Budget for NACC assured

Manifestation on the DSWD budget

Thank you, Mr. President, I would also like to thank the Deputy Minority Floor Leader for allowing me to take the floor and just make this very short manifestation.

Good evening, Secretary and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) team here. A short manifestation, I would like to thank the DSWD Sec. for pursuing what we discussed in the hearing on the allocation of the budget of NACC (National Authority on Child Care), which was lodged with DSWD.

Salamat kasi matutupad naman nila [NACC] ang kanilang mandato. And although still attached to [DSWD], I expect Mr. Secretary that your team will be able to give them your full support, kasi ‘baby agency’ pa lang naman yan di ba? So it is only natural hindi ho ba na alagaan din kung ano ang magagawa dahil there’s much that we can achieve through this attached agency by way of finding homes for children in need, not just permanent homes by way of adoption, but temporary homes by way of foster care.

So yun lang, Madame Chair, yung iba madali naman ma-discuss, the Sec. has given his commitment that he will work with us. On that note, we thank the Sec. and his team, and the Chairperson. Thank you, Mr. President. #

Related story: Pia backs funding for alternative child care https://piacayetano.ph/pia-backs-funding-for-alternative-child-care/

 

Pia urges equal opportunities for women

Women should be given equal opportunities in leadership and decision making, including in the military establishment.

This was underscored by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in her interpellation of the proposed budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), held around midnight of Friday (November 11).

Opening her interpellation, Cayetano inquired whether the women military officers who were seated in the session hall audience gallery were part of the DND leadership at the VIP gallery assisting the defense budget’s sponsor, Senator Ronald Bato Dela Rosa.

“Mr President, I direct my question to the Chairman [Sen Dela Rosa]. I suppose the people beside you, except for the women here, and behind here [referring to women officers seated in the gallery], are all part of the leadership of DND, correct? Is there any woman in the leadership group?” she asked.

To which the sponsor, Senator Dela Rosa, replied that it is the protocol of the military estabishment to to take care of women, and to not place them at the ‘frontline.’

“That is a gentlemanly answer. Pero that can be a form of discrimination because, [in] your desire to protect [women], you may not be giving them the opportunities to advance in their career to prove themselves. I do not put any malice there, I believe you,” Cayetano said.

“I will share with you the same comments I make when I talk to a governor or a mayor, and I ask about gender equality and women representation in their political parties, and they say to me, ‘ay ito ma’am, may isa kaming babae.’ [But] we are not talking about one – we’re talking about serious representation,” she stressed.

In response, Dela Rosa noted that the military’s chief nurse and surgeon-general are both women one-star generals. He also shared that female cadets now comprise 25 percent in the Philppine Military Academy (PMA).

“And maybe starting next year or the following year, you will see more female officers holding sensitive positions. Dahil yung mga female graduate na babae are already full colonels. And so they will be holding command positions, like brigade commander. We have battalion commanders who are female,” Dela Rosa explained.

Cayetano acknowledged the information shared by Dela Rosa: With the background you gave me, I am quite confident. And to emphasize my point, that is Sustainable Development Goal 5. Target 5.5 states that we ‘ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunity for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.'”

“The [military service] used to be a man’s world, but it’s a world where we know we will do better if women have equal representation,” she concluded. #

Pia slams vape promo event disguised as a scientific forum

Pia slams vape promo event disguised as a scientific forum
Highlights from the privilege speech of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
November 8, 2022

Mr. President, every day, there are different articles on the harmful effects of vape products and the danger it poses to users, especially the youth.

May I direct our colleagues to the screen to view some headlines and I will read some [reads news headlines from the plenary monitor]:

•”Vaping has similar impact on the heart as cigarettes, studies warn”;

•”Is vaping really better than smoking? Experts warn vapers [are] exposed to more nicotine”; [and]

•”Vaping adults displayed worrisome changes in blood pressure and heart function, studies find”.

So ayan, for our friends, colleagues, Filipinos who are engaging in vaping, e-cigarettes, may mga health warning talaga ang mga expert. Araw-araw, nakakakita ako n’yan sa news. And yet here we are your honors…the reason for this privilege speech.

Last Thursday, November 3, Philip Morris International… I think they are now calling themselves PMI… issued various invitations to Filipino doctors to attend what they described as a scientific forum, wherein foreign health “experts” discussed vape products as a tobacco harm reduction tool.

Mr. President, I see this as an underhanded move by the tobacco and vape industry to unduly influence members of our medical community to be more accepting of their products, despite the known ill effects of vaping on public health, especially the youth.

What does our law say? The recently passed Vape Law, in Section 12… specifically says that no vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, or novel tobacco products shall have medicinal or therapeutic claims on its marketing material or packaging, unless such claim is approved by the FDA, pursuant to RA 9711.

Mr President, there is also the FDA Law. Many times, I have brought this up and I will do it again for the record. The FDA defines “health products.” Health products means, “food, drugs, cosmetics, devices, biologicals, vaccines, in-vitro diagnostic reagents and household/urban hazardous substances and/or a combination of and/or a derivative thereof.”

Ito na ang importante: “It shall also refer to products that may have an effect on health which require regulations as determined by the FDA.”

So any product that has an effect on health must be regulated by the FDA. And that’s why mayroon tayong rules and laws that say na bawal mag-claim na mayroong positive health effects, na ang isang produkto katulad ng vapes and e-cigarettes ay ‘harm reduction,” unless nag-register ka as a harm reduction product. Kung hindi ka nag-register [ng vape] as a harm reduction product, you have no business promoting anything. You have no business bringing your so-called ‘health experts’ to the Philippines to talk about harm reduction and the benefits of vaping.

Ayan nga, nasa news delikado siya [vaping]. If you have claims otherwise, then bring it to the FDA and get permission to claim that your products are health products that are now being properly regulated.

Mr. President, this is underhanded and unethical. Again, I will demonstrate to the body and the public some things that are in my handbag that require FDA regulation [shows different products from her bag]:

•eyedrops, sa mata lang ito hindi ito nilalanghap, kailangan ng FDA regulation;

•lipstick, hindi ko ito nilulunok, nilalagay ko lang sa lips ko, kailangan ng FDA regulation;

•powder na may SPF 50, pinapahid ko lang sa mukha ko, hindi ko inaamoy, hindi ko nilulunok, kailangan ng FDA regulation;

•sunblock para sa lips, moisturizer and sunblock, kailangan din ng FDA regulation, hindi ko rin iniinom ito, hindi ko rin nilulunok;

•eye shadow, ganun din pinapahid ko lang sa mata ko hindi sa loob, sa balat; and finally

•alcohol, alam n’yo yan lahat yan, kailangan ng FDA regulation.

