Alternative measure to mandatory ROTC filed

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for the establishment of a comprehensive and holistic policy that would strengthen the sense of patriotism and nationalism among Filipino students. 

The senator filed Senate Bill No. 925 or the ‘Youth Patriotism and Bayanihan Act,’ which is an alternative to the proposal to revive the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program for senior high school students.  

At the Senate Committee on Basic Education’s public hearing on Thursday (August 22), Cayetano stressed that instilling love for country among young Filipinos should start as early as their formative years. 

“Do the core values of nationalism and patriotism only begin at senior high? That’s the question I pose. This is not just a concept that should be focused on senior high,” she said.

“I just want to put my point out there, that there are different ways to develop nationalism and there are different components [that should be considered],” she added.

Earlier this week, the senator filed SB 925, which seeks to institutionalize a two-tiered program to strengthen the values of discipline, patriotism, and nationalism of students from Grades 1 to 12. 

The first tier is the introduction of a Fundamental Program in the curricula of Grades 1 to 12 in all public and private educational institutions in the country. The components of which shall include Physical Fitness, Arts and Cultural Heritage, Community Outreach, Basic Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and Basic Security. 

The second tier is the establishment of a Specialized Program for Senior High School students in public and private educational institutions. This seeks to provide advanced and dedicated training for the development of the students’ skills on security, survival, and public service.

The Specialized Program shall have the following components: Internal Security and Peace and Order, Dedicated Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Advanced Security, and Career Development.

Cayetano said her measure particularly promotes the importance of “soft security,”  which pertains to the ability of citizens to respond to threats to the country’s sustainability through the efficient management of resources and delivery of services.

In her bill, the senator distinguished ‘soft’ from ‘hard’ security, which refers to the country’s ability to respond to security threats through the use of military force.

“That’s why my bill includes more components [other than military-based training] because I’d like to think that there is not just one track… We want to be sure that the programs [we will establish] would be suited to the skills that we want our youth to develop,” she said. 

Furthermore, Cayetano said if the purpose of the mandatory ROTC is to train the youth in helping protect the country from external threats, there are many other ways to do so.

“If we are preparing for external invasions… should not the preparation be in terms of our students being the best in engineering, psychology, sociology, history, medical care, and the like?” she asked.

“My point is, we need to strategize where our human resources are needed. And it is essential for the Filipino youth to contribute to the preservation and sustainability of our country’s available resources,” she concluded.  #

Senator Pia Cayetano: “If we are preparing for external invasions, should not the preparation be in terms of our students being the best in engineering, psychology, sociology, history, medical care, and the like?”

Bill seeking to produce globally competitive graduates pushed

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for the establishment of a common national policy on education that will train Filipino students to be job-ready and globally competitive.

In filing Senate Bill No. 62 or the ‘Education Roadmap Act,’ Cayetano aims to institutionalize an education roadmap that incorporates the needed skills and competencies that industries constantly look for in new graduates.

The senator said her proposal seeks to guarantee gainful employment for Filipino students after graduation by addressing current ‘overlapping and confusing education policies.’ Furthermore, the measure aims to make the Philippines at par with its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of producing a competitive workforce. 

Under SBN 62, an Education Roadmap National Coordinating Council shall be created to design, formulate, and monitor implementation of the educational roadmap. 

The council shall focus on five key components, namely, Global Languages, Graduate Competencies, Teacher Competencies, Capacity Building for Centers of Excellence, and School-to-Work Transition.

Furthermore, the national policy on global languages shall be aligned with the Common Framework of Reference for Languages to warrant national and global competitiveness, especially in the areas of education and labor. 

“The roadmap incorporates a careful review of existing curricula so that the skills required by local and international industries from new graduates are integrated in our academic programs,” the senator explained. 

“This roadmap also aims to strengthen capacity building for teachers so that they could properly equip their students with relevant skills and competencies,” she added. 

The bill includes a policy for the seamless progression of students from basic education to higher education and, eventually, to employment. This involves strengthening and expanding internship, apprenticeship, and dual-training programs for students, as well as dynamic collaboration among the government, academe, and industry.

