Pia wants ‘alcopops’ pulled out of store shelves

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has called the attention of distributors and sellers of flavored alcoholic drinks called “alcopops” for using unethical and illegal marketing schemes to entice young Filipinos to buy their products. 
Alcopops are flavored alcoholic beverages, a variety of which is packed in colorful foil pouches similar to juice beverages.
“I was very bothered when I found out about it. It’s packaged in a very colorful packaging that is very attractive to kids,” Cayetano stressed during the Senate Ways and Means Committee’s organizational meeting on Thursday (August 15).
During the hearing, the Department of Finance (DOF) presented an overview of the remaining tax packages under the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), among which is the proposed increase in the excise tax on alcohol products.
“I accepted the chairmanship of the Committee on Ways and Means precisely to be able to see through the delivery of public services that I’ve always dedicated my time and energy [to],” said Cayetano, who chairs the panel. 
The senator particularly expressed concern over the increasing consumption of alcopops among Filipinos. DOF figures show that Filipinos spent P69 million for alcopops in 2018, more than twice higher than the P30 million consumed in 2017. 
A particular brand of alcopops is currently being sold at P25 per 200 ml pack and has an alcohol content of 7 percent. Under the current tax rates, its total excise tax is only P1.30 per pack.  The DOF is proposing to increase its tax rate to P8.00 per pack. 
Cayetano for her part decried the easy access of young children to the alcoholic drinks, which are being sold alongside regular non-alcoholic drinks in groceries and even online. Apart from this, the colorful packaging also makes it appealing to minors. 
As such, the senator called for the products to be pulled out of store counters and for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the packaging, distribution, and sale of such alcoholic mix beverages. 
“We’re trying to sell a product that has 7 percent alcohol and is packaged to make it very attractive to children. It is unethical and unlawful,” she said. 
“Nananawagan ako sa mga matitino at maaayos na businessmen. Siguro naman sa sarili niyong anak, hindi niyo ipapainom ‘yan,” she further stressed.
The senator, who earlier fought for the passage of the Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012, noted that a similar issue was raised in the Senate about how the marketing schemes of certain tobacco companies enticed the youth to try cigarettes. #

Cayetano decried the easy access of young children to alcopops, which are being sold alongside regular non-alcoholic drinks in groceries and even online.

Pia: Time to re-study PH corporate tax rates

“The time is right to re-study our tax rates and incentives.”
Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Pia S. Cayetano said this on Thursday (August 15), following the panel’s organizational meeting to discuss the Duterte government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP).
Cayetano heads the Senate body tasked to tackle the remaining tax proposals under CTRP, including Package 2, which seeks to lower corporate income taxes (CIT) and rationalize incentives given to investors. 
“I do believe that the time is right to study the rationalization of our corporate holidays and various incentives so that we can prioritize the corporations that are really contributing to our sustainable economic growth,” she stressed.
The senator said the ultimate goal is to come up with a measure that would generate the needed funds for programs that will benefit Filipino families, especially those belonging to the vulnerable sectors. 
Furthermore, she said ensuring the people’s access to basic social services would allow the country to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which serves as a blueprint in achieving a more sustainable future for the country.
Package 2 of the CTRP proposes to lower the country’s CIT rate from 30 to 20 percent. It also seeks to rationalize incentives being given to companies investing in the country, to ensure that such advantages granted to them can generate domestic growth and employment for Filipinos.
“Very clear naman ang presentation ng Department of Finance (DOF). Compared to other countries in the region, the Philippines has a high taxation rate. The objective is to lower that rate to make us more competitive and so that we will have more jobs,” Cayetano stressed. 
“We should also not grant incentives to businesses that are not really contributing to our economy,” she further said.
On the other hand, the senator assured all concerned sectors that her committee would consider all positions, including those of her fellow senators, before finalizing the committee report and passing a tax reform bill in the Senate.  “We intend to have weekly hearings [to discuss all tax measures]. Kailangan mag-double time kaming lahat,” she said.
The Ways and Means committee is set to conduct its second hearing on Tuesday (August 20), which will primarily focus on Packages 2 and 2+ of the tax reform program.#

Senator Pia Cayetano: Lowering corporate income tax rates will make us more competitive in the ASEAN region.