Hindi pwede mag-claim na pwedeng gamitin sa isang bagay. Kung ano lang ang pwede, doon lang pwede. So ang tobacco products, and itong mga tinatawag na novel tobacco products, hindi pwedeng basta-basta i-promote yan kahit sa mga doktor na nakakabuti.

Ang mga doktor natin, magagaling. Pero nagre-rely din sila sa mga tinatawag na scientists o experts para bigyan din sila ng bagong impormasyon. Eh yan nga ang mga bagong impormasyon. Ang PMI, magpapa-seminar o tinatawag na “scientific forum” at ang mga imbitado ay mga doktor. May kopya ako ng invitation para sabihin ang beneficial effects ng e-cigarettes, vapes, heated tobacco products. Hindi pwede yun. Bawal yun. It is unethical, your honor.

And it is my firm belief that since we are about to discuss the budget, sayang na andami sa atin…Senator Bong Go just stood up to promote the support for more budget for health, and our Chairman, Sen. Angara is trying to find funding to support health. May additional funding pa yun for health workers, who have dedicated their lives, who have risked their lives during the time of COVID, at the height of COVID, may utang pa tayo sa kanila [medical frontliners], di ba, Sen. Angara? Bilyon ang utang natin sa kanila, tinaya nila ang buhay nila.

Tapos, ito tayo, with one hand, naghahanap ng pondo para tulungan ang health, and with the other hand, pinapabayaan natin ang mga seminar na ito na gumagawa ng health claims na wala namang permiso ng FDA.

So yun lang ang sa akin, Mr President, because this Congress, not this Senate, [but] the previous Senate, passed the Vape Law which happily includes a provision that says na bawal gawin yun. So hindi natin dapat payagan na gawin nila yun. Trabaho ba natin yun? Hindi, trabaho ng FDA at DOH yan. But it is my job to bring it to the attention of the body para sama-sama naman tayong manindigan na hindi tayo pwedeng ganyanin. Hindi pwedeng ang kabataan, ang mga Pilipino, pinagbobola at pinagloloko na dinadaan pa sa doktor ang information na ito na hindi ho tama.

Let me end with a few other visuals. Tingnan niyo naman please, my dear colleagues, ang nasa ad na ito, because the journal does not have pictures. I will just describe, ito po ay mga advertisement [shows old cigarette promotional ads] na ang bida ay doktor, o at least mukhang doktor na pino-promote ang sigarilyo. Di ba ngayon medyo nasha-shock tayo? Wow talaga ha, gumamit pa ng doktor to promote cigarettes.

But this is how it was maybe 50 years ago, your honors. Doktor, dentista ang ginagamit. Guess what? Ngayon, fast forward, ganun pa rin ginagamit nila. Doktor ngayon ang gusto nilang bolahin para doktor din ang magpo-promote ng vapes and e-cigs. It’s the same story. Huwag naman tayong magpabola. Ngayon, shocked tayo.

With all due respect, I try to be a responsible chairman of the Committee on SDGs and Futures Thinking. So let’s put ourselves 50 years from now. Titingnan din natin ang ads na ang kasama ay doktor na nagpo-promote ng vapes and e-cigs, at sasabihin din natin, na ha? Ganun? Pumayag tayo na ganun? So ngayon pa lang, pumayag naman kayo na samahan ako na hindi tayo papayag na ganyan, na nagpapa-seminar in the guise of a scientific forum.

In fact, your honors, ang isang invitation nila, let me read the details. Sabi nila, it’s an “oncology event.” So oncologists pa, specialists pa ng cancer ang inimbita nila para sabihin na ano? Mag-vape na lang ang mga pasyente n’yo? Tama ba yun? Hindi tama yun, your honors.

So on that note, let’s celebrate our anniversary and be united in fighting the good fight. Thank you, Mr President, thank you Majority Floor Leader, naisingit mo ako sa masikip nating schedule and thank you, dear colleagues.#

Co-sponsoring the 2023 national budget

Co-sponsorship speech on the proposed 2023 nat’l budget
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Senior Vice Chairperson, Senate Committee on Finance

Mr. President, I rise today to co-sponsor the 2023 budget as the Senior Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Finance in charge of the budgets of the (a) Department of Health and its attached agencies and corporations; (b) Department of Education and its attached agencies; (c) Commission on Higher Education; (d) State Universities and Colleges; (e) Cultural Agencies; and (f) the Development Academy of the Philippines.

I won’t go into details on the budgets I handled as Chairperson, because our Chairman already highlighted many of them. Suffice it to say, we sought to future-proof and use strategic foresight, to uphold intergenerational fairness, and to be prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead, because we do live in a VUCA world. VUCA, meaning, Volatile Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.

We heard the agencies using the lens of futures thinking and the [Sustainable Development Goals] as the main blueprint and guide to help attain the different goals for a more sustainable and prosperous future.

And although the agencies whose budget this representation heard were those on health, education and the cultural agencies…as your Senior Vice Chair, we sought to participate in other hearings and will continue to do so in the plenary debates using the same lens that will ensure intergenerational fairness.

Naturally, we are guided by the Constitution – Article XIV, Section 5, par. 5 provides that “The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.”

With studies showing that learning poverty in the Philippines is real, and the detrimental effects of not being in the classroom for almost two years due to the restrictions imposed because of COVID both in basic education and at the tertiary level, it is only fitting that we continue to look for ways to support the education sector.

On health, Article XIII, Sec. 11 of the Constitution provides that “the State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost.”

The continued support for the health sector is reflected in the budget, thanks to our Chairman. This includes improving facilities and their operations, particularly the delivery of primarily health care services, but also the establishment of specialty centers and their operations.

Increasing the carrying capacity for existing medical state universities and colleges, providing support to those with pending applications to offer medical programs , as well as increasing the carrying capacity of SUCs with Nursing and Allied Health Programs.

On another matter, UNICEF has reported that the Philippines has one million children who have not received a single dose of childhood vaccine. Funding for the hiring of immunization vaccinators will help us prevent a serious outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases like polio and measles.

On a final note, this representation appreciates the Chairperson’s trust over the years, and we thank the LBRMO and all the staff who worked on the budget. We will be ready to provide our colleagues with answers to their questions in the hope that we can continue to support these agencies. Thank you, Mr. President. #

Questioning the sustainability of polymer banknotes

Highlights of the manifestations of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Inquiry on the use of polymer instead of abaca fiber for Philippine banknotes

Part 1

I would just like to go on a few issues on sustainability. I chair the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking. So, my interventions are precisely to ask the agencies if we are really looking at the entire picture of sustainability and the SDGs that we have, and if we are using the resources we have to balance those different interests.

