We must embrace innovation

Speech of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Bridging Innovation between Israel and the Philippines
Photo exhibit, November 28, 2022

Good afternoon, everyone, and a warm welcome to all our guests, especially Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines, His Excellency Ilan Fluss. Thank you so much for coming to the Senate and embarking on this amazing, I don’t want to say introductory, but amazing strengthening of our partnerships, particularly with innovation as the focal point.

And I’d like to make special mention of our guests who are here to show full support, not just for this initiative, but for the coming initiatives and programs on innovation…

DICT USec. Jocelle Sigue; DOST Usec. Lea Buendia; Dean Lizan Calina of DAP; and of course, our own Senate Secretary General Renato Bantug Jr.

So let me give a very short description of my work. Last Congress, three-and-a-half years ago, the Senate, for the very first time, put up a Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. This came about because of my own studies on futures thinking and my long-time participation in then the Millennium Development Goals, which then turned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and of course my interest in innovation. So this is the 4th year that the Senate has a committee of this nature.

And our goal is to track where we are with our SDGs, prepare for various futures, and shift our mindset to futures thinking as a major policy reform.

Many times in government, and not just in the Senate, we are confronted with situations which require immediately putting out the fire, and that prevents us from really innovating and investing in long-term solutions, including innovative solutions. So the goal really is every step of the way, we apply futures thinking, so we explore different outcomes – good, bad, worst, best – and then we prepare for all, but obviously we try to move in the direction of the outcomes we really want for our country.

So innovation and futures thinking can support government policymaking in the following ways:

•Better anticipation to identify and prepare sooner for new opportunities and challenges that could emerge in the future.

•Policy innovation to spur new thinking about the best policies to address these new opportunities and challenges

•Future-proofing to stress-test existing or proposed strategies against a range of future scenarios

There’s a lot I can say about this. We have a session at 3 o’clock. We have an interesting speaker that I’d rather hear, other than give a lecture on SDGs and futures thinking. But let me just highlight food security, which is an issue in the Philippines of more than 100 million Filipinos.

I think I was a child [when] we were made to memorize certain data about the Philippines, including the population, and maybe Secretary Bantug, you can refresh my memory, we are roughly from the same era. Weren’t we children around the time our population was 40 million? Oh see? So we both memorized the same, 40 million. So it went up to 60, 80, and now over 100 [million]. And how do we efficiently feed, nutritionally feed, because we can feed but not nutritionally feed, over 100 million Filipinos on a day-to-day basis? So even when we talk about, hear news about children who go to bed hungry, who have less than 3 meals a day, I can almost guarantee that the one or two meals they have are not even necessarily healthy meals.

Anyway, I am forcing myself to move out of that topic just in the interest of moving on. On healthcare, I am a health policy advocate and legislator. I chaired the Committee on Health for around a decade. And I now handle the budget of the Department of Health. So it is a passion of mine. For those who don’t know me, my inspiration for being a senator is because I had a father who was a senator and who died in office from liver cancer, but my youngest brother donated his liver. So this was a cutting-edge innovation then, I don’t know how common it is now. So my younger brother gave two-thirds of his liver. And that was the only time that I realized that, ‘oh you can donate a liver. You can share your liver.’ It’s not something I was aware of because we’re usually aware of kidneys. You have two kidneys, you can give one. Apparently, you can also share your liver, so my brother shared two-thirds of his liver to give our father life.

But before that life-changing event, I had a child who had Trisomy 13, a chromosomal disorder that as they say, is not compatible with life. And so at the end, no health innovation to date can maybe improve the quality of life of children who are survivors of this or living with this condition. But unless they discover something that can change the chromosomal concerns that happens in a child with trisomy, there is not yet an innovation that can change it. But it gave birth to my interest in health, and eventually my becoming a senator focused on healthcare and innovation.

Again, I have much more to say. I’m Asia-Pacific Chapter Chair of UNITE Parliamentarians for Global Health. I have always been a strong advocate for global partnerships, which is exactly why I am here today, and I continue to try to learn from our neighbors both regionally and worldwide.