Senate ways and means panel holds first hearing

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Pia S. Cayetano is set to lead the body’s organizational meeting on Thursday (August 15) to discuss an overview of the government’s tax reform measures.

The meeting will focus on the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), a primary component of the Duterte government’s strategy to achieve its growth targets under AmBisyon 2040, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Resource persons from different government agencies were invited, including officials from the Department of Finance (DOF); Department of Budget and Management (DBM); Department of Health (DOH); Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR);

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA); Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR); Bureau of Customs (BOC); Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF); National Tax Research Center (NTRC); Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB); and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). 

The department officials are expected to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, in relation to pursuing the remaining tax reforms under CTRP, following the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law in 2017.

The remaining packages include the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) bill, also known as Package 2, which seeks to lower the corporate income tax (CIT) and rationalize the tax incentives given to businesses in the country.

An additional component of the second package is the Sin Tax Reform bill (Package 2+), which seeks to impose higher excise taxes on alcohol products and e-cigarettes. 

Cayetano said Package 2+ is an important health measure that will not only discourage the consumption of unhealthy products among Filipinos, but will also help fund the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) Program.

The other CTRP proposals will also be generally discussed during the hearing, which include reforming the property valuation system (Package 3); and rationalizing capital income taxation (Package 4).

Furthermore, Cayetano said she will ask officials of the executive department to provide updates on the TRAIN Law to assess whether it has achieved its purpose of funding the government’s social services and infrastructure programs for the benefit of the poor. #

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Pia wants CCTVs in government offices

Public office is a public trust, and therefore should be transparent and accountable to the people at all times. 

Thus stressed Senator Pia S. Cayetano, who has filed a measure that will mandate the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) systems in all government offices throughout the country.

Called the ‘Surveillance Camera for Government Establishments Act’ (SBN 503), Cayetano said her proposal seeks to capture on video the day-to-day transactions of government offices, especially those rendering frontline services. 

She added that CCTVs will help deter corrupt practices, such as public officials asking for kickbacks or bribes to hasten government transactions. 

Further, SBN 503 is aligned with government’s commitments to attain Goal 16 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.

“Ridding our institutions of corruption means  better quality social services, which would help the country achieve all SDGs by 2030,” she noted.

The bill mandates surveillance cameras with audio recording technology to be installed and maintained within the premises of government offices, especially in the country’s immigration counters, land transportation offices, customs, internal revenue offices, permits offices, and land transportation offices.

The surveillance cameras shall always be switched on and recording on a 24/7 basis. Security employees or personnel shall be specifically tasked to monitor the video feeds.

Meanwhile, areas requiring privacy like restrooms, shower rooms, changing rooms, and the like are exempted from the installation of CCTV cameras. Concerned government offices shall also prohibit any use, viewing, disclosure, or publication of video recordings that are not within the mandate of the proposed measure.

The use of video records shall only be allowed in specific instances where they are needed: for the investigation or prosecution of a punishable offense; for a pending criminal or civil proceeding; for the avoidance of an imminent threat to persons or property; or to ascertain the identity of a criminal perpetrator.

The senator’s proposal is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge for Congress to help end corruption in government, a call which he reiterated during his fourth State of the Nation Address. 

The President earlier made the same suggestion to install CCTV cameras in government offices to monitor the activities of employees and help avoid corruption. #

Public offices under the public eye: Senator Pia Cayetano wants CCTVs installed in government offices to deter corrupt practices and to promote accountability and transparency.

Pia: Listen to experts on Dengvaxia

“Let’s listen to the experts.”

This is what Senator Pia S. Cayetano had to say about recent calls to revive the Dengvaxia vaccine following the Department of Health’s (DOH) declaration of a dengue epidemic throughout the country.

In a television interview on Friday (August 9), Cayetano said she agreed with President Rodrigo Duterte’s position to wait for the advice of local health experts before considering using the vaccine again in the Philippines. 

“This is a technical and scientific matter that should be left to the health experts. The President [already] said he’s listening to them, so let’s give this time,” she asserted.

