Honoring the late FVR

Mr. President, in the next few days, we will see a deluge of much well-deserved praises for the late former President Fidel V. Ramos.

I filed Senate Resolution No. 90 to honor FVR and to convey the Senate’s sympathy on the passing of this great man.

I quote from parts of my resolution: “President Ramos’ background and legacy of public service remain peerless: he was an honor graduate at the United States Military Academy at Westpoint, veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, Presidential Assistant on Military Affairs, Vice Chief of Staff and later acting Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Constabulary, Integrated National Police Chief, EDSA 1 icon, AFP Chief, Secretary of the Department of National Defense, 12th President of the Republic of the Philippines, peace and leadership advocate and statesman.”

President Ramos advocated for and was instrumental in the deregulation of key industries, the liberalization of the economy, the privatization of public entities, and encouraging the entry of foreign investments.

In fact, under his administration, we embarked on an ambitious development plan dubbed as the Philippines 2000, which opened up the economy, encouraged private enterprise, invited foreign and domestic investment, and reduced widespread corruption.

But beyond all of this, FVR was a good friend to the family. He would call my dad [the late Senator Renato L. Cayetano] at his usual time, which was at the crack of dawn, for those who know him. My dad at that time was a private practicing lawyer, and he invited my dad to seek his counsel. My dad was an afternoon golfer, so that early morning in the dark calltime was not his normal calltime, but he gladly said yes to the President.

[Note: begins to show photo slides] So that’s a photo of dad and that’s actually Alan [Senator Alan S. Cayetano] there on the left side. Mapayat pa siya nun, so you might recognize some of the people there. I am pausing so our colleagues can laugh at Alan’s photos, which they are doing.

And he is not a golfer so I don’t know why he’s there. My two other brothers, Ren, who’s actually a golfer, I think was on the fairway many times with President Ramos, and Lino was also a golfer. Si Alan, pulitiko kaya andyan. Ako wala, I was a private citizen.

But I digress, and I move on. As I was saying, my dad heeded these early morning invitations to play golf, and we knew that the President trusted his counsel and it was just a matter of time that he made my dad his Chief Legal Counsel. And so in the next few years, this is a photo of my dad’s oath taking, I was behind my dad… I was actually carrying my daughter who was barely one year old… This was in 1995, midway through the President’s term, when he asked my dad to be his legal counsel. It was a dream job for my father. He had loved being a lawyer and he loved giving advice to the President. And I believe they still continued to play golf early in the morning.

So, a few years later, in 1998, the President asked my dad to run for the Senate, which he did. And the rest was history, my dad was a senator from 1998 to 2003. And my father passed away in 2003.

Shortly after that, I became the person to seek the late President FVR’s counsel. Alan and I went to him and sought his advice on my bid to run for the Senate. So if I listened carefully to the earlier speeches before me, clearly, he is instrumental, for better or for worse, for a lot of members being in this Senate today. May I put on record yung sabi ni Sen. Imee, “Oo nga.” Because it is true, a lot of people went to see him and asked for his advice.

Anyway, he continued to counsel my brother and I, and I think Alan has his share of his own stories. I continue to visit him. And I’d love to hear if any of you have had this experience, or baka it’s just my experience, because it’s my common bond with the President. May ‘push-up challenge’ siya. Did any of you experience that or was it just me because pareho kami? Si Sen. Lito, nag-thumbs up so nasama siya sa push-up challenge.

But interestingly, I was so game to take the push-up challenge but I think I must have been on a skirt, because for whatever reason, or because he just wanted to be a gentleman, he asked my security to perform the push-ups and my security maybe was not that young but not that old, maybe 50, but FVR clearly would have been in his 70s, and he performed it flawlessly. Yung talagang push-up hanggang dibdib na deretsong deretso ang katawan, and then, he looked like he could go on and on.

