Pia welcomes new law speeding up adoption process

“A loving and caring family for every abandoned, neglected, and orphaned child could soon become a reality.”

Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano, as she welcomed the signing of the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act, or Republic Act No. 11642.

“The new law simplifies the country’s domestic adoption system by making it administrative in nature, and streamlining the processes and requirements,” said Cayetano, an adoptive mother, and a co-author and co-sponsor of the measure.

She noted that the law will establish the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), an agency under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that will exclusively handle all adoption, foster care, and other alternative child care cases, and will have its own personnel.

The establishment of the NACC and the streamlining of the adoption procedures were among the major amendments introduced by Cayetano to the final version of the measure.

“These reforms seek to speed up adoption proceedings while ensuring the  best interest of the child. I know this law will save so many parents and children from the heartbreak of waiting and waiting for their adoption to be final,” she stressed.

“I started work on placing abandoned and neglected children in temporary homes over 10 years ago, which resulted in the passage of the Foster Care Act (RA 10165). This Domestic Adoption law which I have actively worked on for over five years completes the structural reforms that are needed to ensure that every child in need can have a home to call his/her own,” noted the senator.

“I too am an adoptive parent blessed to be raising my son who is now 11. I  know of so many heartbreaking stories where young children  have become  teenagers before they got adopted, if at all, due to the bureaucracy, insufficient personnel handling adoption cases, and lengthy court proceedings,” she explained.

“I can now say that we have a comprehensive domestic administrative adoption law. I have renewed hope that prospective  parents won’t have to wait too long to bring a child into their loving arms, and for children without parents to find their forever family sooner,” concluded Cayetano. #

Senator Pia Cayetano, an adoptive mom herself, says RA 11462 will hasten the adoption process, while ensuring the best interest of homeless children.
“I started work on placing abandoned and neglected children in temporary homes over 10 years ago, which resulted in the passage of the Foster Care Act (RA 10165). This Domestic Adoption law which I have actively worked on for over five years completes the structural reforms that are needed to ensure that every child in need can have a home to call his/her own.”

Private schools deserve full support as our partners in education

RA 11635 brings much-needed reprieve to private schools

Statement of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Principal sponsor, RA 11635

Private schools are the government’s partners in education. In this time of pandemic, they need as much assistance as they can get to continue delivering quality education to Filipino learners.

Thus, the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11635 comes as a welcome development for them amid the uncertainties of the times, as rising COVID-19 cases forced us to restrict face-to-face classes to start the New Year.

This timely measure, which I sponsored, amends Section 27(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code, to clearly indicate that all proprietary educational institutions, whether for profit or non profit, shall enjoy the 10% preferential tax rate.

This shall also allow them to be covered by a provision under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which reduced the tax rate of such institutions from 10% to 1% starting July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

With this measure, private schools would be given much-needed reprieve to cope with the continuing challenges caused by the pandemic, starting with their own financial viability and sustainability.

It must be emphasized that this law resulted from continuous dialogue and cooperation among the various stakeholders. We worked with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the private schools, led by the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA), to root out the issues and find a common solution.

We need to continue working with our partners in education for long-term solutions in terms of policy and budget, using strategic foresight and futures thinking to help this sector recover from the pandemic, and beyond.

This is part of our country’s commitment under Sustainable Development Goal No. 4, which is  to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all by year 2030. #

The new law will allow all private schools to be covered by a provision under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which reduced the tax rate of such institutions from 10% to 1% starting July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

On PATAFA’s decision to expel EJ Obiena from the national team

Statement of Senator Pia S. Cayetano 
Former National Athlete

On PATAFA’s decision to drop top pole vaulter EJ Obiena from the national pool

I am beyond disgusted with the latest actions and statements of PATAFA’s Philip Juico who is single-handedly killing the spirit of Filipino athletes.

What should have been a feel good movie with EJ ending the year as the top Asian pole vaulter and ranked  #3 in the world, has turned into a horror movie where a vindictive Juico is attacking and attacking EJ.

Despite the underhanded treatment EJ received from PATAFA, even after rendering a full accounting of his training funds and his coach’s confirmation acknowledging receipt of his full payment, it must be noted that EJ himself has said that he was willing to join the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) mediation process after the POC has concluded its own investigation.

I expect PSC to step up and put an end to all this now. During the Senate’s budget deliberations last December, PSC Chair William Ramirez committed to step in and act decisively. The PSC even warned in a subsequent statement that it would be constrained to sanction PATAFA should the mediation process fail. #

Philippine Sports
Senator Pia Cayetano expresses support for pole vaulter EJ Obiena and calls on the Philippine Sports Commission to act swiftly to resolve the conflict between Obiena and PATAFA.