“To ensure that our students’ training are aligned with the requirements of their future employers, industry sector representatives shall be consulted or tapped in developing and implementing the educational roadmap,” Cayetano noted.

“Our education program must constantly keep up with the changing and growing needs of industries. We must also secure lifelong learning opportunities for our youth so that they will be globally competitive and job-ready upon graduation,” the senator said.

A staunch advocate of youth empowerment in Congress, Cayetano has championed several measures to improve the quality and accessibility of education. Among her latest proposals is the  Build, Build, Build for Education Bill which lays down a five-year plan to accelerate infrastructure development in Philippine state universities and colleges (SUCs). #

Senator Pia Cayetano has championed several measures seeking to make quality education accessible to the Filipino youth. (file photo)

New law strengthening National Museum hailed

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has welcomed the signing of the National Museum of the Philippines Act, saying the new law will help bridge generations of young Filipinos to our country’s past to better appreciate our rich history and heritage.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently signed Republic Act No. 11333, which designates the National Museum as the primary institution to manage and develop museums and collections of national importance across the country.

The measure’s principal author in the 17th Congress, Cayetano said preserving heritage strengthens our collective sense of history as a people, which is crucial in charting our nation’s future.

“With the passage of this act, we now have a stronger national policy to protect our heritage. This will help reinforce our sense of nationalism, especially among the youth, and boost sectors like education and tourism, which will provide more opportunities for our people,” she emphasized. 

The measure authorizes the National Museum of the Philippines to retain the entirety of its income from all sources of its operations nationwide and overseas. It also exempts it from applicable taxes, duties, fees, and charges from donations.

According to the senator, this provision would enable the agency to better fulfill its mandate to develop the National Museum Complex in Manila, central museums, regional museums, and other facilities it manages. This will also allow the institution to make its services more accessible to the people – and not intended for profit. 

“This law will allow the public free admission to public museums and national historical shrines and landmarks,” the senator said, adding that “it is always heartening to see students, barkadas, and families coming in droves to visit our public museums as a fun, learning experience.”

A heritage advocate, Cayetano has championed several measures in Congress seeking to strengthen the government’s efforts to protect the country’s endangered historical landmarks. 

She was a member of the National Museum Board of Trustees from 2013 to 2016, and a former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture during the 16th Congress.

During this time, she led the inquiry into the controversial construction of a high-rise condominium building, which marred the sightline of the historic Rizal Monument at Luneta Park.#

Highlights of the National Museum of the Philippines Act (Republic Act 11333) authored by Senator Pia S. Cayetano.

Pia files inclusive education bill for kids with special needs

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is affirming her commitment to work for the welfare of children with special needs and afford them the right to accessible quality education.

 The senator has filed the ‘Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act’ (Senate Bill No. 69) which seeks to establish inclusive learning resource centers for children and youth with special needs (CYSNs) in all public school divisions in the country.

“Children with disabilities have the same rights as any other child. They deserve access to a kind of education system where their special needs are attended to,” said Cayetano, principal author of RA 10070, which mandates the creation of Persons with Disability Office (PDAO) in every province, city, and municipality.

“They deserve to learn in an environment with compassion and understanding, and where they can grow as productive members of the community,” she added.

The proposed measure was first conceptualized by Cayetano, along with special education stakeholders, when she chaired the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture back in the 16th Congress. 

Citing records from the Department of Education (DepEd), Cayetano said majority of the country’s 5.5 million CYSNs have limited access to public education due to lack of accessibility features in schools, among other attitudinal and environmental factors.

“This bill aims to address and remove all these  barriers in our education system to allow CYSNs to participate in the regular school system,” the senator explained. 

Under SBN 69, the policy of inclusion shall be instituted in all public schools to provide CYSNs with equitable opportunities to educational services. Furthermore, the bill seeks to empower parents and family members of CYSNs with proper information and training.

All public school divisions of the DepED shall likewise establish an Inclusive Education Learning Resource Center that shall assist in promoting inclusive education to enable regular schools to handle the needs of CYSNs effectively.