So I note, listening carefully to the presentation, that it is the view of BSP, basing it on studies conducted by similar agencies in other countries, that the shift to polymer notes is a sustainable move, right? That is the overall theme that I received.

I’d just like to go into that a little bit. You mentioned that the shift to polymer is more sustainable because of the use of less water, the carbon footprint is smaller, and that you can then recycle it into chairs, tables, etc.

But my question is, polymers are not biodegradable, right? As opposed to abaca and cotton, which are the main ingredients for the current paper that we use. Offhand, polymer is not biodegradable. There are ways that you can recycle it, but it is not biodegradable.

So in that sense, it is not truly sustainable. There are different ways we define ‘sustainability.’ Of course, reusing is one way, in a better direction than not. But it is not biodegradable, as opposed to abaca and cotton, is that correct?

I was listening very intently because it boils down to these kinds of issues. There are a lot of things we can produce out of plastic,[but] one of the biggest issues is collection. So I am shifting just to have a general discussion on this.

For example, the use of PET bottles, other products that can supposedly be broken down and reused – the difficulty is in the collection. So in the case of bills, that problem will be eliminated because when [BSP] retires old bills, people will then surrender it to you. So in terms of collection, that’s not that big of a problem. And then you can proceed to repurpose it in the examples you gave. Is that correct?

That does simplify it compared to other plastic products that are in the market, and then we claim that we can reuse it. But collection is one issue that we have. I hope the Committee has invited environmentalists to discuss this.

I’ll emphasize that [polymer] is still not biodegradable. When we look at the sustainability picture, we always have to take different factors into concern. It may in fact use less water, may have a smaller carbon footprint, but it will not biodegrade. It will still be there and it is a product we created and will stay there forever, as opposed to abaca and cotton.

The other SDG that I would like to point out is SDG 8, which is Decent Work [and Economic Growth]. So I think you know where I am going here. Decent work requires that we support our industries and one of those is the abaca industry. So when we look again at the whole sustainability of this program, we also look at how it affects work.

So there is an impact on the abaca farmers. I noted how you expressed that there are other ways to help the farmers, that only a small percent [is involved]. I listen and am conscious of that. But the fact remains that there is an effect.

And maybe if I look at another SDG to present a complete picture is that abaca farmers and the products they make form an integral part of our history, and in a way, our culture. We have always been known to be abaca exporters. Interestingly, yung manila folder came from that history, I was pleasantly surprised to be educated on that. So abaca production is a big part of who we are. There have been decisions made in the past in other countries, wherein they preserve the use of a certain product despite [the availability of new] technology to move towards a different way of production, because the original way of producing symbolizes who we are as a people. So that’s another reason that should always be taken into consideration.

I am not trying to minimize the advantages that you have presented for polymer. I am simply trying to present the complete picture coming from the SDG committee, which I chair.

So decent work and economic growth is a part of it and it affects who we are as a people because abaca production has been with us for a long time.

I think I will mention SDG 11 because sustainable communities are part of who the abaca farmers belong to. We want them to continue to be a sustainable community. And when we take away a part of what they rely on for work, then that affects their sustainability as a farming community. And it may actually not be totally sustainable because you are shifting to a product, as I said, that is not biodegradable.

And then, I wanted to point out that SDG 3 on Good Health. As you mentioned, you got the green light from DOH. Is that correct? I note that and I appreciate the work you did there because I like the fact that you looked at the different aspects. So if that is in fact a positive thing, then we have to recognize that and I commend you for looking at that. But yun nga lang, yung sa communities natin and digging further into the definition of sustainability, I think that’s something you might want to also look at.

So those are basically the main points that I wanted to raise because it is very possible that these points may affect your decision.

Let me just talk about historical and cultural preservation. By law, we actually protect buildings or other structures that are 50 years of age or older. We give it the benefit of the doubt that they have cultural significance. I see the Deputy Governor nodding his head so you are familiar with that. It’s not set in stone, [the structure] has to be assessed by the experts. Pero parang ganun din. And I appreciate the presentation by my good friend, Tony Lambino, on the use of the Philippine Eagle and how other countries use designs that are ‘personal’ to them. So ganun din, the use of abaca as a fabric is also ‘personal’ to us. It is your job in the Central Bank. Thank you also for a very thorough presentation on the mandate that you have on this.

On the part of legislature, we also look into this in aid of legislation. So that is just my role. I am trying to find a balance here. I have often been in situations where I need to propose legislation that balances the interests of different groups and sometimes they are conflicting. There may be reasons that point to one decision versus another, but I am always happy to hear all the reasons that may help me make a better decision. So that’s really the reason we are sharing this with the BSP.

I think that is all for now. I’ll just finally read into the record and mention Sustainable Cities and Communities earlier. I just want to read that because I think that may be a pivotal factor in any decision we make in changing the use of abaca in our money:

Culture has a crucial role to play in SDG 11, in making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, reliant, and sustainable. Specifically, target 11.4 calls for strengthening efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

So I’ll build that into the argument also that there is a special role in the use of abaca for us. By the way, that is a quote from UNESCO. So yun lang, Mr Chairman, I will continue to monitor and learn from this. Thank you for calling this hearing, thank you rin sa BSP.

Part 2

As I mentioned when I asked questions earlier, I will be listening intently to all the presentations. And now that I have heard all, may I already place my request that BSP responds in writing to all those concerns? Because there were a lot of concerns raised that basically support the questions that I asked. I’d like point-by-point [responses] because when I dissected the issue on sustainability, narinig ko yung ibang side, there may not be complete truth to the conclusion by BSP that it [use of polymer] is in fact sustainable.

And when you speak of the health aspect, tama nga naman po ang pinoint out. There are studies that show…that you can’t really get COVID from touching surfaces. Of course, you should be mindful and always use sanitary practices. But by simply touching something, hindi ka magkaka-COVID that way. So if that is the main reason for the shift, because it’s safer, then we have to really study this.

And let me end by saying that I recognize the authority of BSP. Wala naman akong question doon. They are a very professional organization. They went through the process. Pero tayo naman po as senators, we also have our oversight power in aid of legislation, and that’s why we are having these inquiries. Yun lang naman, I just like a really thorough response to that, and I am hoping that I can hear from BSP that they are willing to really look at these issues again before we make that final decision, Mr. Chairman. That’s all. #

Towards a sustainable future

Speech of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking

World Summit of the Committees of the Future
Helsinki, Finland

Thank you very much. Good morning to you. It is late afternoon in the Philippines now. I am very excited to be present virtually, although I would have preferred to have the opportunity to be there, except that the invitation comes at a time when the Philippines is in the middle of our budget debates. And it posed great difficulties for me to manage the budget committees that I chair here in the Philippines, so I have to be content to be present virtually.