Pia: Bill clarifies private schools’ tax rates under CREATE

Senator Pia S. Cayetano welcomed the passage of Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2407 on third and final reading on Monday (September 27), saying that the measure will clarify that all private schools – both ‘non-profit’ and ‘for profit’ – are entitled to the 1 percent preferential tax rate under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, which was enacted last March.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair and sponsor of SBN 2407, Cayetano acknowledged private school institutions as the government’s “partners in delivering quality education for the youth, and in molding them to become changemakers and responsible leaders of the future.”

“This partnership is even more crucial today as our nation struggles with COVID-19, which has disrupted educational systems and the formal learning of our current generation of students,” Cayetano added.

She noted that many private schools are in a critical state, citing data from the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) showing that enrollment among its member-schools has declined to 60 percent this school year, compared to 2020.

It may be recalled that in her sponsorship speech, Cayetano recounted the circumstances that led to the filing and approval of the tax relief measure:

•The passage of CREATE (RA 11534) on March 26, 2021, brought reprieve to proprietary educational institutions by lowering their 10% preferential tax rate to 1% for a period of 3 years, specifically from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023.

•On April 8, 2021,  the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued Revenue Regulation No. (RR) 5-2021, which specifically stated that only ‘non-profit’ proprietary educational institutions can avail of the preferential tax rate under CREATE – basing its policy on previous Supreme Court rulings.

•This then prompted the filing of SBN 2272 by Senator Sonny Angara, which sought to clarify the issue. In the hearing held by the ways and means panel on June 30, 2021, senators asked the Department of Finance (DOF) to suspend implementation of BIR’s RR 5-2021 to avert its impending ill-effects on “for profit” private schools.

•In response, DOF, through a letter to the Senate dated July 21, 2021, gave its commitment to issue the appropriate revenue regulations suspending the relevant provisions of BIR’s RR 5-2021.

•As a result, the BIR issued RR 14-2021, which suspended the inclusion of “for-profit” private schools in the regime of regular income tax.

Cayetano said that it is important to give the public a fair and full picture of the circumstances that led to the filing of Sen. Angara’s SBN 2272, which was substituted by SBN 2407 under her committee report.

She concluded by saying that SBN 2407 will help the Philippines keep track with its goal to ensure quality education, which is part of the government’s commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4.

“This is the power of dialogue at work, involving all stakeholders,” said Cayetano, who also chairs the Senate Committee on the SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.#

Senate session hall
Senator Pia Cayetano: SBN 2407 will clarify that all private schools are entitled to the 1 % preferential tax rate under CREATE

Pia seeks targeted subsidies for home and micro businesses

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for targeted subsidies to help families and individuals who would like to start or expand their home-based and micro businesses as a means of livelihood to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senator raised the concept of subsidies targeted specifically for women and small  entrepreneurs during the Senate finance committee hearing on the proposed 2022 budget of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

She noted that women’s work at home and their contribution to the economy have long been recognized as “unpaid work.”  This situation has become even more pronounced as women who previously may have had part-time or full-time work outside the home have either lost their jobs, or been forced to stay home because of the pandemic.

“Many mothers have had to stay home to become ‘full time’ teachers to their children who are studying from home. Even older sisters and young women with nieces and nephews are tasked to look after the younger children in the household instead of working outside the home,” she pointed out.

“The good news is, the entrepreneurial spirit of Filipinos finds a way to shine.” She expressed delight in  seeing  home-based and online businesses  flourishing in the last two years, ranging from food products to clothing, accessories, and services.

“I am sure everyone [in this hearing]  has  a daughter or ‘pamangkin’  or knows of a teen or young adult who has started a business at home during the pandemic. All of us have exchanged these goodies that we bought from these (budding) entrepreneurs who are making all these brownies, cupcakes, everything,” said the senator.

These opportunities are not available to all, however. The senator cited the situation of young women from lower income families who have entrepreneurial skills, but lack access to seed or startup capital.

“Girls that come from the middle or upper economic classes have easier access to capital and have the opportunity to start a business. But those from the lower income group don’t have that kind of access,” noted Cayetano, who is also the principal author of the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act 9710), the landmark law passed in 2009 advancing the rights and welfare of Filipino women.

“They should have access to capital. So that’s where Secretary Karl, I’d like you to consider this like a targeted and proactive stimulus package,” she told NEDA Secretary Karl Chua, who attended the online hearing.