The bill also proposes the formation of an Inter-Agency Coordinating Council on Inclusive Education (IACCIE), which is tasked to integrate and harmonize policies with regard to inclusive education.

Lastly, SBN 69 mandates the establishment of Child Development Centers (CDCs) near all schools or within existing Inclusive Education Learning Resource Centers. The CDCs will be specially designed for preschool children and their parents, where early identification of disabilities or special needs and intervention programs can be administered.#

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is greeted with a waving of hands by hearing impaired youth during a sports clinic for the differently abled in Taguig City earlier this year.
“This bill aims to address and remove all barriers to allow CYSNs (Children and Youth with Special Needs) to participate in the regular school system.”

Pia seeks a loving, caring home for all abandoned, neglected kids

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed a measure to codify the country’s laws on alternative child care with the goal of simplifying the process of giving abandoned and neglected children a second chance at having a loving and caring family.

Senate Bill No. 61 or the ‘Alternative Child Care Code of the Philippines’ was among the first ten priority bills that the returning senator filed during her first week in the Senate as part of her long-term advocacy to promote children’s rights and welfare. 

Citing a report by the United Nations’ Children’s Right and Emergency Relief Organization, Cayetano said about 1.8 million Filipino children are abandoned or neglected due to several reasons, including extreme poverty, natural disasters, armed conflicts, and other problems at home.

“These children are usually placed under institutional care through state-run or accredited residential care facilities, while others end up on the streets,” according to Cayetano, herself a foster parent and eventual adoptive mom to her 8-year-old son, Rene Lucas. 

“Sadly, there are not enough institutions to attend to their needs, not to mention the fact that these institutions cannot give the warmth and affection only a family could provide,” she lamented. 

Cayetano’s bill seeks to address the issue by streamlining government policies on alternative child care, such that the out-of-home care provided by residential care facilities shall only be a last resort for the children. 

“[T]he State shall ensure that a child without parental care or at risk of losing it are provided with alternative care options such as foster care, kinship care, kafalah (Islamic provision of alternative care), guardianship, or residential care, including family-like care,” the measure read.

SBN 61 likewise makes adoption administrative in nature to effectively streamline its procedures and make formal adoption accessible.

Furthermore, the bill calls for the establishment of a one-stop agency to improve and expedite the process of all modes of alternative child care. The National Authority for Child Care (NACC) shall be an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), tasked to formulate and develop policies on pre-adoption, adoption, inter-country adoption, foster care, guardianship leading to adoption, and other alternative child care policies.

This includes programs that will protect the Filipino child from abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and any adoption practice that is harmful, detrimental and prejudicial to his/her best interests.

The NACC shall also be in charge of conducting advocacy campaigns on alternative child care, in cooperation with various national government agencies, non-government organizations, peoples’ organizations, faith based organizations, and civil society.

Moreover, Cayetano’s bill seeks to make Foster Care a mandatory and permanent program of the NACC. The agency shall be tasked to develop programs that will ensure the awareness and responsiveness of local government officials in the promotion of the foster care system in every city, municipality, or barangay.

The institutionalization of foster care in the country as a preferred way of caring for abused, abandoned, or neglected children is mandated by Republic Act 10165 or the Foster Care Act of 2012, of which Cayetano was the principal author and sponsor.

“We really need to see more modes of alternative child care working in our communities, as these are proven to be more beneficial than institutional care, in that it provides children with the love and attention that can only be found in a family setting,” Cayetano said, drawing from her own experience as a foster parent and adoptive mom. #

Senator Pia Cayetano leads dedication rites for abandoned and neglected children in Taguig City during an orientation program for prospective foster families.

Pia files ‘Build, Build, Build for Education’ Bill

Following the economy’s gains from the government’s accelerated infrastructure program, also known as ‘Build, Build, Build,’ Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for a similar initiative to fast-track the progress of quality tertiary education in the country. 

Cayetano has filed the Priority Infrastructure for Public Higher Education Institutions Act, which she called the ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program for Education Bill.

The yet-to-be-numbered bill maps out a five-year priority infrastructure plan, with a fixed budget of P10 billion, for the improvement of facilities in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). 