My name is Pia Cayetano, I am a senator from the Philippines. And I am extremely pleased to join colleagues from all over the world in discussions on what parliaments are doing for futures thinking.

I had the opportunity to listen to the speakers before me and have already learned a great deal in just the last hour or two. So let me share about our work.

In my country, I personally pushed for the creation of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking in the previous Congress. So this started in 2019. I chaired that first Committee from 2019-2022 and I currently chair it in this Congress.

This was the very first time that the Senate of the Philippines had such a committee, which opened the discussions on the role of futures thinking and what it can do for legislation and policy-making

This actually was inspired from the practice in Finland on the Futures Committee, which I believe started way back in 1990.

So what we do in the Committee is..precisely to track where we are with our SDGs, prepare for various futures, and shift our mindset to futures thinking as a major policy reform.

What I do as the Chairman of this Committee is make interventions on almost any piece of legislation in the Senate, including the national budget, to prepare for various futures and shift to a futures-oriented mindset, through the use of strategic foresight and futures thinking tools.

So, I’d like to give now examples of our work.

Before the pandemic and during the pandemic, the committee held a series of hearings and invited futurists from all over the world to discuss the different futures of the Philippines beyond the pandemic, primarily on education, work and health.

On the national budget, I happen to be the Senior Vice Chair for the Committee on Finance and I handle the national budget for education and health sectors. I have been working on future-proofing these budgets and using strategic foresights.

In the course of my work on the budget, we have provided funding for Futures Offices in: Department of Education; Department of Health, and Department of Science and Technology. A Sub-Committee on SDGs under the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) was also created.

We provided funding for research on the futures of food systems and food security, in 4 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). I felt that this was extremely important because it is these universities that will be providing us with the necessary research. We also provided funding for the futures of food production, and this was given to the DOST.

We also pushed to grant the Development Academy of the Philippines additional funds to support lifelong learning and capacity building in strategic foresight for government officials and employees. Again, this is very important because in our work in Congress, we need to also ensure that these policy directions that include futures thinking are happening on the ground.

So on hearings in aid of legislation, we filed a Senate Resolution in 2020 to investigate how COVID-19 affected various sectors and their action plans to adapt, innovate and prepare for all possibilities and outcomes post-pandemic.

We had our Senate hearing, and we actually invited Dr. Tuomo Kuosa and Saku-Juhani Koskinen, and we had the Futures Platform from Helsinki, Finland. They discussed their Foresight Radar, which charts how various trends and phenomena will be impacted by certain events. Among the tools were the futures triangle, which helped the Committee in its work in advancing futures thinking in policy-making.

On the futures of health, in our hearings, we ended up with conclusions that you would think are quite simple and common, but sometimes we go through this exercise just to emphasize what should already be obvious.

And these were for the delivery of health services, the focus would be on: primary health care; patient-centered care; increased use of technology (which includes artificial intelligence, use of simulations in medical schools); engagement with different communities; and prioritizing holistic health, wellness and prevention.

I’d like to go to another topic, on the futures of cities and transportation. Actually, before we even had the Committee on Futures Thinking, I had already filed over 10 years ago a bill on sustainable transportation, which emphasized more mass transportation and included mobile transportation.

So in the last Congress, which was 3 years ago, 2019-2022, I authored and sponsored the Safe Pathways Network Bill, and we actually passed this in the Senate but it did not pass in the House of Representatives. So in this Congress that started this year, I refiled the bill and upon further study, called it a name that was more easily understandable by the public, and it is now called the Walkable and Bikeable Communities Bill. This has also passed in the Senate.

This is very exciting for us because for those of you who have been to many Asian countries, not all, but Asian countries including mine, we have a very high population, there is still a heavy dependence on cars. Of course there are public transportation [systems], but these are not enough. So when you look into the future of transportation, you can clearly see the need for investments in public transportation, and also the recognition that with sustainable city models, many will travel very short distances, and therefore, the use of safe pathways networks and interconnected networks of streets and slow streets, people can be more mobile on their feet, on bikes, to allow them to travel very short distances.

Also filed by this representation are bills that support sustainable cities in the future, such as the Sustainable Cities and Communities Act. This is something that I hope to work on more in this Congress.

I’d like now to go to the futures of education. During the pandemic, one of the major outputs of our Committee was the Futures of Education Committee Report. I am happy to share this with anyone who is interested, as I am happy to also get samples of the bills that the colleagues who presented before me have mentioned in your presentations.

So our Futures of Education reported on how we can balance the use of technology in the delivery of education, but how we also need to strike that balance and not be reliant just on technology, because face-to-face interaction and the use of interpersonal skills must also be developed. I remember attending a conference, where the emphasis was on science and technology, and one of the speakers recognized that, and if I am not mistaken, the World Economic Forum, stated that it doesn’t mean that all jobs in the future will be on science and technology. We would also need students, young people, young adults, to reinvent themselves in the areas of creativity and communication.

So let me now go on into future challenges and opportunities. Personally, I have an interest in the futures of water. The growing global population has increased the demand for fresh drinking water. No less than UNESCO states that 80% of the world is exposed to water insecurity, with an impending water crisis to emerge in 2070. With water being vital to all forms of life, how do we meet the water requirements needed to support living organisms and their ecosystem? We will recall, in history, societies were built near water sources, rivers, oceans, and in a way, we go full circle because without this access to clean water, it will create problems for us.

I also like us to look into the future of food. According to the World Bank’s Food Commodity Price Index, food prices around the world have increased by 80%, compared to two years ago. So COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerability of our supply chain, this continues to be a problem for many countries.

So I already mentioned my interest in the future of cities. There are models in different parts of the world that we can use for our particular needs. And of course, I already mentioned the futures of health. These are all important, the future of education, and how we need to transform our education to meet the needs of the work demands.

So in conclusion, there is much to be done. I am extremely happy to be in the midst of like-minded parliamentarians and policymakers, with the view of using futures thinking tools and strategic foresight to really plot what we want for the future generation of our countries and of the world because we all live together. It is my goal that the future children, the young children, have a better home. We are guided by the principle of intergenerational fairness, where we put ourselves 20, 30, 50 years ahead and see if we are prepared for that future. Thank you very much. #

Attending virtually the World Summit of the Committees of the Future in Finland, Senator Pia Cayetano shared how the Senate panel which she chairs is integrating strategic foresight in government policies and legislation in the Philippines.