“Sana po huwag muna tayong mag-comment… Kasi litong-lito na ang mga tao,” the senator appealed. 

Cayetano said while the issue on Dengvaxia’s revival is yet to be decided on by public health specialists, government officials should focus on discussing policies that will provide Filipino families better access to health services.  

“Sana po ang mga politicians, we just discuss policies. Our policy is we want to ensure the safety of the Filipino people. We want to ensure that they have access to [appropriate healthcare services]. The poor should also have access to whatever is available to the rich,” she stressed. 

In particular, Cayetano said proper attention should be given on addressing the problem of stunted growth among Filipino kids. 

The DOH stated that one in three children in the country remains stunted, a figure which has not improved in the last 15 years. 

“We must go back to the health basics. Those should be the concerns that we have. That’s part of our job, to ensure that the poorest of the poor are covered [by our health budget] and that these children become healthier,” she noted.

“We need to address this because this will help our children fight [dengue]. When they are malnourished or do not have the proper vaccinations, they are more susceptible to diseases,” she added. 

The principal author of the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act and several other public health laws, Cayetano has filed bills in the Senate seeking to improve health services for Filipinos, including measures that seek to provide one midwife in every barangay; establish specialty centers in DOH hospitals and medical centers; institute the utilization and promotion of Folic Acid food fortification and supplementation; and the Build, Build, Build counterpart program for public health facilities.

The senator’s initiatives are in line with the country’s commitment to the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3 of the SDGs, which urges nations to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. #

Senator Pia Cayetano interviewed on CNN’s The Source: “We must go back to the health basics.”

Pia backs better health promotion vs outbreaks

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Wednesday (August 7) urged the health department to take advantage of available resources to strengthen its information drive on the importance of government’s expanded program on immunization (EPI).

The senator said this during the first public hearing of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, and amid the Department of Health’s (DOH) declaration of a national dengue epidemic in the country. 

Cayetano lamented that the recent outbreak of diseases in the country was caused by the decline in people’s confidence in vaccines. 

“I had the opportunity to talk to barangay health workers all over the country. And the biggest problem [they mentioned] is that the mothers were scared. [They] refused to have their children vaccinated with measles and many other vaccines because of the [Dengvaxia scare],” she said.

The principal author and sponsor of the Mandatory Infants and Children Immunization Act (RA 10152), Cayetano stressed the need to properly inform Filipino families about the importance of vaccination in saving their children’s lives. 

To help restore people’s trust in vaccines, she urged the DOH and other concerned agencies to find more creative and aggressive ways in promoting the government’s immunization program. 

“We have a budget through the Sin Tax Reform Law (RA 10351), which we passed years ago for health promotion. I may not have seen it, but I would like to see really exciting and engaging infomercials, cartoons, or even dramas, that would help mothers appreciate the importance of vaccination,” Cayetano said.

“We passed the law precisely because we wanted to ensure that the budget moving forward would include [sufficient funds] for vaccinations… The budget for health promotions is there, let’s really make this engaging,” she added.

‘Improving children’s health increases chances vs dengue, other ailments’

Meanwhile, Cayetano said another critical part of preventing outbreaks like dengue fever in the country is for the government to improve Filipino children’s health and nutrition.

“At the end of the day it is the immune system [that needs to be strong]. The first thing we can do is to make sure our children are healthy enough,” the senator said. 

The DOH pointed out during the committee hearing that one in three Filipino children remains stunted. The department said this figure has not improved in the last 15 years.

“To bring up the level of health of every child is the first thing we can do to help them fight the [dengue] battle. That is our long-term solution. We can’t wipe out dengue in a day or in a year. But we can make our children healthier with more resources,” Cayetano stressed.

The senator then called for a strengthened implementation of the government’s programs on children’s health and nutrition, which she said also forms part of the country’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. 

The DOH for its part reminded the public to follow the “4S strategy” against dengue, which stands for “search and destroy” mosquito-breeding sites, “self-protection measures” like wearing covered clothes and using mosquito repellent, “seek early consultation”, and “support fogging/spraying” in hotspot areas. #

Senator Pia Cayetano: We can’t wipe out dengue in a day or in a year. But we can protect our children with more resources poured into health promotion.