Giving direct assistance to women-led micro and small businesses is practiced in many developing countries and forms part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 or Gender Equality, according to the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on the SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
We should help Filipino entrepreneurship rise from this pandemic. – Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Pia: It’s high time we strengthen the law to end child rape

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Monday welcomed the approval on third and final reading of Senate Bill No. 2332, which seeks to amend the Anti-Rape Law to raise the minimum age of sexual consent from the current 12 years old to 16.

“This amendment is long overdue. It’s high time we strengthen the law to end child rape,” said the senator, who is a co-sponsor of the measure.

At the same time, Cayetano lauded the inclusion of the so-called ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘close-in-age’ clause in the approved bill, which will protect the rights of young people who get involved in consensual and non-abusive sexual relations.

“The Romeo and Juliet clause is integral to the bill.” Quoting a statement from the Child Rights Network, the senator explained that the Romeo and Juliet clause “ensures that the law on statutory rape does not criminalize consensual and non-abusive sex between people close in age. This protects young people from being labeled as sex offenders” if they do have consensual sex with their peers.  This position is also supported by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and backed by various civil society groups. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
Senator Pia S. Cayetano lauds the passage of SBN 2332, which amends the Anti-Rape Law to raise the minimum age of sexual consent from 12 years old to 16.

Uphold FDA’s regulatory authority over vapes, heated tobacco products

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has called on her colleagues in the Senate to uphold the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)‘s jurisdiction to regulate vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) in the market, saying that the agency’s mandate to protect public health is firmly established in two laws previously passed by Congress in 2020 and 2009.

In her interpellation on the controversial Vape Bill (SBN 2239) last week, Cayetano questioned the bill’s objective to transfer the government’s regulatory power over vapes and HTPs from the FDA to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Explaining the coverage of health products under the FDA’s jurisdiction, Cayetano noted that the FDA Law of 2009 included “health-related devices,” which refer to “any device not used in health care, but has been determined by the FDA to adversely affect the health of the people.” (Section 9-C of RA 9711).

“I think it is quite clear that in his previous statements, when his honor says that this product [e-cigarette] is ‘less harmful,’ then that is already an admission that it is a product that has health effects. Because why would you even mention the words ‘more harmful.. less harmful,’ if it’s not a health-related product?” Cayetano asked the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ralph Recto.

“Moreover, if lotions, creams, and perfumes applied on the skin and other cosmetic products that come in contact with external parts of the body are regulated by the FDA, then what more for e-cigarettes, which are inhaled  by its users, sending harmful chemicals to the lungs and internal organs?” the senator further asked.

She also noted that under the Sin Tax Law of 2020, the FDA is clearly mandated to regulate, consistent with evolving medical and scientific studies, “the manufacture, importation, sale, packaging, advertising, and distribution of vapor products and heated tobacco products,” including the “sale to nonsmokers or persons below twenty-one (21) years old.” (Sections 144-B and 144-C of RA 11467)

In addition, she said that the FDA Law declared as policy that the State shall “protect and promote the right to health of the Filipino people,” and “help establish and maintain an effective health product regulatory system based on the country’s health needs and problems.” (Sections 3-A and 3-B of RA 9711)

The senator pointed out that Sen. Recto’s statements that e-cigarettes are ‘less harmful’ than conventional cigarettes amounted to a health claim, and an admission that these products are indeed ‘health-related devices’  that clearly fall under FDA’s jurisdiction as mandated by RA 9711.

Cayetano’s interpellation on SB 2239 is scheduled to resume this week.#

Senator Pia Cayetano
Solid legal ground: Senator Pia Cayetano says that FDA is mandated to regulate e-cigarettes by virtue of RA 11467 and RA 9711.

Pia: repeal ‘forgiveness clause’ in Anti-Rape Law

Senator Pia S. Cayetano wants to repeal an ‘antiquated’ provision in the Revised Penal Code (RPC), which was upheld by the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, allowing a rapist to be exonerated from the crime of rape by marrying his victim.

Article 266-C of the RPC, the senator noted, also extinguishes the crime of rape when the legal husband is the offender and his wife, as the offended party, subsequently forgives him.

Cayetano, a lawyer and women’s advocate, took the opportunity to manifest the subject last week during the Senate’s plenary deliberations on SBN 2332, the bill raising the minimum age of sexual consent from the current 12 years old to 16.

The senator emphasized to her colleagues the urgency of repealing Article 266-C of the RPC, which is commonly referred to as the ‘forgiveness clause’ in the Anti-Rape Law.

“We do have an antiquated law which recognizes ‘forgiveness’ as a ground to invalidate a rape case. This is one of the provisions that many [women’s] advocates want to be repealed. I am bringing it to the attention of the body so that we can once and for all address this issue,” she underscored.