Pia backs funding for alternative child care

Question: On funding for alternative child care under the DSWD budget

Senator Pia S. Cayetano: In the last Congress, around the latter part of 2021, we passed a new law on domestic adoption and creating the NACC (National Authority on Child Care). Ito kasing NACC will now house ICAB (Inter-Country Adoption Board), [and handle both] international adoption and domestic adoption.

Alaga ko yan because as some of you may know, I have an adopted child. Ang puso ko ay andoon para sa mga batang katulad niya na nangangailangan ng pamilyang magmamahal sa kanya, and also for abused children who may need temporary homes, Foster Care Law naman yun. So malapit talaga ito sa puso ko, on a personal and professional level because ako ang nagpasa ng mga batas na yun.

Come 2023, tinatanong ko ang NACC kung okay na, magkano budget, are you ready to continue serving the needs of Filipino children? Nagulat ako na ang budget lang na hawak nila is dating budget ng ICAB, 30-something million [later corrected: P56 million]. Pang international adoption yun.

Also, karamihan naman ng bata is for domestic adoption. Hindi daw sila nabibigyan ng pondong yun, so yun ang kina-clarify ko sa DSWD na saan ang pondo, ang support? Ang pagkapaliwanag kasi ‘transition period,’ but the law is very clear. Kaya nga tayo may transition period para smooth ang transition, hindi maaantala, hindi made-delay ang delivery of social services niyo sa mga batang itong nangangailangan.

So to be clear, ang job ng NACC is to provide alternative child care. Hindi naman sila ang nagre-rescue, sila ang sasalo. Kasi sabi ni Sec. Tulfo, maraming street children na sasaluhin nila. Sabi ko, saan mo ilalagay? Yun nga ang Foster Care Law. Ilalagay mo sila sa foster care. Ang mga Pilipino, by nature, mahilig mag-ampon. Kamag-anak, kapatid ng kamag-anak, kapitbahay. So [the Foster Care Law] legitimizes ang ginagawa naman nang kusa ng mga Pilipino.

Banggitin ko lang ang amounts… Ang budget ni ICAB P56 million  – yun lang ang binigay kay NACC. Samantalang umamin naman sa hearing na ang budget for the alternative child care is P220 milllion. Hindi naman nila binibigay doon. So sa hearing sinabi ko, ano maliwanag, ibibigay niyo? Dahil wala naman ibang mag-iimplement nun kundi si NACC. Sabi nila, i-implement nila, salamat kasi job ng NACC ngayon yan.

Q: NACC said they didn’t know they had a budget..

SPSC: In fairness kasi to NACC, si Executive Director Janella Estrada, talagang nagre-request siya ng funding and support. Ang kinomit (commit) daw sa kanya, if I am not mistaken, you can interview her, is 50 social workers. Pero kulang pa nga yun, kasi if you look at NACC, regional yan, lahat yan kumpleto. Plus the budget. Budget lang ni ICAB yun so paano niya pagkakasyahin yun? Sabi niya humihingi siya talaga, I believe her kasi ever since na-appoint siya tinatanong ko siya, kumusta na, ma-iimplement mo yun? Because the law does not allow for the services to stop. Kailangan tuloy tuloy yun.

Alam niyo napakasaklap, may mga bata iniwan, ulila. One year old, two years old, hindi naaasikaso, 3, 5, 10 years old. Wala nang umaampon. So it’s so crucial na mapaampon mo sila habang bata dahil mas madaling ma-ampon. Yes anytime pwede naman mag-ampon, pero less ang chances na maa-ampon sila. So time is of the essence. Of course, hindi mo rin pwede madaliin dahil meron din mga sindikato, ayaw din naman natin mangyari yun.

So the point is, matagal na siyang humihingi ng pondo at hindi naman siya binibigyan. So I’d like to believe na naging successful ang hearing dahil nag-commit ang DSWD na yung P220 million na yan para kay NACC yan for alternative child care: foster care, adoption.

To be clear lang, kasi hindi alam ng karamihan, kaya tayo gumawa ng batas na yun because medyo matagal din ang proseso through the judicial adoption. This law now allows na administrative ang adoption, kaya kailangan talaga nila ng pondo kasi ang burden ng justice system noon sa judge, sa kanila na mapupunta. Sila na ngayon ang uusisa doon sa qualifications ng parents na gusto mag-adopt so we have to equip them.

And idagdag ko doon yung issue kung natatandaan niyo, tinanong ko ang Secretary, sabi ko, I assume po na alam niyo na may shortage tayo ng social workers. Sila ang gagawa ng trabaho na yun eh. And all the other work that is required sa DSWD. Very important ang social workers, and we have a shortage.

It has to be addressed kaya tinatanong ko kung nakikipag-usap na kayo sa CHED para magkaroon tayo ng mas maraming schools na nag-o-offer ng course na ganito. Sa DBM din, kailangan maging attractive ang salary ng social workers if we really want to attract social workers to [the DSWD].

Q: Kailan pa walang budget NACC?

SPSC: Bago ang batas na yan. So before naging batas itong domestic adoption law na ito, DSWD really handled adoption and foster care sa budget nila. That’s why I asked, in this current year, 2022, P162 million ang budget. And then next year, may P220 million siya na budget. But that is found in the item that is called protective services for individuals and families in difficult circumstances. P19 billion ang budget na yun for AICS. So naka-lump sum ang P19 billion na yun, so sabi ko, bakit hindi niyo ibibigay? As far as I am concerned, 2 items yan, AICS and children in need. Huwag niyo naman ibigay lahat yan sa AICS. Ang AICS po is yung binibigay na assistance naman for people in need. But this is a separate need. And it is part of that budget. So we have to ask kasi hindi ko yan nakikita on the face of the budget. Yung P220 million na yun.

Q: Ano po sakop ng NACC?

PSC: Lahat ng klase ng adoption, international and local, foster care, and pati mga guardianship. Kaya nga alternative care. Meron pa kasing ibang alternative care na hindi ganun ka-defined under the law. Basta lahat ng alternative care. In other words, lahat ng sitwasyon na ang bata, hindi lumalaki sa magulang niya, sila yan, sa magulang or substitute parent, kasi di ba may lolo’t lola din naman to be legalistic about it.

Ang lumalabas nung nag-present, si ED Janella, nagre-request siya sa amin ng pondo, sabi ko, teka teka, bago ka mag-request, may assumption na either wala talagang budget, hindi ka binigyan ng budget. Meron kang budget, sandali. Kaya online ako kanina, pumunta pa talaga ako dito [Senate hearing], gusto ko talagang alamin kung sino dyan ang Usec na in charge dyan na why is [NACC] begging for funding for alternative child care? May funding yan [alternative child care] every year for how many years. Tapos nawala? O di andoon pala.