Water sustainability is also very close to my heart. So you’ll never forget my birthday, it’s on International Water Day [March 22]. You can look it up. But that’s my birthday…

So there, let me end this, because I am excited to look at the photos, as the Ambassador said, these may just be photos, but these will give us a glimpse of what Israeli innovation can do, and maybe one of our dreams is to have an interactive museum, where not just photos, but we can have children and even adults learn about it through more interactive means, whether it’s bringing in more footages or tactile materials that would make it exciting.

Let me end on a very happy note. Before my life as a senator, I was an entrepreneur, I am a lawyer by training, but I am a passionate entrepreneur, and one of the businesses I brought in, I was a young mother so obviously I was inspired by being a mother and having babies and wanting intelligent babies. I bought products made by an Israeli company called TinyLab. I don’t know if it still exists, but I met them in a US children’s trade fair, and their product was, it may not have been digital at that time, this was probably circa, turn of the century, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002. But the products were infant and child development products, using research that shows that infants can see contrasting colors.

We grew up in a time where we show pink to baby girls and blue to baby boys, and they are all pastel colors. Well it turns out that the infants’ eyes are not fully developed, and so what they see are contrasting colors like black and white. So I was one of the first mothers who invested. And my mom, being a preschool teacher, made my babies their own black and white cards. And eventually, I found this company, TinyLab, which had all these fun and innovative products for infants.

Anyway, like I said, let me end on that happy note. Hello, and I welcome our dear colleague, who recently celebrated his birthday, kung hindi niyo pa nabati, batiin niyo, Sen. Robin Padilla.

So I end on that note, I am very happy that our colleague has joined us. I think we should never be afraid of innovations. We should never be afraid of using our intelligence, our intellect to explore what is out there. God gave us a brain, and I always say, let’s use it. So on that note, I am excited to have the ribbon cutting commence. Thank you. #

Senator Pia Cayetano and Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines, His Excellency Ilan Fluss, lead the opening of an exhibit at the Senate entitled, ‘Bridging Innovation between Israel and the Philippines.’ Joining them are: Nir Balzam, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel in Manila; Or Haviv of leading Israel technology innovator Arieli Capital; Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Robin Padilla, and Senate Secretary General Renato Bantug Jr. The exhibit showcases Israel’s leading role in global technological innovations. (Senate PRIB)
Senator Pia Cayetano welcomes to the Senate plenary Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines, His Excellency Ilan Fluss and Arieli Capital’s Or Haviv.

A call for sustainability

Speech calling for the promotion of sustainability practices in the Senate

We recently passed Republic Act No. 11898, otherwise known as the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) Act of the EPR, which amends the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, requiring large-scale enterprises to recover the plastic packaging wastes they produce.

The sponsor of the measure, Sen. Cynthia Villar, is here. I mentioned to her that I will be delivering this speech and, of course, the original sponsor of the law, RA 9003, the Solid Waste Management Act, is no other than Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda.

I also authored and sponsored a law requiring that it is taught in school, and it is included in the curriculum, for the students to understand the importance of the environment, and this be tailored to the particular areas where they live.

In the hearing on the EPR, DENR stated that 21 million tonnes of solid waste was generated in 2019. 21 million tonnes. About 10.55% of this are plastics.

Sen. Villar, in her opening statement, said almost 164 million pieces of sachets are used in the Philippines daily, equating to around 59.7 billion pieces of sachets yearly. Wow, that’s overwhelming. Nung bata ako, and umamin kayo ng edad niyo, wala namang sachet. Kapag pumunta ka sa tindahan, ang meron naman doon, garapon, tapos sa loob ng garapon, andoon ang kailangan mo. Iisa-isa. Ngayon, uso na si sachet.

Sen. Villar further stated that the amount of wastes in the country has reached 18.05 million tonnes, with Metro Manila contributing 26% of this waste generation. She further states, our wastes are composed of the following:

•50% are biodegradable, in a sense that is good news, we just have to segregate that better;
•15% are plastics;
•15% are paper; and
•20% are miscellaneous

Alright. With this data, let’s now look inward and ask ourselves, what can we do in our own institutions, in our work-home, to address this?