But that is a personal story that I share because he was a beacon of fitness. He was known to wake up hours before the crack of dawn to run for fitness. Like me, he believed that a healthy body supported a healthy mind. And then, from what I know, he proceeded to devour the news and only then I think would the sun rise, and he would officially start his day, which would still be earlier than many of us would be comfortable with.

I’ve known him to be such a hard worker, very demanding on, I think it was Sen. Loren who mentioned, complete staff work na I’m sure panalangin natin lahat ng senador sa staff din natin, complete staff work.

And I also heard stories na meron siyang mga small pieces of paper na doon niya sinusulat, tapos dinudukot niya sa bulsa niya yun, yung maliliit niyang reminder sa sarili niya at sa kasama niya.

And then, years later, I would actually see him joining races, running 5 kilometers and the like in races.

So I am about to come to an end on my tribute to FVR. Around 2010, 2011, I wrote a book to honor my father. I asked FVR to be the guest speaker when I launched the book, this is called, ‘To Dream the Impossible Dream,’ because my father’s dream was to serve his country. And in a large way, the late President Fidel Ramos gave my father that break, to fulfill his dream to serve his country. So this was me and my family, my father was no longer around, and I’d like to think that through the opportunities that the late President Fidel Ramos gave my father, and later to me, and even to Alan, we continue to fulfill our father’s impossible dream.

And so let me end on this note: interestingly, all my colleagues in the 18th Congress know, and for the new ones, if you don’t know yet, you’ll know soon enough, that my passion is sustainable development, and the Committee I chair is SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. And as I was reading through the late FVR’s accomplishments, one of them is something that will continue to guide me today. He established the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD). Interestingly, and how many years ago was that? Hindi pa naninindigan si Sen. Loren for climate change, andyan na si FVR for sustainable development. I mean that to also honor Sen. Loren. I am just saying the late FVR has also been doing this for so long.

And let me just read a portion of that from my resolution: “FVR established the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development to integrate sustainable development parameters in the country’s development efforts, to ensure that the country’s economic agendas are not pursued at the expense of the environment. And when we speak of the environment, it’s not just the physical environment, but it’s everything else: human health, gender equality, and so on and so forth.”

And so I end this by sincerely offering our condolences to the family and all the people he loved, who loved him, and I pray that this tribute that we have, I hope will be repeated again and again, if not for days, for months, but for years to come, because he truly was an inspiration for our youth to emulate.

Thank you, Mr. President. #

Run for the Pasig River 2008
File photo: Former President Fidel V. Ramos, former First Lady Amelita ‘Ming’ Ramos (chairperson, Clean and Green Foundation) and Sen. Pia Cayetano award the female winners of the Philippine Marathon for the Pasig River (2008).

Exempting poll duty pay from income tax

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chair, 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. 2520, under Committee Report No. 641, which seeks to exempt from income tax the election honoraria and allowances of persons rendering services during an election period.

Aside from performing the noble task of educating the youth, teachers also have an additional role during elections. They are called to man the polling precincts in order to protect the sanctity of every ballot and facilitate the conduct of peaceful and clean elections.

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 10756 also known as the Election Service Reform Act, the said task is not only limited to our teachers, as the COMELEC may also appoint other persons to serve during elections, including DepEd non-teaching personnel.

Based on DepEd’s records, about 647,812 of its personnel rendered service in the recently held 2022 national and local elections. An estimated 319,317 public school teachers sat as Electoral Board members and a number of DepEd personnel served as supervisory election officials.

Per the Election Service Reform Act, they are entitled to honoria, travel allowance, and such other benefits that may be granted by the COMELEC.

For this year, based on COMELEC Resolution No. 10727 (s. 2021), the persons who manned our polling precincts will receive the following:

  • Honorarium;
  • Travel Allowance;
  • Anti COVID-19 Allowance; and
  • Communication Allowance

According to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Chairpersons of the Electoral Boards and Poll Clerks also received an additional P1,000 to P2,000 travel allowance for training, which was already released to them.