Pia calls for stricter compliance with breastfeeding laws

In keeping up with this year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month celebration, Senator Pia S. Cayetano called on concerned government agencies to ensure the proper implementation of laws that promote breastfeeding practices among Filipino mothers.

“I am duty-bound to do my part in promoting breastfeeding, being the author of the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Law, together with the late Senator Ed Angara,” Cayetano said in her privilege speech on Tuesday (August 6).

The senator was referring to Republic Act No. 10028 or the “Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009,” which she championed during her first term as senator. The law requires the establishment of Lactation Stations in public places, government facilities, and private offices. 

Ten years into the passage of the measure, Cayetano stressed that more needs to be done to fully promote the practice of breastfeeding, especially among working mothers. She said agencies tasked to implement the law should step up to properly enforce it.

“My call to action is for the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that all sectors are compliant with RA 10028. We should direct all hospitals, health institutions, and even industries manufacturing and distributing formula milk, to follow regulations set by the law,” she said.

The senator also urged the labor department and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to strictly monitor if private companies and government offices are following requirements in setting up Lactation Stations and providing Lactation Breaks for nursing employees. 

“I have women who message me on social media [complaining] that their bosses are not giving them time off to breastfeed. But that is required by the law. We need the [concerned government agencies] to step up on this,” Cayetano said. 

“We also need all employers to be mindful of [our breastfeeding law] because otherwise, we would not set up the environment for successful breastfeeding,” she added. 

Furthermore, Cayetano called on local government units (LGUs) in the country to abide by the provisions of another law, which requires that breastfeeding areas be set up in evacuation centers in times of calamities.

“Breastfeeding stations must be present during disaster risk situations. It is required that every LGU provides the support that a breastfeeding mother and family needs,” she said. 

Republic Act 10821 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, which Cayetano sponsored, requires that transitional shelters provide mother- and child-friendly spaces, including maternal, newborn, and infant care rooms where moms can feed their babies in private.

Lastly, the senator reminded employers of provisions of Republic Act 11210 or the “Expanded Maternity Leave Law” on granting working mothers 105 days of paid maternity leave.  

“This law complements our breastfeeding measures, because one of the biggest deterrents to women continuing to breastfeed is when they go to work and get separated from their children,” said Cayetano, one of the bill’s principal authors in the 17th Congress. #

Senator Pia Cayetano delivers a privilege speech on breastfeeding month. Behind her in the VIP gallery is the senator’s mother, Sandra Schramm Cayetano, who supported the Taguig lawmaker in her struggles as a young breastfeeding mom. (Senate PRIB)

15-18 months reasonable time to pass tax reforms *

As chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, it is my job to present to my colleagues all the information they need to make an informed decision on the priority tax reforms of the Duterte government. 

I believe that the 15-18 months timetable projected  by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III will give our committee and my colleagues reasonable time to study and vote on the four priority measures*.

This would require regular hearings and consultations with our economic managers, tax experts, and all concerned sectors. The process would be tedious, but I have been preparing myself for the challenge of getting the job done. 

On the other hand, I don’t want to give my colleagues the impression that I am rushing them. Having said this, I am aware that the Department of Finance team has made themselves available for senators who would want to have access to relevant data and technical information. 

I have started consultations with the DOF, and I plan to hold an organizational meeting next week, now that the members of the Committee have been nominated and approved in plenary. #

*Statement in reaction to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III’s projection that it would take the House and Senate 15-18 months to deliberate and vote on four tax reform measures of the Duterte government for the 18th Congress:

  • Comprehensive Tax Reform Program Package 2: Comprehensive Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act
  • Package 2+
    Sin taxes for universal health care
  • Package 3
    Real property valuation reform
  • Package 4
    Passive income and financial intermediary tax
Ways and Means Committee Chair Sen. Pia Cayetano: I have been preparing myself for the challenge of getting the job done. 