Dear colleagues, we don’t just suddenly wake up to a sustainable lifestyle. This happens, and I am now calling the attention of the athletes in the Senate, which include the birthday boy, Majority Floor Leader Sen. Joel Villanueva, the Chairman of the Committee on Finance Sen. Sonny Angara, ang ating mga avid basketball players, being able to play well on the court, in the field, doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with day-to-day habits, day-to-day changes which may seem small at first but collectively and overtime, they result in big changes.

As your Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, it is my duty to bring the concept of sustainability into the discussions and debates every day. We should take sustainability in consideration in how we work and conduct business in the Senate, and ideally outside of the Senate as well.

Also, I’d like to introduce the concept of intergenerational fairness, where we put ourselves 20-30 years or more into the future. There is a country… they look at intergenerational fairness 7 generations away. Ako nga sabi ko nga, kahit 20-30 years happy na ako. We look into the future and prepare for a future that the next generation will thank us for. And our laws must reflect this.

So what have we done in the Senate? In 2010, upon my initiative and in partnership with a non-governmental office, Mother Earth Foundation, we created a Materials Recovery Facility, which was set up in the Senate parking lot. For those who don’t know, a Materials Recovery Facility takes the place of a dump. In other words, in that facility, sine-segregate. So if you look closely at the photos, and maybe next time, I will ask instead of a collage, separate photos to see clearly, segregated are the PET bottles, cartons, papers, and other types of trash that come out of our offices, dear colleagues. These come out of our offices. Hindi ito galing sa ibang lugar. These came out of our offices noong 2010. I doubt if there is much difference, umiinom pa rin tayo ng tubig, gumagamit pa rin tayo ng papel, so malamang, ganoon pa rin yun.

But the good news is, after this was created in 2010, and this included a program that allowed us to comply, we had a no waste segregation, no collection policy, which means kung hindi tayo mag-segregate sa kanya-kanyang opisina natin, hindi iko-collect ang basura. The result was amazing. It resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the solid waste generated by the Senate, as reported by the General Service Department one month after. The frequency of hauling services was also reduced from once a week to once every two weeks, twice a month na lang naghahakot sa atin. So nabawasan ang contribution ng basura natin sa Pilipinas.

In the 18th Congress, I also held hearings on SDG 12, on responsible consumption and production, before the pandemic. The idea was to explore solutions on reducing plastic wastes and other wastes. As I said, the EPR is now a law, and although the focus is on the responsibility of large producers that use plastic packaging such as sachets, food containers, single-use plastics, including plastic bags, straws, cutlery and more, as the sponsor of the measure, Sen. Villar said, this does not prevent the medium and small sized companies from embarking on the same measure to contribute to a better country, a better planet.

So this is where the challenge lies, dear colleagues. Paano naman tayo? Paano naman ang contribution natin? This is something that we need to think about and that is the subject of my privilege speech. Especially during the time of COVID, dumami talaga ang single-use plastic, pati ang mga take out containers and mga COVID-related wastes. The medical waste created by COVID should really be the subject of another speech. I’d be happy to deliver it, unless somebody else would like to do that. During the pandemic, I also raised the issue of improper disposal with DENR. So like I said, we can talk about this another time.

So, one of the first manifestations I made in the 18th Congress is to return to the better practices that we initiated in 2011, and this includes, among many others, going paperless. So dear colleagues, I will illustrate for you…

I’ll put on the record, Sen. Jinggoy, Sen. Angara, Sen. Villar, Sen. Robin, nataranta na tulungan ako, and Sen. Robinhood even offered to carry me as well…

Anyway, dear colleagues, example lang ito. Order of business, journal. Every day, you will see that on your table. Every day, andyan yan. I leave it up to you if you read this during session, during the night, your staff reads it. Kanya-kanyang style yun. But in the last Congress, I requested na hindi na ako bigyan. I would read it on my Ipad, to save on paper. But I don’t impose that on anyone. It is a choice that you make. Now, is it hard to transfer to digital?