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will be tasked to identify the priority infrastructure projects based on the needs of the 112 SUCs across the country.

Cayetano said the government has made notable strides towards giving Filipinos better access to education, especially with the passage the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act that grants free tuition to students in SUCs.

However, she lamented that while students have been accorded free tuition, a great number of SUCs in the country still “grieve for educational infrastructure.” 

“Thus, there is a need to enact a law ensuring that the facilities made available to students are well-equipped and of high quality,” said Cayetano. 

“Classrooms remain overcrowded and hallways are still being used as classrooms in many SUCs. There is also a shortage of Science and Computer laboratories. These conditions are not optimal for learning and likewise for teaching. Poor educational infrastructure impedes the intellectual growth and health of the youth,” she added. 

Cayetano said the bill was a fulfillment of her campaign promise to push for a measure that would allow Filipino graduates to be more globally competitive and job-ready. 

The bill is expected to boost the country’s efforts to ensure quality higher learning and upgrade its education facilities by 2030 under its Sustainable Development Goals. It also seeks to help the government meet its objectives under the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, particularly on improving the quality of higher and technical education for global competitiveness. 

Other education measures that the senator has filed so far in the 18th Congress include the Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Bill, Educational Roadmap Bill, as well as the measure providing for additional support and compensation for educators in Basic Education. 

The former chairperson of the Senate Education Committee, Cayetano authored laws in previous Congresses promoting the welfare of Filipino students, namely the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education or Unifast Act (Republic Act 10687), Iskolar ng Bayan Act (Republic Act 10648), Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647), Open Distance Learning Act (RA 10650), and Open High School System Act (RA 10665). #

File photo: Then Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano (in blue) sits down with students of Pangasinan Sate University in San Carlos City.

Let’s make our graduates job-ready – Pia

In line with this year’s celebration of Labor Day, Senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano vowed to continue fighting for measures that will improve the quality of education in the country and make Filipino graduates job-ready. 

The congresswoman was in San Fernando Pampanga on Wednesday (May 1) to attend the 117th Labor Day Celebration spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

During her speech, Cayetano stressed the importance of allocating more budget for the improvement of the Philippine education system in order to prepare young Filipinos to be competitive members of the workforce.

“I will continue to fight for us to put in more budget for education because the demands that will be put on our labor force will be very high,” she said, particularly stressing Central Luzon’s great potential to be a center of economic growth in the country, owing to the region’s continued infrastructure developments.

On this note, Cayetano said the government and the private sector should work together to ensure that the youth are ready to take on the challenge of meeting the demands of booming industries.

“We already have free tertiary education. But the question is, how well does our quality of education compare to our Asian neighbors,” she noted.

“That is where my education advocacy comes in, because free education alone is not enough. It is our collective responsibility to help young people get the opportunities that they deserve,” she added.

The Taguig representative urged the Department of Education (DepEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), local government units (LGUs), and other concerned agencies to make sure that their Senior High School (SHS) Programs are really training students to be hireable.

She also pushed for the proper implementation of Republic Act 10687 or the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act, of which she was an author.

“I am delighted that one of my laws has already been implemented, which is the UniFAST law. Through this, government can give up to P60,000 worth of financial assistance to poor and deserving students,” Cayetano said.

A known advocate of the youth sector in Congress, Cayetano authored more laws promoting the welfare of Filipino students, including the Iskolar ng Bayan Act (Republic Act 10648), Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647), Open Distance Learning Act (RA 10650), and Open High School System Act (RA 10665), among others. #

Senatoriable Pia S. Cayetano speaks before guests and officials present at the 117th Labor Day Celebration spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), held in San Fernando, Pampanga on Wednesday (May 1).

Stay vigilant following Luzon, Visayas quakes

House Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano is urging all Filipino families to remain vigilant amid the strong earthquakes that hit several parts of the country this week.

Following the 6.1-magnitude earthquake that hit parts of Luzon on Monday, another magnitude 6.3 earthquake rattled the Visayas region on Tuesday.
Amid fears of aftershocks, Cayetano reminded the public to always remain calm and prepared whenever calamities strike.