Per ACT, election workers, depending on their position (Chairperson, Electoral Board Members, Technical Support Staff, etc.) should receive a gross compensation of P4,500 to P12,000.

However, with the imposition of the 20% withholding tax, they will only receive around P3,600 to P9,600 for the services they rendered during the 2022 elections.

Historically, election honoraria and allowances were not taxed.

But the BIR had ruled that such were compensation that should be subjected to tax and, consequently, to withholding tax.

And so, in the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Election and in the succeeding 2019 Midterm Election, these were subjected to 5% professional fee withholding tax.

Now, in the 2022 election, the BIR issued another ruling that since election duties are not a practice of a teacher’s profession, the previous 5% professional fee withholding tax would no longer be applicable, thus, subjecting election honoraria and allowances to 20% withholding tax on compensation.

Ang hiling ng ating mga guro at ng iba pang nagbibigay ng serbisyo tuwing eleksyon, huwag na silang buwisan dahil napakabigat na ng trabahong kanilang ginagampanan.

This measure is a small show of support to our teachers and non-teaching personnel for the services they render, considering that elections are special circumstances that do not happen annually.

On that note, Mr. President, I submit this bill to the wisdom of the Senate.

Thank you, Mr. President. #

“Ang hiling ng ating mga guro at ng iba pang nagbibigay ng serbisyo tuwing eleksyon, huwag na silang buwisan dahil napakabigat na ng trabahong kanilang ginagampanan.”

Pia sees Philippine Sports High School rising in New Clark City

Senator Pia S. Cayetano now sees her long-time vision for the country to have its own sports academy moving closer to reality with the near completion of the New Clark City (NCC) sports complex in Capas, Tarlac.

At a press conference held Friday at the newly built NCC Aquatics Center, Cayetano said the sprawling complex could very well host the country’s first Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) that would train young, aspiring athletes for the national pool. 

“My dream ever since is for our athletes to be housed in, not just a dorm, but a family-run residential area kung saan may mga mag-aalaga sa kanila. And within these premises are the sports facilities that they would need to train in,” shared Cayetano, a former member of the national volleyball team and principal author of Senate Bill No. 506 seeking to establish the PHSS. 

“Now we have the opportunity – with the way the Sports Complex has been planned – for that to become a reality,” she added.

The NCC is a flagship project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which forms part of the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program. 

Phase 1A of the NCC project involves a 40-hectare Sports Complex that will serve as the main hub of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, which the country will host this year. 

The complex consists of world-class sports facilities, including an Athletics Stadium, an Aquatics Center, as well as an Athletes’ Village. 

“If you have a facility where [promising] student-athletes can be students and athletes at the same time, then that’s a win-win solution for building the future for these kids. They can excel in their craft, which is sports, pero hindi pa rin nila mapapabayaan ang education nila,” she explained. 

On the other hand, the senator stressed that it takes more than just investing in infrastructure to fully promote sports development among young Filipinos.

“What I feel is key here is not just the availability of the facilities, but the [overall] vision. Without the desire to see the benefit of investing in our youth or giving them this kind of facility, the right food, the right nutrition, and mentoring, our vision will not be a reality,” she stressed.

“But with a government that really believes in molding the youth, in giving them a future, then I feel it can really happen,” Cayetano added. 

In his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte said he would support the move to create a national academy for sports for high school students.#

We win as one: House Speaker Alan Cayetano, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) Vince Dizon, and Senator Pia Cayetano at the New Clark City Aquatics Center. The newly built facility recently got accreditation from Fédération internationale de natation (FINA), the international federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee for administering international competition in water sports.
Senator Pia S. Cayetano, who once donned the national tri-colors for volleyball, running with athletes at the brand new Athletics Stadium in New Clark City.

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.

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. 

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.

Transcript of media interview (July 31, 2019)

Reporter: Ma’am, ‘Yung una po muna, hingi lang pong reaction dun sa biro ng Pangulo kahapon na, “When will your dynasty end?” 