Dear colleagues, I defended all the tax measures digitally. So kung kinaya ko yun, kaya natin. It was a challenge, believe me. And to think I am a visual person, I am literally the type of person that needs different colored post-its. Pero kaya, if we want. But I am not saying it has to be that way. Everybody should do whatever they are comfortable with. But I illustrated this to show you that this is the kind of paper we generate. In a few months… This is Sen. Mark Villar’s folder that I stole. In a few months, all of this will be filled with bills and resolutions. This will be full, for the information of our new colleagues, mapupuno yan. The binder is a three-inch binder. Mapupuno yan, hindi mo na yan ma-flip. Is it even the copy that you use to write your notes? Most likely, hindi. Most likely, you will have another set of notes. So we all have to decide what we can do on our own, to do our part in lessening the paper. Again, there will be the MRF anyway, so kung ano naman ang ginamit natin, madadala din naman sa MRF and ire-recyle.

Now that is with respect to paper. With respect to tumblers, and I wanna show 2 pictures, I am very proud of my colleagues, nilubos-lubos niyo ang niregalo ko sa inyo na bamboo tumblers. Maraming salamat.

I was very proud and my colleagues were also very proud, Sen. Grace would show it to me, Sen. Manny, and many of you who are not even in the video, would use it. And I am sure buhay pa yan somewhere in your office and in your homes.

On that note, before I go to my next point, I wanna show the other slide, which is where one of my call to action comes in, which is the hearings. Nanawagan din tayo at nasunod naman na naging policy that we don’t use PET bottles in the hearings. And we actually put in the invitation to attend the hearing a notice to the resource persons to bring their own tumbler because we have a water dispenser. Sinunod naman nila. So I’d really like that to be imposed, that we continue to do this so that we can really make a difference in the country.

Now, for the sake of our new colleagues, I will also provide you with my gift to help you become more sustainable. So, I’ve asked Sen. Robin Padilla to help me carry, kaya ko naman buhatin but I don’t mind na may assistant akong tumutulong sa akin, mga personalized bottles para po sa inyong lahat, para talagang manindigan tayo sa ating trabaho na maging examples.

Actually, Sen. Bong Go has his [bamboo tumbler], thank you. That’s the proof of sustainability. Now my other demo, Sen. Robin, pahingi ng isang sample. Ayan. Okay, ito ang sa ‘yo. Dito ka sa tabi ko please para makita ng Senate President.

My dear colleagues, itong hawak ni Sen. Robin, 24 ounces. Imagine, ito ang bigay ko sa dating Congress, mas maliit, pero 3 years na, ginagamit pa. Dear colleagues, tingnan niyo naman ito [shows plastic pet bottles], itong apat, laman lang ng isa. So sa isang araw na nakikipagdebate tayo, madaling umubos ng apat, diba? So sa isang araw pa lang, tipid na tayo sa apat. Multiply that by the number of days, sa dami ng away, sa dami ng debate, kailangan uminom ng tubig, yun ho ang purpose nun, to illustrate. Thank you very much.

And then, on a further note, ito naman was just brought about by a conversation with Sen. Loren yesterday, I’d like to thank her because in our lounge today, nagdala siya ng sariling ani ng kanyang farm. At kinain na ni Sen. Robin kanina, yung mga lettuce, kung ano-ano andoon. Tapos nakita niya ang kinakain ko, sabi niya saan galing ang kinakain mo, sabi ko baon ko.

Ito naman ang baunan ko [shows lunch bag]. So if you noticed, lahat ng nagpapa-birthday, kinain ko pa nung gabi ang pa-birthday niyo kasi binabaon ko ang mga tira-tira natin doon, and of course, we also share that with whoever. I am just saying na mula noong grade school ako, may baon baon akong lunchbox, may baon pa rin akong lunchbox, Shopee lang ito. Kung sino may gusto, ako na bahala sa inyo, let me know kung gusto niyo rin magbaon. Especially the bachelors living alone, pero baka naman may nagluluto na para sa ating bachelors. Bahala na kayo doon…

So, Mr. President, if I may end with my call to action. Let’s ban the use of PET bottles in the Senate. But, well, encourage and request everyone to bring their own jug because if they plan to drink and be hydrated while they are here, then they can do that. What the Senate can do, and I will happily donate 100 jugs, hindi naman siguro ganitong personalized, pero I will have 100 more there in case nakalimutan mo. Hindi, baso lang naman pala. Baso lang sa sariling mga office natin, diba? Kung hindi kayo magdadala ng sarili niyong bottles or jugs.