They assured us in the hearing that [the funding] will be released for NACC. That is for NACC.

Q: Even during the transition period?

SPSC: Yes, you know, that’s why the history of the law is also very important and I was asking the Usecs, matagal na ba kayo dito? Kasi I want to be sure na naiintindihan nila ang obligation. The law is very clear, the law says, there is a 3-year transition period to ensure that there will be no disruption in the delivery of services.

These services cannot be delayed. That’s why the law is very clear. The purpose lang naman kasi of that transition is the executive director of ICAB will continue to oversee [international adoption]. Hindi ibig sabihin na iho-hold niyo ang budget, walang ganun. Kaya iniintindi ko sa kanila, ano bang intindi niyo dyan sa transition? It doesn’t matter to me if the transition takes a year, 2 years, or 3 years. The point is, no disruption of services.

Q: On POGOs

PSC: First of all, wala naman ako doon [meeting between senators and the Chinese ambassador] kaya hindi na ako magko-comment specifically on that exchange. In general lang sa POGO, if you have a question but on that exchange I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t there. Some of the senators were there, I wasn’t there.

Q: Are you in favor of banning POGOs?

PSC: Can I also give a little bit of history? If you recall, ako yung Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means when we passed the law taxing the POGOs. Kasi, just like vape, ibalik natin sa favorite subject ko, ang vapes, we decided: do we ban or regulate, right?

So just like vapes, nag-decide tayo, hindi ban, ire-regulate. Ilagay dyan ang FDA, gawing 21 years of age, and so on and so forth. Aba, nabaliktad, pumasa ng bagong batas kung saan tinanggal sa FDA at ginawang younger ang access ng kabataan. I am against that, as you know.

So similarly, ang POGO, there was a discussion, do we ban or do we regulate? Ang gusto ng administration, the past administration, let us regulate. Job ko lang naman as the Committee on Ways and Means Chair, we regulate, tax, pak, ayan ang tax niyo. Now, nag-escalate obviously ang mga reported crimes and I am sure maraming unreported. Kapag ganun na dumadating na sa bansa natin, sila naman ang nagdadala ng kaguluhan, I am totally fine with banning it. Kasi pa-regulate regulate ka pa, hindi naman natin nako-control at nasasaktan ang mismong mga Pilipino, di i-ban na lang. I am very open to that na i-ban yan.

Q: Will you join Sen Win’s recommendation to ban?

PSC: I don’t know the details of his recommendation but I am very open nga to banning. Kasi nga, kung wala naman tayong napapala, there were projections on what amounts we can collect, pero technically no amount naman, di ba? No amount naman can justify the damage that’s being done. So again, ibalik natin sa favorite topic ko na vapes, kahit naman nakaka-collect ka pero tinanggal mo naman sa authority ng FDA ang pagre-regulate nyan at wala naman kakayahan ang DTI na mag-regulate nyan, so what kung tinax mo, sinira mo naman ang buhay at kalusugan ng kabataan? So that is my analogy.

Q: Lost revenues?

SPSC: Yun nga, that’s very interesting, kasi nga yun nga ang projections nung nagche-chair pa ako nyan around 2021-2022, but the actual collection is like 10 percent of that, mga P3 billion so ang layo nga dibba? So again, let’s be clear, ang stand ko is no amount, even if napatupad yang P30 billion [projected revenues] na-collect, will that justify the loss of life? That criminal environment that we’re living in? For me, kahit ako ang sponsor nun, I will ask to revisit the policy, right? Tapos worse pa, ni wala kang natatanggap o napakaliit ng natatanggap. So for me, very open to banning kung ganyan din lang.

Q: Through legislation or executive order?

SPSC: Actually kaya naman yan ng executive order kasi desisyon naman nila yan. Undesirable alien ka, divba? So pwede naman yan executive. Yan ang mabilis, pero syempre sometimes gusto naman ng senators to be strong about the position that we also… yung [resolution expressing the] sense of the Senate, pwede rin naman yun. But it can definitely be an executive decision.

Q: Update on F2F classes in higher education..

SPSC: Well, balik ko lang doon sa sinasabi ko, I was very happy that DepEd has made a very clear policy on F2F. And in their presentation, the exceptions to F2F are very clear. The exceptions are defined, if there are circumstances that you really cannot have F2F. Like there is a calamity in that area. And as we already know, may mga ALS students tayo and the like na alternative, so clearly, hindi sila sakop ng full F2F, right?

So that is something we discussed during the DepEd hearing and like I said, there was nothing to discuss because DepEd has been very clear about that policy.

Pagdating sa CHED and SUCs, including UP, I was quite surprised and shocked that there did not seem to be a clear direction on the return of full F2F. Let me repeat that phrase: I was shocked that there was not a clear direction on the return of full F2F. Kasi ang lumalabas after the hearing, meron namang F2F sa mga schools. Meron naman kung sa meron, pero full F2F ba yun? Once a week ba sila pumapasok, once a month? Because the reports I have clearly and sinabi din yun sa hearing [on the budget for higher learning last September 27], yung mga sciences and medical school, matagal na naman bumalik. And I said that’s old news. Huwag niyo naman ipagmalaki na bumalik na ang med school and sciences a year ago because precisely it’s been a year. What about the students who are taking GE [General Education] courses? The report I have is that many of those taking GE courses do not have F2F. In fact, completely online. Blended pa ba tawag doon? Kapag completely online. Hindi na blended tawag dun, di ba? Blended is some form of different modality. So for example, when I was a freshman in UP, meron kaming Economics 11, si Prof. Winnie Monsod, sa auditorium once a week, lahat yan, ilan kami, 300, 400 students… And then meron kang breakout session in a small classroom, that’s a form of blended, auditorium style, then small classroom. Another form of blended, which I am okay with seeing now is if there is a pre recorded lecture and then yun ang one hour na kapalit ng auditorium, and then after that, they break up the following, Wednesday, Friday, in their small groups. No problem. That is the true blended. Hindi yung 100 percent online. Hindi blended yun. Ang tawag dun, online.

Q: UP lang ba?