Privilege speech on Breastfeeding Month*

Mr. President, I believe in the 12 years I was in the Senate, I think without miss, I delivered a speech on breastfeeding every August. And the reason for that is because August is Breastfeeding Month.

Thus, I am duty-bound to do my part in promoting breastfeeding, being the author of the Expanded Breastfeeding Law, together with the late Senator Ed Angara. 

But the question that I’d like my colleagues to ponder is this. Why do we need to promote something that is so natural that is a biological function of every mother? 

The reason for that is because over the decades, we have lost the breastfeeding culture, especially among mothers who work outside of the home, and there has also been a lot of misinformation on breast milk alternatives, which has resulted in sickness and death among our infants. 

A little bit of history, Mr. President. Obviously, women breastfed from the time of Adam and Eve. However, around the time of the Industrial Revolution, there was a major shift in the traditional woman’s life. They left their homes to join the workforce. Working hours and hours, half a day, and many of them living away from home. 

This caused the separation of the mother from her child, interfering with breastfeeding. The result was many babies fell sick and actually died. There were no studies to determine, to tell what were the acceptable alternatives to breast milk. Thus led to the invention of formula milk. 

And for a while, this was seen as a suitable alternative to breast milk for mothers. In fact, it became very lucrative because the demand of working mothers grew and for long, formula milk was even touted as the best food for babies. They would say that it makes babies grow stronger, grow taller, become smarter, etc. etc. 

Well over the decades, this was proven to be false. There is no formula or milk substitute that can provide the nutrients or immunological benefits that breast milk can provide. I repeat, there is no other product than the mother’s milk. Anyone else who says so is lying. 

I am now going to take the opportunity to greet a soon-to-be father, Former Congressman Samsam Gullas, who’s behind me, to remember that. Because the next part of my speech is about being a very supportive breastfeeding husband or father.

Anyway, the advertisements and commercials supporting formula milk led many mothers to believe that in fact they could give their [babies] this formula milk, and their babies would be healthier. The most affected always are the poorest of the poor, because they had very little money to spend, they would buy formula, and then they would even use it not within the prescribed manner of using it. They would dilute it with more water because they didn’t have the money to pay for all that formula milk. And thus, their baby would even get more malnourished. 

And during times of disaster, Mr. President, I’ll talk about this a little bit more. When formula milk was made available, without access to clean water, babies even got diarrhea and some would even die. So, this led to the passage of EO 51, which regulated the promotion and advertising of breast milk substitutes. That was before I became a senator, Mr. President. 

Meanwhile, I became a working mother myself, and from my own research, wala pa hong internet noon, so I bought books and I read on these books. I realized, I learned that breast milk was best for babies. I breastfed my three children, and indulge me, Mr. President, as I share this story. My mom, who happens to be in the audience today, she actually surprised me, I did not know that she would be here. So that’s my mom, over there. Mom, can you stand up? 

For those of you who were colleagues of my father, now you know where my brothers and I get most of our wisdom from. Our mother. Anyway, my breastfeeding story. My mom was my invaluable partner in my breastfeeding journey.  I lived in a two-bedroom house in Taguig with my brother, Alan, now the Speaker of the House. I lived in one room with my husband, and he lived in his other room by himself, as far as I know. 

Meanwhile, because I was breastfeeding night and day, my mom would come over and sleep in our house, and she would sleep in Alan’s room and get my baby at any hour of the night so that I could have a little but of sleep. And thus, Alan technically also witnessed and was a partner in my breastfeeding journey.

I had a very similar experience with my second child. It was not an easy experience in both cases, because I was a working mom, I had to stay up all night. I am not one of those mothers who had an oversupply of milk. I cried in the first two months of breastfeeding my baby. It was painful, I had no sleep, I went to work and had to budget my time, carrying what looked like a briefcase, but was actually a breast pump. 

Come my third child who is actually in the picture on the wall, my third child was Gabriel. He was born with a cleft lip and palate and he also had many other conditions brought about by his condition, which is called Trisomy 13. Thus, he could not really suck well and so I breastfed him through a tube that went all the way down to his stomach.

So that was my breastfeeding experience. Every mother has her own story to tell. 