Ban the use of sachets. Medyo maayos naman magpasweldo ang Senate, hindi ho ba? Kanino ko ba ide-direct ang tanong ko, to the Senate President or accounts chair? But I think maayos magpasweldo ang Senate. Siguro hindi naman tayo nagtitipid na naka-sachet, we can afford to buy the bigger containers of soap, dishwashing detergent, whatever, so that we can be more economical in the use of these kinds of products which tend to come in sachets, and are sometimes the go-to. We can also ban that in the Senate, your honors.

And then, yung no waste, no segregation pickup. Again, like I said, sustainability does not happen overnight. For this to happen, kailangan tayo mag-retrain. And we should get experts to help in every office to train us so that we can live that way. Sen. Loren is nodding her head, baka siya na mismo mag-offer. But anyway, like I said, the Senate has worked with a foundation, Mother Earth trained us to do that.

The other one, which is not an imposition, but maybe we can ask the Secretariat to continually study and make their own recommendations. But maybe we can have a team that makes these kinds of recommendations so that we will be always looking for ways to live and work more sustainably. And this should be data driven. So ang request ko, after we decide on all of this, let’s have data to show how many PET bottles did we no longer buy.

I am not saying we should not support the companies that provide us with distilled, mineral water. They can still provide that with the 5-gallon containers, that’s all I am saying. Hindi naman po sinasabing mag-DIY tayong lahat. Meron pwedeng i-DIY, meron din naman pwedeng binibili pa rin sa recognized suppliers. So that’s my point. I mean I know we have a gender office, [but] do we have a sustainability office? Maybe we can, maybe the Senate President can put together, maybe Sen. Loren, maybe you want to be the one to show it or ako na? Gift niya sa akin, okay. So nagregalo siya sa akin ng wooden, bamboo spoon and fork. So as my speech ends, magme-merienda na ako… I love it, the straw. Alam ko, umamin kayo, marami sa inyo mahilig sa milk tea, ayan na, huwag na kayong gumamit ng plastic straw. Not only is it not biodegradable, but it can actually choke marine animals and the soft plastic can strangle them, napipilay sila, it gets woven around their feet. Meron pa pala ditong bottle cleaner.

Okay, I think that comes to the end of my speech, your honors. I also have tumblers for the Secretariat. Pero doon sa ibang staff, pwede kanya-kanya na kayong regalo sa mga staff niyo? Bibigay ko na lang ang pangalan ng iba’t ibang supplier.

Thank you, Mr. President. #

In a privilege speech, Senator Pia Cayetano said the Senate can lead by example in promoting sustainability and environment-friendly practices, such as banning pet water bottles in sessions and hearings, and reducing the use of paper. Assisted by Senator Robinhood Padilla, Senator Pia gave personalized water tumblers to her colleagues and Senate officials in plenary.

Pia’s first ten bills seek sustainability, education, future-proofing PH

Ensuring the sustainability of vital government programs, raising the level of education of the youth to become globally competitive, and future-proofing the Philippines for domestic and external shocks were the overarching themes of the first ten bills filed by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in the 19th Congress.

Cayetano, who chaired the Senate’s very first committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking in the previous 18th Congress, bared the list of her top ten measures for the new Congress, which officially opens session on July 25, as follows:

  1. Education Roadmap Act
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act
  3. Sustainability-Based Budgeting Act
  4. Sports Excellence Roadmap Act
  5. Increasing the Minimum Age of Access to Tobacco at 21 Years Old Act
  6. Water Sustainability Act
  7. Philippine Nursing Act amendments
  8. Sustainable Cities and Communities Act
  9. Safe Pathways Network Act
  10. Sustainable Transportation Act

“These bills are forward-looking and aim to prepare our nation better for the challenges ahead, while never losing sight of our sustainable development goals,” Cayetano explained, as she noted how the country faces the confluence of global public health and socio-economic crises.

“The health measures were drawn from our hard-earned lessons in the last two years in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to further strengthen our healthcare system to provide services for our people,” she added.