SPSC: UP did not have a clear direction for return to F2F because they were actually telling me the reasons they could not do full F2F, all of which I was able to…ako naman may explanation ako doon. Like one reason nga was hindi raw pumapayag ang LGU. Sabi ko doon sa hearing, sige let’s use UP Diliman as an example, hindi raw pumapayag ang Quezon City, eh I contacted Mayor Joy Belmonte and wala raw problema sa F2F. And so on and so forth. May parents daw na concerned, sabi ko, isn’t it our job to assure the parents that it’s time to move on? Kasi the example I gave, I was talking to Chancellor [Carmencita] Padilla, Chancellor of UP Manila just now, sabi ko, if you tell me that there are parents that are hesitant to send their kids kasi kinakabahan, I believe you. Meron naman parents na ganun ang feeling. Pero di ba job natin to tell them that we cannot sacrifice the education of your child. It’s like 100 years ago, where there were parents who said they will not send their children to school kasi kailangan nila ang mga bata sa farms, divba totoo yun, alam niyo yan. Ayaw pag-aralin kasi kailangan sa farms. But that’s why we said, no, you need to educate your children. And that is my stand. Higher education is just as important in our economic development and improving the standards of living of that family. Do you know that the biggest learning loss is for poorer families? So the biggest losers here are the poorer families kasi sila naman ang walang laptop, may poor internet connection. So kung ipapagpatuloy yan [blended], the biggest losers are the poorer families in the poorer regions.

That’s why I want a clearer direction. Now your question was UP lang ba o pati CHED? Well, let’s see tomorrow [next budget hearing on higher education] sabi naman ni Chairman Popoy [De Vera of CHED], nagbigay naman siya ng directive for full F2F. But at the time of the report, there were 32 SUCs that have full F2F and the rest were less.. and now from what I know, 114 SUCs have committed to full F2F. Pero I will wait for the formal hearing because this should be on record diba? Hindi naman pwedeng pinaparating lang sa akin. And I also get it from Chairman Popoy, kasi I need to see the leadership. because, bukas na lang [finance hearing]…

Q: Does F2F conflict with the use of technology as a mode of learning?

SPSC: Wala naman akong problema with using technology, like I said, kung talaga namang blended ang ibibigay mo. So for example, if you say, syempre kids have been deprived of F2F learning going on their third year. So I think everyone can say by this time, makita naman nila ang teachers nila, classmates nila, professors nila.

But on that note, if you will say, like the example I gave, once a week, F2F with the teacher, and then the other week, group kayo in school, mingling with your classmates for the group work, and then another one day a week, may one-on-one ka ba sa teacher mo, then that’s the true blended and truly using technology to have access [to learning].

There is a study, and unahan ko na kayo, gusto niyo sige sa inyo ko na lang iko-quote ang study… There is a study which I think is a no-brainer naman. When there is zero access to school, then obviously technology helps, because from zero, may access ka naman online. But if it’s a choice between F2F and online, winner parati ang F2F. Study na yan, hindi ako nag-imbento nyan. Ayaw ko na makipagtalo sa mga school administrators at teachers kasi alam naman nila yan. #

Senator Pia Cayetano on SUCs and UP: “I was shocked that there was not a clear direction on the return of full face-to-face classes.”

Update on the case of OFW Jovelyn Tang Andres

Mr President, this is just a brief manifestation in response to the request of our colleague, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, for assistance for the family of our Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), Jovelyn Andres, of Sarangani province.

You will recall, I delivered a privilege speech on the PPEs. But Sen. Risa brought to our attention a matter, which was very painful to hear. And we committed, along with the Majority Floor Leader, that we would look into it immediately. So, that same day, your honor, we got in touch with the relatives of Jovelyn Tang Andres, and we were informed that they found out that Jovelyn died through a Facebook post on March 27 pa, your honor, like 6 months ago.

And then they went to DFA GenSan on March 29, so a day and a half perhaps, after they found out, to inquire about this because they just saw it on Facebook, and then they were informed that they could have an autopsy done but it would take 6 months for the body to return.

They opted to have the autopsy done in Saudi Arabia. They were told that if there was no autopsy to be done, the body could be brought back to the Philippines within 2 days, but they opted for an autopsy to be done.

However, they never got the autopsy report. So eventually, they decided to bring the body of Jovelyn – the remains of Jovelyn – home and she was transported back home on September 18, which was soon after the delivery of the information by our colleague, Sen. Risa, to us.

They called OWWA on Sept. 18 to ask for help, OWWA provided P125,000 as insurance, that Jovelyn is entitled to, and OWWA would shoulder the cost of repatriation. They have shouldered.

We then intervened and called the Sarangani Provincial Police asking for an autopsy to be conducted. We were informed that there is only one medico legal per province, who was on study leave. But we were able to connect with Police Major Norman Castro, OIC RFU-12 Sarangani Provincial Forensic Unit and he was the one who arranged for the autopsy and provided the necessary assistance.

So on Friday, the family confirmed that they will push through with this autopsy initiated by Police Major Castro. I am not sure if I mentioned that OWWA would shoulder the cost of the autopsy.

I want to take this opportunity, your honor, to thank, on behalf of the Senate, Mayor Salway Sumbo, who provided the car and gasoline for the travel of the doctor who conducted the autopsy, Police Major Norman Castro, OIC RFU-12 Sarangani Provincial Forensic Unit, Police Major Sergeant Richard Tindaan, Police Staff Sergeant Abdul Ampac, Police Corporal Jai Candelon, Patrol Jona Liedo, and Patrol Ramil Gomez. Sila po ang mga tumulong, and Police Lieutenant Colonel Maria Analiza Dela Cruz, the medico legal officer of regional forensic unit of Region 11.

Thank you, Sen Risa for bringing this matter to our attention. I felt it… The Senate, and there were quite a few senators who were very concerned about this. I am happy to report that kahit paano, in our own small way, nakatulong po tayo. I’ve also brought this to the attention of Sec. Ople and actually, she had coordinated earlier with OWWA so I suppose some of this information had already been shared by the government offices.

Yun lang po, Mr. President, maraming salamat. #

In a manifestation, Senator Pia Cayetano gave an update on the autopsy done last Friday (September 23) on the remains of OFW Jovelyn Tang Andres, a victim of abuse in Saudi Arabia.

Pia lauds DMW, POEA

Pia lauds DMW, POEA response to her speech on OFWs being made to wear PPEs
Statement of Senator Pia Cayetano

I welcome Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople’s response to my Sept.21 privilege speech, as well as POEA’s issuance of Advisory No.62, which prohibits any requirement for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to wear full PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) upon departure.

With this order in place, violators must be immediately reported to authorities and dealt with. #

In a speech last September 21, Senator Pia Cayetano called the Senate’s attention to photos of OFWs wearing full PPEs, presumably as a travel requirement. In response, the POEA issued Advisory No.62 prohibiting the said practice. DMW Sec. Susan Ople also issued a statement calling the practice ‘outdated, misguided, and oppressive.’