The senator from Taguig City and Pateros explained that tP

Responding to Cayetano’s manifestation, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a former justice secretary, agreed that the matter deserves to be studied and deliberated on by the chamber.

For his part, Senate President Vicente Sotto III backed Cayetano’s stand and committed to co-sponsor such a measure if it would be introduced in the Senate.

To recall, Cayetano, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women, and Family Relations in the 15th Congress, spearheaded the review of gender discriminatory laws for the purpose of promoting gender equality. #

Senate session hall
Arguing for the repeal of the antiquated ‘forgiveness clause’ in the Anti-Rape Law, Senator Pia S. Cayetano explained that there are cases where a rape complainant is forced to marry her perpetrator to avoid shame and scandal.

Pia: POGO Tax Law to raise funds for healthcare, SDGs

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today described Republic Act No. 11590 – the newly signed law taxing Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) – as a ‘major win’ for the country because it will generate billions in additional funds for public services, but without burdening Filipino taxpayers.

“For years, many of these POGOS have been operating without paying the proper taxes. By virtue of this law that I sponsored and defended, they will now be taxed,” said Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and principal sponsor of the POGO Tax Law.

“POGOS are offshore gaming operators. That means only foreigners abroad may gamble in POGOs. So the taxes do not come from Filipinos, or even foreigners residing in the country,” she explained.

“I’d rather tax the POGOs than see a proliferation of gambling in the country, which sadly seems to be the direction that our colleagues in the House are taking with the recent passage of a bill allowing online gambling,” she emphasized.

She further noted that under the new law, 60 percent of total revenues from the gaming tax imposed on offshore gaming companies will be earmarked by the government, and allocated for the following purposes:

•60% for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act;
•20% for the Health Facilities Enhancement Fund; and
•20% for the attainment of the SDGs, provided that the specific SDG targets shall be determined by NEDA.

“We made sure that the revenues from POGOs will be earmarked for much-needed health programs amid the pandemic, and contribute to the attainment of our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” added the senator, who also chairs the Senate Committee on the SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.

Based on estimates of the Department of Finance (DOF), Cayetano said RA 11590 is projected to generate P22.9 billion in 2022, through the 5 percent gaming tax imposed on the gross gaming revenues of POGO licensees.

In addition, the government is expected to collect P9.2 billion in 2022 from the 25 percent final withholding tax imposed on foreign POGO employees.

Combined, she said the total projected revenues from RA 11590 would amount to P32.1 billion in 2022. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
Senator Pia Cayetano at the Senate session hall

Sponsorship of the bill clarifying the tax rate for all private schools

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chairperson, Committee on Ways and Means

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, today, I rise to sponsor and seek your support for the passage of Senate Bill No. 2407, under Committee Report No. 311, which amends Section 27(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code.

Not long ago, this chamber passed the CREATE Act, a measure that serves as our fulfillment to the overdue reforms in the country’s corporate income tax and fiscal incentives system.

In particular, CREATE provided reprieve to proprietary educational institutions in the country by lowering their 10% preferential tax rate to 1% for a period of 3 years, specifically from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023.

This was made in keeping with our desire to provide support for our education sector, which has been severely burdened by the disruptions caused by the pandemic. This sector continues to need as much assistance and resources as it can get in order to continue delivering quality education to Filipino learners.

Meanwhile, on 8 April 2021,  the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued Revenue Regulation No. 5-2021, which specifically stated that only non-profit proprietary educational institutions can avail of the preferential tax rate under CREATE, basing this on  Supreme Court decisions.

This then prompted the filing of Senate Bill No. 2272 by Senator Sonny Angara, which sought to clarify the issue. During our hearing held on June 30, 2021,  my fellow legislators and I asked the DOF to suspend the implementation of the BIR Revenue Regulation in order to avoid its impending ill effects on the “for profit” private schools.

In response, the DOF, through its letter to the Senate dated 21 July 2021, gave its commitment that in order to ease the burden of taxation among proprietary educational institutions, they shall issue the appropriate revenue regulations suspending the relevant provisions of BIR’s Revenue Regulation No. 5-2021.

As a result, the Bureau issued Revenue Regulation No. 14-2021, which suspended the inclusion of “for-profit” private schools in the regime of regular income tax.

So this Committee Report effectively clarifies that the preferential tax rate of 10% under the NIRC, which was lowered by the CREATE Act to 1% from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023, applies to all private schools – putting an end to the debates as to whether  “for-profit” private schools were covered or not.

Private schools are the government’s partners in education. This partnership is even more crucial today, as our nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted our educational systems and the formal learning of our current generation of students.

Thank you Mr. President. #