She said that the proposed Education Roadmap Act aims to produce Filipino graduates who are well-rounded and competitive, amid the rapidly changing demands of industries and the knowledge-based global economy.

“Aside from acquiring the so-called ‘four Cs’ of 21st Century skills – namely, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity – this bill is primarily aimed to help our students regain our edge in English proficiency, which we are fast losing,” she emphasized.

“English proficiency is a vital skill that has made Filipino workers and professionals in demand abroad, and has prompted multinational companies to invest heavily in the country’s IT-Business Process Management industry (IT-BPM),” she noted.

For the health sector, Cayetano emphasized legislation on two fronts: strengthening our healthcare structure, and sustaining support for our medical frontliners, particularly our nurses, who comprise the backbone of our health system.

It is for these reasons that Cayetano filed the bill establishing the country’s own Center for Disease Control and Prevention or PH CDC, and proposed amendments to the Philippine Nursing Act.

To recall, it was Cayetano who principally sponsored RA 9711, the 2009 law that established the Philippines’ own Food and Drug Administration, or PH FDA – which currently plays a key role in the government’s pandemic response.

Similarly, she is pushing for the establishment of the PH CDC as the Department of Health’s lead agency for the early detection of emerging diseases, and to formulate response measures for public health emergencies.

Recognizing the need to support the needs and development of the country’s nursing professionals, Cayetano filed a bill amending the Philippine Nursing Act to provide nurses with opportunities for continuing education and professional growth, as well as recognition and commensurate compensation for their specialized areas of work.

In addition, the senator has filed a measure pegging at 21 years old the minimum age of access to cigarettes and tobacco products.

“This will protect the health and wellbeing of the youth, and will make our policy consistent with the current minimum age of access to vapes and e-cigarettes at 21 under the Sin Tax Law of 2020, or RA 11467,” the senator noted.

Senator Cayetano wants sustainability to be the guiding framework in the budget programs of both the national government and local government units (LGUs), in the planning, development, and integration of cities and communities, in reorienting vital services like mass transportation and infrastructure, and in efficiently managing the country’s water resources.

To this end, Cayetano filed the following related measures: the Sustainability-Based Budgeting Act; Water Sustainability Act; Sustainable Cities and Communities Act; Sustainable Transportation Act; and lastly, the Safe Pathways Act – which seeks to develop a national network of bicycle lanes and ‘slow streets’ to promote and ensure the safety of cycling, walking, and the use of alternative modes of mobility.

Finally, Senator Pia, together with her brother, returning Senator Alan Cayetano, have jointly authored a measure that applies the same principles of sustainability and futures thinking in the development of Philippine Sports.

The Cayetanos’ co-authored bill, the Sports Excellence Roadmap Act, aims to lay down a 20-year road map to produce elite world-class athletes, which will be anchored on a solid grassroots program, as well as sustained training, exposure, and support for our national athletes and chosen focus sports. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
Ensuring the sustainability of vital government programs, raising the level of education of the youth, and future-proofing the Philippines for domestic and external shocks were the overarching themes of the first ten bills filed by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in the 19th Congress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Pia Cayetano
Senator Pia Cayetano at the Senate session hall

Pia seeks budget anchored on programs promoting SDGs

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is urging the country’s top economic planning agency to come up with specific budgetary targets anchored on helping the  government achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The Chair of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano led the panel’s hearing on Thursday (July 16) to discuss the future of transportation for the new normal and beyond.

The senator has been actively pushing for sustainable transportation, including the integration of mass transport systems with infrastructure that support active modes of mobility, including more walkways and bike lanes.

During the hearing, Cayetano urged the National Economic and Development Academy (NEDA) to propose a budget strategy aimed at fulfilling the country’s growth targets under the United Nations’ SDGs and the country’s own AmBisyon Natin 2040.

“Given that NEDA is the agency tasked to oversee these goals, it would be very relevant for this committee if you can really put targets in terms of budgeting to promote sustainability,” she said.

The senator said realigning our budget to incentivize sustainable activities would allow the government to maximize its resources in a way that the country would “always move in the direction of sustainability.”