Sen. Pia: Yeah, so first of all, biro nga ‘yun, ‘diba? So biro ‘yun, so if you ask me, biro. So I’ll leave it at that, kasi there are more important issues there. And that’s the TESDA App that was just launched [in Taguig City], which I feel is so interesting. And I think we should draw attention to what the important issues are, not a joke. 

But on that note, that is also something that I’m always willing to talk about. Kasi when you talk about dynasty, I always ask, let’s talk about governance. And I think with all due humility, the President’s high regard for our family, for my brother, is evident in no less than his being his endorsed Speaker. 

So, we’re so proud… I call on everyone to judge the new Speaker on the work that he will do. I’m so excited to be back in the Senate. I’m so excited for the work that I have to do as the new Chair of the Committee of Ways and Means and Chair also of the Committee on Sustainable Development. 

So, we want to be judged on the work that we do. That’s an open book, and we want to really do the kind of job that will make the Filipinos proud that they elected us. Let’s make it clear, we were elected. 

Reporter: Ma’am, does it also mean that you as part of the Senate or Congress will not support the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill? 

Sen. Pia: No. I’ve always said and you can always just refer to my statements on this. I always have an open mind on any issue that is brought on the floor. That has always been the position I’ve taken. 

I may have biases, so when you look… I did a quick scan on the political dynasty bills, and there are different definitions of political dynasty. So… it’s my job to have an open mind and to look at it. 

Reporter: ‘Yung Dissolution of Marriage Bill niyo po, can you explain lang, divorce po ba ito? Ano po ang mga magiging changes nito compared sa annulment?

Sen. Pia: That’s a very good question. And I think ang question niyo should be directed at those people who do not like the term “divorce.” You should ask them what they mean by dissolution of marriage versus divorce because I do not know.

I humbly have to say that I do not know what the difference is, but as one of the authors of the bill in the House of Representatives, I believe it was entitled, “Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage” precisely to address the discomfort that some had with the term, “divorce.”

But if may difference ‘yun, the title is there… But ako naman, as the author here also in the Senate, happy naman ako to listen to any and all concerns. I’m just happy that it’s being discussed.

For the record, there are three kinds of bills that were filed in the House. And I’ve refiled so far two of them – the Absolute Divorce or Dissolution [of Marriage], that’s one. And then the other one is the Foreign Divorce, which is actually already an existing form of divorce, actually the only form of divorce recognized in our Family Code. 

We just fine-tuned some details, which we were told for the last almost decade na it becomes a stumbling block for making that provision in the existing Family Code easy to use. It’s become very cumbersome for people to use because of lack of clarity. So ‘yun lang ‘yung sa Foreign Divorce.

Reporter: Ma’am, sa dissolution of marriage, paano siya naiba sa annulment, ma’am?

Sen. Pia: If you look at Article 36 on Annulment, the only ground there is the psychological incapacity. That is the existing ground that we have under our Family Code. So the grounds for divorce that I filed, there are more grounds. Some of them are similar to the grounds for legal separation. So that’s the easiest way.

You know what, I’d be very happy to have a forum on this and to answer more questions, kasi well it’s something that I’ve really worked on and I really believe in, so I’m happy to answer questions para walang… para people would understand, parang FAQs. 

Reporter: Why do you think is it time for the Philippines to legalize divorce?

Sen. Pia: My answer to that is based on scientific evidence. We went to three countries, [for consultations held by] the House of Representatives, where we had a lot of kababayans. 

I would say it’s partly because of that one bill, that is on the Foreign Divorce, because we have so many kababayans who are married to foreigners. But we also realized that so many of our kababayans are married to Filipinos and therefore, their need would be a regular divorce or dissolution of marriage. 

