bayan Act.

Senator Pia sponsored the law clarifying the tax regime for private schools and entitling these institutions to preferential tax rates under CREATE in recognition of their role as government’s partners in education.

She also led the passage of numerous Protected Area laws and the Renewable Energy Act as chairperson of the Environment Committee in the 14th Congress.

She currently heads the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking which seeks to incorporate strategic foresight in governance. One of the committee’s outputs is the Safe Pathways Network Bill which advocates for more carless roads. The committee also held hearings and worked on the futures of education, health, and sports to explore prospects and solutions for these sectors.

Recently, she sponsored the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Bill, which seeks to equip the country better for future health emergencies.

She has supported women by acknowledging their dual role as mothers and as active members of the workforce. Among the laws she championed are the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law, Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act, Magna Carta of Women, and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, for which she was recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and cited in Melinda Gates’ highly acclaimed book, ‘Moment of Lift’ (2019).

Senator Pia actively supports athletes’ rights and welfare. A former student-athlete and national volleyball player, she authored and sponsored the Student-Athletes Protection Act which ended unjust residency rules imposed on varsity athletes. She is also a principal author of the law establishing the National Academy of Sports.

Senator Pia chairs the Asia and Pacific Regional Chapter of UNITE, a global network of parliamentarians committed to end infectious diseases. In 2008, she was the first Asian to be elected president of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

She promotes health and wellness through Pinay In Action and helps poor and differently abled children through Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation. In 2019, she started Pilipinas In Action to help bring aid to sectors worst hit by the pandemic.

Senator Pia embodies what it means to be a Pinay In Action and a woman leader for our times.

Updated: March 17, 2022