“If there will be fewer counterproductive activities, then we might be able to spend more for sustainable ones. For instance, if we can reduce expenses in addressing the detrimental effects of pollution on our people’s health, then more resources could be used to build (green) infrastructure.”

Cayetano also expressed her willingness to hold dialogues and work with different agencies and stakeholders to convince more decision-makers to support funding for the SDGs.

“These are discussions we need to have about budgeting for the SDGs [and] creating the right environment to promote investments that are sustainable in nature,” the senator concluded. #

Futures Thinking will be crucial in the post-COVID world

“A Futures Thinking mindset is crucial in the post-COVID world.”

This was the key takeaway of Senator Pia S. Cayetano from the first virtual public hearing she conducted in the Senate which invited futures thinking experts who talked about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and what the future holds for the Philippines and the world.

The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, which Cayetano chairs, held a hearing on Tuesday (May 12) to discuss with experts the necessary innovations and strategies in adapting to the ‘new normal’ amid the health crisis which severely disrupted lives, economies, and institutions across the globe.

“We all know that these are very challenging times for all of us. And it’s really important that the different sectors in government, our NGOs [non-government organizations], and private citizens are able to avail of the best information there is worldwide to help us better understand what it means to use Futures Thinking as a tool to effectively plan for the new normal,” Cayetano stressed.

Leading the panel of experts in the hearing was futurist professor Dr. Sohail Inayatullah, who was awarded the first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chairmanship in Futures Studies in 2015.  Also invited were Dr. Tuomo Kuosa and Saku Koskinen, directors of Futures Platform, a Helsinki, Finland-based technology company that specializes in futures thinking and foresight analyses.

The resource persons offered insights on how governments and decision-makers can analyze possible post-COVID outcomes based on available technologies and intelligence worldwide.

Dr. Inayatullah described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “hammer that forced us to change,” stressing the present need for people and governments to develop new skills sets that will help them thrive in the new normal.

“We are all in this situation together… We all have to learn new skills sets [and create] Futures Literacy, which will help us be far more prepared for the futures we wish to see,” he stated, adding that Futures Thinking brings together citizens, academic experts, political leaders, and businesses towards a shared vision of the future they want to achieve.

Meanwhile, experts from Futures Platform shared their expertise on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in monitoring and detecting trends and phenomena that might have an impact on the future to help form sound action plans.

The team particularly created a free online radar where people can “view the world after COVID-19.” It displays a holistic view of the world after the pandemic, which shows various drivers of change and the latest news and updates on them. The initiative seeks to help decision-makers plan for specific futures that they envision. https://www.futuresplatform.com

“We believe in foresight as a process, a methodology, and a great way to navigate environments. There is a need to make long-lasting plans for the government and understand the future to the best extent… These are challenges we see globally and we try to address them through technology, expert foresight, and knowledge,” Futures Platform Sales Director Saku Koskinen said.

“This is why we created the Futures Platform as a technical solution,” he added.

Cayetano supported the experts’ view that Futures Thinking is an integral part of thriving in the new normal. She stressed that having foresight based on big data and technology can help policymakers get a better grasp of “ever-changing environments” and be more prepared to make important decisions for the future.

“This is why I strongly advocate Futures Literacy among Filipinos, especially among our decision-makers,” the senator noted. #

Senator Pia S. Cayetano presides over a virtual hearing that invited acknowledged futures thinking experts to talk about post-COVID scenarios and trends for the Philippines and the world.

Pia calls for renewed commitment to UN global goals

“Let us make sustainability an integral part of our national development goals.”

Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano, as she called for government’s renewed commitment to fulfill the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Chairperson of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano on Monday (March 2), together with Senate President Vicente Sotto III, led the opening of the Senate exhibit on the SDGs at the Senate legacy hallway.

The exhibit which runs until March 5 aims to promote public awareness on the importance of achieving the 17 SDGs to benefit all Filipinos.

Among those who joined the ribbon cutting ceremony were: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Titon Mitra; National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Assistant Secretary Carlos Bernardo Abad Santos; and Senate Deputy Secretary for Administration and Finance Services Atty. Arnel Bañas.