And so we went to Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Japan, and we had hearings in the House and I have met with so many groups espousing divorce, and the stories are so sad. I hear one story, I think, “Wow, this is the worst,” and then I hear another story, it’s about mostly women – but of course it applies to both – women who after their husbands have left them, beaten them up, had another family, had other wives, they’re still supporting that man. Because under the law, they are required to support the man. 

And even – in this particular story – even her grown children were saying, “Nay, iwanan mo na si Tatay.” Eh pero she feels that she has a legal obligation, a moral obligation, until ma-divorce ‘yun. Baka sabihin niyo, ba’t hindi annulment? Eh kasi sa annulment, some of them don’t want to avail of it, because wala naman daw silang psychological incapacity to fulfill their obligations. Pinaninindigan nila na hindi sila pasok doon. 

You can… As soon as we start discussing this, I know that my Facebook will be flooded with questions on divorce. Kahit anong topic ang pag-usapan, laging meron pa ring bumabalik sa divorce. And all over the country, during the campaign, I was asked repeatedly about it…

Reporter: Have you looked at the chances here in the Senate?

Sen. Pia: I haven’t really bothered. As you know nga, the committees that I will be chairing this Congress are new to me. So, dun ako naka-focus. I haven’t really had time. It’s just that I’ve also read what you’ve read na most people tend to be open-minded because they’ve also heard stories of people they know, people who come to them. So I’d like to believe, I’d like to hope that people would have an open mind. 

And what I always reiterate, for those who are against it, you don’t have to avail of it. For those who are against it, in your own church, in your own religious organization, you can continue to believe what you want to believe. That is your supreme right. And never ko po aapakan or never ko… Wala ho akong karapatan na kwestyunin ang paniniwala ng mga tao when it comes to spiritual and religious reasons. 

But when it comes to legal, it is my obligation to have an open mind and pass laws that will be applicable to all Filipinos who want to avail of it. Kasi remember, this is a kind of law that is not mandatory, this is a kind of law people can avail of. ‘Yun ‘yun eh, may difference ‘yun. 

Reporter: So parang it’s a privilege?

Sen. Pia: Let’s say it’s an option. Baka mamaya may legal implication pa ‘yung privilege. It’s an option. 

Reporter: Sorry ma’am, additional grounds, irreconcilable differences, ano pa ‘yung mga possible grounds?

Sen. Pia: Give me time na balikan ko ‘yun, kasi ganun ako eh. Move on na ako sa ibang bills after napasa ‘yun sa House. I was hoping napasa na ‘yun sa [17th] Congress. Let me just go back to it and then I’ll discuss it further.

Reporter: Last na po, aside from the grounds, what else are the advantages of divorce over annulment? Kasi sabi nila may annulment na nga bakit pa may divorce?

Sen. Pia: Ah hindi. Kasi if you look at our provision on Annulment, any law student can tell you, we have one article on it. That’s it. One article – Article 36. There’s actually no provisions on support, they just use by analogy other provisions on support. There are no provisions on the procedure, so the bill that we filed, the bill that is the product of the House… 

I’ll reiterate ‘House,’ kasi I was in the House of Representatives, lagay niyo na lang ‘yun as background, baka malito ang ibang tao na what I’m talking about na bill na na-hear, that was while I was in the House. This is a product of lengthy discussions and so there’s a lot more details in it, including support, including what is known in other countries as alimony, napag-usapan din ‘yun kasi issue ‘yun. Some believe na in other countries, dahil sa walang forever, pero ‘yung support may forever. So mabigat daw, mabigat. 

So we had long discussions about that, and we tried to look for middle ground na there would be, if I remember right, please let’s confirm it lang, three years of support for the spouse who was dependent on the working spouse. Kasi ‘yung objective nga is mag-move on ka na, try to get gainfully employed also, give that person enough time to also gainfully…

But I wanna have an open mind about it if kailangan longer, kasi the objective din naman is to not abandon the spouse who dedicated their life to being a homemaker, whether it’s a man or a woman, it applies both ways.