Is wearing PPE a travel requirement for some OFWs?

Is wearing PPE a travel requirement for some OFWs?
Privilege speech of Senator Pia Cayetano

Madam President, I have two photos to show. One I just grabbed from the Instagram account of Sam YG [shows photo from Sam YG’s IG post]. It’s a better photo than mine, which is why I showed it first. And I’ll just share my photo as well. That’s mine [shows another photo of OFWs wearing personal protective equipment, taken at NAIA 3 on August 23, 2022]. Siguro mas maaga ang dating ko, or not the same day, actually, because my photo was taken a few weeks ago. But I was not able to deliver a speech on this as there were other matters on the floor at that time.

Anyway, your honors, [these photos were taken] in our airports, and I was shocked to see groups of Filipinos in complete PPEs. So I asked around, and I was also rushing to line up and get to my gate on time. So I was not able to converse with them. Sometimes we have time to take pictures, chat with them. But unfortunately, that wasn’t one of those days.

So I just asked around and was told later on that they are OFWs. Your honor, I’d like to point out that they are in complete PPE, including the footsies [shoe covers] that you only see in operating rooms. It’s like the height of ridiculousness that you have to wear those footsies because they are walking around the whole airport where thousands of people enter, walk around every day, so there is nothing hygienic about being in footsies, as opposed to being in their regular rubber shoes or walking shoes.

So the first thing that came to my mind was to inform Sec. Toots Ople [Department of Migrant Workers]. She’s a friend and so I messaged her and asked her if she is aware of any requirement for our departing OFWs to be in PPE. Sabi niya parang wala naman, but she will check and I sent her these photos.

Tingnan niyo naman, Madam President, may gloves pa. Nakakaiyak. And then may face shield pa.

You know, your honors, I’d like to put context here. I attended my very first conference since the pandemic started, when I represented the Senate in November [2021] in the IPU that was held in Spain. And if I am not mistaken, I hope I’m not confusing the dates, but on my way back, the airline was handing out face shields to me and all other passengers, and I had to tell the airline attendant, this was November, your honor, so I hope my dates are right, I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong. There is no longer any face shield requirement, if I am not mistaken, that was November of last year. And they were not properly informed. Kaya they were handing the passengers, including me, anyone returning to the Philippines. So hindi maganda ang communication sa kanila na wala nang face shield requirement. In fairness to the airline, they were I guess kind enough to provide us with face shields, thinking it is a requirement.

Madam President, that was at the end of last year [shows another photo of OFWs in PPE from 2021], mag-iisang taon na, and here we have our OFWs naka-full PPE, with face shields, footsies, and gloves. It’s ridiculous, your honors. I feel so bad for them because it is not comfortable wearing those. And that’s why tayo, hangang-hanga tayo sa mga doktor, they had to wear those and I am not sure what the protocols are now, but our OFWs are wearing it when they travel. Ang hirap kaya magbanyo na ganyan ang suot mo. isipin na lang natin yun, dun pa lang. And I wonder how much they were charged to comply with whoever’s requirement this is.

So, I move on. I’d like to put on record some information that I’ve gathered on the requirements in different countries. In the UAE, the requirement is as follows: vaccination certificate containing a QR code. They are not required to present a negative result of an RT-PCR test for COVID.

Wala na ngang PCR test na required ipakita, tapos may PPE papunta doon. To be clear, hindi po ako 100 percent sure kung saan sila papunta, but I am sure most of our OFWs go to these areas. So you know, we can kind of assume that some of these pictures I have shown, their [OFWs] destination, is one of these areas.

For Kuwait, travelers are no longer required to get tested for COVID-19 before traveling to Kuwait. The pre-departure testing requirement has been removed.

And then, for Riyadh, all non-Saudis who have not been vaccinated against COVID must abide by the following institutional quarantine procedures for 7 days. So there’s quarantine. All non-Saudis who are immunized are allowed to enter Saudi without the need for a quarantine period, provided that they present an official vaccination certificate and submit a negative PCR.

Wala akong nakikitang nakalista dito na naka-full PPE sila, your honor.

Meron din akong Hong Kong. I am just assuming because my photos at least were taken in the evening, so usually ang palabas noon were the countries I’ve mentioned. But in Hong Kong, there are quarantine measures, negative PCR, confirmation of a room reservation. Kasi as you know sa HK, may quarantine requirement, although I just read in the papers that they are planning to make it home-based. Again, there is no PPE requirement, your honors.

So just to complete the information. Not just information but I’d just like to spread into the record one more thing, bear with me, your honors, I am going through these lengthy notes that I have.

The record will reflect, your honors, that I’ve had the opportunity to interpellate when our colleague, Sen. Tulfo, had a privilege speech on migrant workers. And at that point, I mentioned the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families. I’d like to include in this speech Article 7 of the said convention, which states:

“States Parties undertake, in accordance with the international instruments concerning human rights, to respect and to ensure to all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory or subject to their jurisdiction the rights provided for in the present Convention without distinction of any kind such as to sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status.”

I believe, your honor, that this is discrimination, if in fact there is such a requirement. I am not saying there is a requirement, but I am just putting on record that we are protected by this convention. That if based on the rules for entering the countries that I mentioned as I gathered from the websites are correct, I didn’t see anything about Filipinos, OFWs, or any other nationality entering their countries [are required] to be in full PPEs.

So, either there is discrimination against our own nationals or may rumaraket, merong nakikinabang, may nagte-take advantage ng COVID situation na pinipilit ang ating mga OFWs na maghirap. Kasi hindi ho madali na magsuot ng ganyan, at malamang magbayad.

Wala na ata akong idadagdag. Actually, let me put on record, Article 16 of the International Labor Organization, on Occupational Safety and Health Convention, states: “Employers have duties concerning the provision and use of PPE at work; PPEs should only be used as a last resort; If PPE is still needed after implementing other controls, employers must provide this for their workers free of charge.”

So, I am just putting all of this on record para kung may marinig akong mga palusot at dahilan, requirement yan, ng kahit anong bansa, o kahit anong kumpanya na nag-recruit ng ating mga OFWs, nilalagay ko na po yan sa record para klaro.

Finally, I think that is what I have for today, your honor. So I leave this to our better, more in depth scrutiny. I hope we can help out our OFWs so that they won’t have to pay extra to travel for work, and they don’t have to travel in this kind of discomfort.

Thank you.#

In a privilege speech, Sen. Pia Cayetano shows photos of traveling OFWs in full PPEs. She asked if some OFWs are being made to wear PPEs as a travel requirement, and called for a Senate inquiry.