Fast forward, I became a senator, and I was approached by many advocacy groups asking for help in promoting breastfeeding. And this gave me the opportunity to work with the late Senator Ed Angara, wherein we passed the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Law in 2009. 

This law required that we set up Lactation Stations in the workplaces, and in places frequented by women. So gentlemen, if you go with your wives to SM or other malls, please do me a favor and ensure that you see a breastfeeding center.  I mentioned SM because to be fair to SM, they even put up the lactation stations before it became a law. So… Yes, that is part of it. Senator Gordon pointed it out something that I will actually talk about. 

The law also required that we require doctors and health workers to talk about it, because surprisingly, we met a lot of mothers who said their doctors never talked about breastfeeding with them. Whether it was the OB-Gyne or the Pediatrician. I’d like to believe that since we passed this law, which has been 10 years, this has been improved.

It has also required that this be part of the Curriculum. What we want to see is that, when children read books, they see pictures of a breastfeeding family, and not a family that has a baby being fed through a bottle. Because we want to promote a breastfeeding culture.

Now to complement this law, and to also help in ensuring its implementation, I did my little share of talking to health workers, talking to mothers, visiting hospitals, encouraging LGUs to put up milk banks. And this is where the birthday celebrant, Senator Dick Gordon, comes in. Senator Dick Gordon is a proponent of blood-letting. I am a proponent of milk-letting. It is very similar… and let me get there. He is also a proponent of milk… breast milk promotion, because as the Red Cross chair, they require that our disaster centers are breastfeeding-friendly. 

So for those who don’t know what a breast milk… a milk bank is, what a milk-letting activity is, it’s similar to blood-letting where you ask people to volunteer. In this case, these are mothers who are actually breastfeeding and have milk to share. And they pump their milk and they donate it. And it will be put in a storage for mothers who would be needing it for their babies in the future. 

Fast forward, was the Maternity Leave Law, which we all passed just recently. And this law complements the breastfeeding laws that I mentioned because one of the biggest deterrents to women continuing to breastfeed is the fact that they go to work and they’re separated from their children. 

So, for those gentlemen here who will have women in your workforce who will be breastfeeding, please, not I encourage you, but I remind you that it is the law to allow them to have time to breastfeed. Sadly, our law only provides for 40 minutes, which is actually not enough, for those gentlemen. I know Joel was a supportive breastfeeding husband, so was Sonny. I don’t know the rest, but whoever else was, thank you for that. 

You know that 40 minutes in a workday is not enough to breastfeed. So I encourage you to be even more supportive than that. My staff who do not know that I am about to call their attention. My Chief of Staff, DG, who disappeared. My Personal Assistant, Claire. They both breastfed their babies while working for me.

On the Senate Lactation Room
When we first launched it, we had a tarpaulin, because when hearings start, we were very pleasantly surprised that visitors, our resource persons who would come, were very happy that we have a Lactation Room that they can visit. So let’s make them know that by putting up the proper signage so that they know that the Senate is breastfeeding-friendly. 

And I also had the privilege, Mr. President, of setting up the same in the House of Representatives when I was there over the last three years. 

So my call to action,  Mr. President is simply that DOH ensures that all the sectors are compliant, hospitals, health institutions, and even the industries that manufacture and distribute milk formula, that they follow our rules and regulations; the Department of Labor, that they ensure that the private companies are following the requirement that Lactation Stations are set up within their offices…

I have women who message me on Twitter and Instagram that their boss is not giving them time off to breastfeed, so that is required by the law. So we need DOLE to step up on this. The Civil Service, to ensure also that our government agencies are also compliant. We should take the lead. 

I’d like to point out that the Senate is very small compared to the House of Representatives. When I went there, that was one of the first things that I did, to check where the Lactation Station is. And in a setup like that, although the law does not dictate how many meters away that Lactation Station should be from a woman’s office, the fact that the House of Representatives is an entire complex, Mr. President, to walk from your office to the next building would already use up the remaining minutes you have to breastfeed. 

So we need employers to be mindful of this, because otherwise, we do not set up the environment for successful breastfeeding.