Cayetano stressed that while the country has committed to adopt the global goals, much remains to be done to achieve the various targets by 2030.

“We continue to face issues arising in health, education, agriculture, environment, equality, peace and justice, among others. We need to initiate more reforms to renew our commitment to the SDGs,” stressed the senator, who has filed measures in the Senate towards this cause.

Cayetano filed Senate Resolution No. 308, declaring the 2020s as the “SDGs Decade of Action.” It seeks to mobilize government, private sector, stakeholders, and citizens to work together towards sustainability in the next 10 years leading to 2030.

The senator also filed Senate Bill No. 1362 or the Sustainable Development Framework Act, which mandates NEDA to incorporate the SDGs and their associated targets in its sustainable development policy and programs.

Cayetano’s committee recently conducted a public hearing to discuss these measures with stakeholders from both the government and the private sector. The senator said she hopes to sponsor her proposals in plenary soon.

(L-R): Senate Deputy Secretary for Administration and Finance Services Atty. Arnel Bañas, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking Pia S. Cayetano, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Titon Mitra; and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Assistant Secretary Carlos Bernardo Abad Santos.


Sen. Pia Cayetano has filed the Sustainable Development Framework Act, which mandates NEDA to incorporate the SDGs and their associated targets in its sustainable development policy and programs.

Private sector participation key to achieving SDGs

“Creating a sustainable future for all is an integrated responsibility. We all need to do things together to achieve our goals.”
Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano as she called for stronger public-private partnerships in fulfilling the country’s commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The whole point of the SDGs is to look at it from an integrated point of view. Public-private partnership is so important. It’s important that as we lead, we also follow. As we inspire people, we also aspire to be better,” the senator said in a speech before top executives of the Alliance Global Group Inc. (AGI) during their SustainAGIlity Conference on Thursday (February 6).
Cayetano stressed that private companies and corporations also carry the role of educating the public on the 17 Global Goals that the country seeks to achieve by 2030.
“A lot of people still don’t know what SDGs are. So the big challenge we have, and I’m sure all of you are onboard, is to share with everyone what these goals are. Right now, we lack information campaigns on the SDGs, so maybe you can help us share the news,” she said.
The chair of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano recently filed a resolution declaring 2020s as the “SDGs Decade of Action.”
This initiative seeks to encourage participation of experts from both government and the private sector to work towards achieving the SDGs.
“We need people who can take a step back and ensure that we are thinking of the future. Because otherwise, we get stuck in the now. We need to think of this on a national level [and determine] our baselines,” the senator said.
“It’s really necessary for people to be able to think creatively.  Without sustainable plans, well-intended policies may not necessarily give us the outcomes we expect,” she added.
Furthermore, the senator also urged companies to look at the SDGs as a set of intertwined goals, instead of treating each goal separately.
“It is erroneous to think that we have the option to choose just one goal that we want to deal with. It’s not meant to work that way. These goals are all integrated and indivisible,” she emphasized.
“These goals balance the dimensions of sustainable development of the economy, society, and environment. So for any activity, it’s not just about identifying one goal. It’s about tying them all together,” she added.
In particular, Cayetano said private companies can be drivers of SDGs by helping make the country’s cities and communities more sustainable, and by promoting the practice of sustainable consumption and production.
“A lot of these companies are involved in building cities, communities, and places where people live. In a way, they are also planning the lives of these people, as they play a part in deciding how these people manage their families and improve their quality of life. So they need to consider that as they plan for sustainability,” Cayetano said.
“There is also a need for innovation on how they produce their services for everyday life. They need to reinvent our manner of consumption by making sustainable alternatives more available to consumers,” the senator concluded. #
Senator Pia Cayetano was one of the speakers at the SustaiAGIlity forum organized by the Alliance Global Group Inc.(AGI), one of the country’s largest conglomerates.
Senator Pia Cayetano shares the success story of Barangay Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, in setting up a Materials Recovery facility (MRF).
Cayetano: “Without sustainable plans, well-intended policies may not necessarily give us the outcomes we expect.”
Facebook live: Senator Pia Cayetano with Alliance Global Group Inc. CEO Kevin Andrew Tan.