But kaya ko rin naisip na hindi rin tama na ‘yung forever kasi paano kung ‘yung breadwinner, katulad ng mga na-meet ko na OFW? Tapos 20 years na siyang nagtatrabaho dun, sinusuportahan niya ang asawa niya, and then worst case, ‘yung asawa niya na nambabae na nagkaanak na sa iba, baka siya pa magbibigay ng support forever because siya ang technically working, you know what I mean? 

So you have to weigh these things. Sasabihin, yeah, pero si mister naman sa bahay ‘yung nag-aalaga ng mga anak, pero nangaliwa din siya. So iba-balance mo rin lahat ‘yun eh. So, I can’t pretend that there’s a simple, easy, hundred percent fair, but we have to do our best.

Reporter: ‘Yung finile niyo po, that was the same bill that was passed in the House last [17th] Congress?

Sen. Pia: Yes, but I’m very open pa to even making my own amendments to it.

Reporter: So kung ano ang pumasa sa House, ‘yun ang ni-refile niyo?

Sen. Pia: Oo, kasi you have to remember, that was a product of members of the House. Eh nandito na ako [Senate, 18th Congress], so kapag nandito naman ako, minsan naman nagkakaroon din ako ng bagong ideas, and then syempre… Ano naman ‘yun, kumbaga free for all ulit.

[Inaudible question]

Sen. Pia: Ay tapos na siya, pasado siya [by the House in the 17th Congress]. Oo, walang nangyari dito [sa Senate in the 17th Congress].

[Inaudible question]

Sen. Pia: That’s a good question, I have to say that it’s kinda my observation also, I don’t know kung may survey talaga. But it’s kinda my observation pagka ganun, ‘yung mga babae, “Yes!” Ta’s ‘yung mga lalaki, “‘Wag na ‘yan…”

Reporter: Pero do you find it a relief na ‘yung mga [inaudible – senators] most of them at least open to discussion?

Sen. Pia: Ganito, sa dami ng trabaho ko, kasi nga ‘yung mga bagong committees ko, and again, I have to emphasize ‘yung Committee on Sustainable Development, andaming sakop nun, syempre happy ako kung kahit anong bill na sinusulong ko maraming support, dahil mababawasan din ‘yung trabaho ko dahil wala na ako masyadong kukumbinsihin. So I’m always happy naman na open-minded, or may support, or willing to discuss, I’m always happy. Thank you!# 

Senator Pia Cayetano answers questions from the Senate media.

Statement on priority tax reform measures

In past Congresses, I focused on the delivery  of social services like education and health.
Now, I have the opportunity to continue this advocacy from a finance perspective. 

As chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, I look forward to working with our counterparts in the House of Representatives and our economic managers led by the Finance Department in exploring ways to fund social services for our people. 

I have started consultations with the DOF and soon will conduct hearings, open to all sectors. Our goal is to ensure steady, sustainable development to uplift the lives of the Filipino families.#

Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Chair, Senate Committee on Ways and Means

Senator Pia Cayetano leads a consultation with officials of Ways Ways the Department of Finance to discuss the government’s priority tax reforms.

Pia pushes for sustainable cities, transportation

A green, bikeable, and walkable Metro Manila? It can be done!

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for two measures that she hopes would augur the transformation of Metro Manila and other urban centers in the country into sustainable cities and communities. 

Cayetano’s Senate Bill No.65, the ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities Act,’ envisions urban centers and human settlements that are ‘inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable,’ in line with the country’s commitments under Goal 11 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

The bill tasks local governments to ensure public access to social services, preferential use of renewable resources, efficient waste management systems, as well as reliable mass transport, among others.

Under the measure, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) shall set targets based on key indicators to determine whether a city or community has fully transitioned into a sustainable city or community.

The NEDA indicators shall measure how local governments units (LGUs) are managing urban population living in slums, public transportation access, sustainable urbanization rate (ratio of land utilization to population growth rate), and urban planning. 