My final call to action is for the LGUs. as our colleague, Senator Gordon, said, breastfeeding must also be present in disaster risk situations, in evacuation stations, the picture I have there is actually my sister-in-law, Fille, who breastfed three of her babies, she’s there to give support to the evacuation center that was set up by my brother, Mayor Lino Cayetano. And again, this was compliant with the law and it is required that every LGU provides the support that a breastfeeding mother and family needs. 

So I end my privilege speech. Thank you so much, Mr. President, to our colleagues, who listened to this. For those who have been here for 12 years, for listening to me on this topic, for 12 years. Thank you very much. #

*Privilege speech delivered on the Senate session on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

Senator Pia: “We need employers to be mindful of [the law allowing paid lactation breaks for nursing employees], because otherwise, we do not set up the environment for successful breastfeeding.”

Appeal to reduce Senate’s paper consumption*

Senator Cayetano: Dear colleagues, I’d like to commend everyone. There is no plastic bottle on our tables today. Congratulations, I know that’s an effort. We all have the right to drink water, of course, or whatever beverage of choice. But you make an effort because of our collective desire to use less plastic. 

So kung kulang pa yung binigay ko sa inyong bamboo bottle, hingi kayo kay Ralph sa next batch, para mauwi niyo, para magamit niyo.

Anyway, so my manifestation, Mr. President, is on a similar note. In 2010, my office, along with an NGO called Mother Earth, initiated with the Senate recycling, reusing, and the establishment of an MRF. An MRF is a Material Recovery Facility. 

And, to cut a very interesting story short, we were able to cut in half our garbage in one month. This is around 2011. That is the MRF that we put up. [Points to a photo of the Senate MRF flashed on the monitor] So they collect, they segregate, etc. and the garbage delivery went down from once a week to every other week, which is half. 

But this information I have was in, 2011, so that was the 15th Congress, if I am not mistaken. We don’t have new data and so my request would be for the Secretariat to update us on how much garbage we [generate] and what are we doing to recycle it.

To give our colleagues an idea of how much paper we are currently using, I have asked my staff to put together [gestures to show pile of paper consisting of agenda, order of business, journal and other documents issued per senator per wek] – this is what we consumed in one week. This is… each pile is one senator. This is not even what you consume in your office, with the papers. But this is what the Secretariat produces for us. This is the reference of business, the agenda, the journal.

So on that note – thank you – My proposal the last time was that, it’s a personal choice to decide, if there are things that you can forego. Like for example, in my case, I am willing to look at the agenda on my laptop, I am willing to look at the reference of business on my laptop as well. I am old-school so a lot of the bills, I want to put it on hand-written notes, so there are some things that I can’t forego. But it’s just that we talk about it and we decide for ourselves and collectively what we are willing to do.

We need to lead by example, Mr. President. And that’s why I bring it up to all of us. Just for the body’s information, that was 90 pages per senator, produced by the Secretariat for us, not even counting whatever you produce in your own offices. 

So that is my manifestation, Mr. President, that the Secretariat update us on the status of our MRF, the status of the collection. By the way, our garbage collection bill went down, because we only had to have it collected every other week. But again, this is outdated information because this is a few years back.

So may we ask the Secretariat to update us in the next few days of weeks? [Senate President Sotto responds] 

SP Sotto: I am informed that the Secretariat will be ready to inform us on this matter by tomorrow.

Senator Cayetano: Thank you. And on that note, Mr. President, I also suggest that perhaps we can also have our own Senate app, because you can easily do a PDF of the reference of business, but it’s not always the easiest way to make your notes or to comment. But if we have our own app, exclusively for the senators, the staff, and the Secretariat, you can actually use something as basic as Google Documents wherein you can put your comments to share with your staff. Something again that I would just like the Secretariat and the leadership to consider.

Thank you very much, Mr. President!

*Manifestation delivered at the Senate session on Monday, August 5, 2019.

Senator Pia Cayetano demonstrates how much paper is distributed per senator in a week, as she appealed to her colleagues to consider going digital to help reduce the volume of paper waste generated by the Senate.