The targets would also factor in the performance of local governments with respect to cultural heritage protection, disaster preparedness, pollution control, and solid waste management. 

The bill assigns the Department of interior and Local Government to provide technical assistance to LGUs, while NEDA would come up with an incentive system for local governments that are able to meet their sustainable development targets.

On the other hand, Cayetano’s Senate Bill No.66, or the ‘Sustainable Transportation Act,’ seeks to promote mobility options to serve the people’s changing needs, such as walking, biking, and efficient mass transportation. 

The bill pushes for sustainable and alternative modes of transport, not just to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to cut time and travel costs, and to promote an active lifestyle among citizens. 

It mandates the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to come up with a Sustainable Transport Action Plan that shall lay down the roadmap for national and local transportation systems to be adhered to in all levels throughout the country. 

Some highlights of the Sustainable Transport Action Plan are as follows: 

-Installation of walkways;

– Designation of bike lanes and provision of bike racks and parking spaces;

-Public transportation as primary mobility option to the general public;

– Establishment of a ferry system; 

– Commissioning of a bus rapid transit system; and

– Travel demand management programs (which includes promotion of car pooling and telecommuting programs). 

Known as a biker and fitness enthusiast, Cayetano said it is high time to revisit our way of thinking and lifestyle in order to safeguard people’s health and the environment. 

She cited the successful rehabilitation of Boracay and current efforts to clean up urban sidewalks, waterways, and public places of obstructions by newly elected mayors of Metro Manila as encouraging signs that urban renewal is possible.

“We need political will at the local level to enforce laws and ordinances to put our cities in order, but it’s also the task of government to set an overall vision to achieve sustainable cities and communities. And so we hope to provide that vision with these two measures,” Cayetano concluded. #

Senator Pia S. Cayetano at the bike lane along Laguna Lake Highway (C6) in Taguig City: It’s the task of government to set an overall vision to achieve sustainable development.

Pia files first 10 bills in support of PH development goals

Returning senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed her first 10 bills in the Senate with the aim of fulfilling her campaign promise to champion legislation that will help achieve the country’s development goals. 

Her proposed measures, Cayetano stressed, are anchored on the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations (UN) Member-States, including the Philippines, in 2015.

The PDP 2017-2022 is the first medium-term plan launched by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) under the Duterte administration, leading to a vision known as “AmBisyon Natin 2040,” where Filipino families are seen to enjoy a “strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life” in 25 years.

The SDGs, meanwhile, are a collection of 17 global goals set by the UN General Assembly, with strategies geared towards improving health and education, reducing inequality, spurring economic growth, and addressing climate change.
In line with these goals, Cayetano filed her first batch of bills in the Senate and plans to file more measures in the coming weeks to address challenges hindering sustainable and inclusive growth for the country. 

Furthermore, she vowed to continue focusing on her long-time advocacies as a legislator, including education, health, women and family welfare, and sustainable communities.

Among Cayetano’s priority measures are:

1. Alternative Child Care Code of the Philippines 

2. Educational Roadmap Act 

3. Priority Health Infrastructure Act (Build, Build, Build for Health)

4. Priority Infrastructure for Public Higher Education Institutions Act (Build, Build, Build for Education)

5. Sustainable Cities and Communities Act

6. Sustainable Transportation Act

7. Act Recognizing the Foreign Decree of Termination of Marriage

8. Amendments to the Family Code of the Philippines (to ensure the equality of men and women under the laws of marriage and family relations) 

9. Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act

10. Act Providing for Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education (Teachers salary increase)

“We already have a set of goals that we envision for future generations of Filipinos. What we need is a comprehensive action plan to ensure that our goals will be met,” Cayetano said.

“For my part, I will continue what I started since my first term as a legislator and push for more laws to empower Filipinos through education, proper healthcare services, children and family welfare policies, and sustainable development,” the senator concluded.#