“Ang reminder ko sa karamihan, baka hindi kayo sa lindol masaktan kung hindi sa after-effect, which are panic and stampede,” she noted.

“That’s why we have to be very careful and calm. More importantly, let’s prepare ourselves for calamities. There’s so much information out there that we can access through technology,” she added.

The congresswoman further stressed the need to prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable sectors, including children, pregnant women, the sick, the elderly, and the differently abled, during times of disasters.

Cayetano said local government units (LGUs) should integrate these sectors’ welfare in their disaster risk reduction and management programs. This way, incidents of maternal and infant sickness, deaths, as well as cases of rape, trafficking, and prostitution could be prevented.

Cayetano said Taguig City has set a good example with its timely disaster response efforts during the earthquake on Monday. 

“Ang maganda sa Taguig, agad agad may first responders na nasa labas. Meron na kaagad kaming command post na nakatayo within a matter of minutes. Sana ay lahat ng LGUs ay ganito rin kabilis ang pagresponde,” she stressed.

The Taguig representative, who is running for re-election in the upcoming senatorial polls, authored Republic Act No. 10821 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act.

The measure provides emergency relief and protection for children before, during, and after disasters.#

Senatoriable Pia Cayetano discussing with student leaders from Pangasinan State University.

Pia wants year-round sports programs in schools

Senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano is urging local government officials and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders to promote year-round sports programs in their respective communities, to encourage Filipino students to stay in school.

In a radio interview in the “Home of the Champions” General Santos City on Tuesday, Cayetano stressed the importance of sports in providing more opportunities for the youth to be productive and to develop their discipline. 

“Having year-round sports programs for the youth can really help our kids stay and excel in school. For me, the kind of discipline that they learn from sports is beneficial to their growth and development,” she said. 

The congresswoman added that sports activities are a good way to motivate young Filipinos to keep coming to school, which would in turn reduce the number of out-of-school youths and student dropouts in the country.

She then called on Filipino parents and teachers to keep encouraging their kids to harness their energy in sports and apply the same in their studies. 

Cayetano was a varsity volleyball player during her college days, and was even recruited to play for the Philippine Women’s Volleyball Team. When she became a senator, she authored laws that provide benefits to young athletes, one of which is the Student-Athlete Protection Act (Republic Act 10676). 
Meanwhile, Cayetano also urged local officials and SK leaders to give assistance to the families of out-of-school youths in order to ensure that the kids are properly guided to continue their studies and have a better future.

“One of the most common causes of children dropping out from schools is usually problems in their homes. Kaya nananawagan ako sa mga leaders natin on the ground na tulungan ang mga pamilyang ito para matuloy sa pag-aaral ang mga anak nila and make something of their lives,” Cayetano stressed. #

Senatoriable Pia S. Cayetano speaks at the International Youth Forum’s World Youth Camp held on Monday (April 15) in Lagao Gymnasium, General Santos City.

Pia calls on youth volunteers to help prep for SEA Games

LAKESHORE, TAGUIG CITY – House Deputy Speaker and sports advocate Pia S. Cayetano is encouraging young Filipinos from different provinces to volunteer and take part in the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th South East Asian (SEA) Games. 

The Philippine South East Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), in cooperation with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), launched its Volunteers Program on Friday (April 11) to mobilize youth volunteers for the region’s premiere multi-sport event.

Cayetano said local communities play an important role in ensuring the success of the country’s hosting of the SEA Games from November 30 to December 10 2019.

“Once the organizing committees finalize all the venues for the games, we need each community within that area to volunteer, especially the youth,” she stressed.

“On a macro scale, the Philippines will be the host; but on a micro scale, we need to harness our local communities so that we can really win as one,” she added.
The Taguig congresswoman said engaging local communities for the 30th SEA Games could also boost local tourism in their respective areas.
Moreover, she said it opens opportunities to showcase what the Philippines has to offer to the region and the world, apart from being the home of talented athletes.

“There’s a lot of time for us to invite and really organize local volunteers. Regardless of your background, there is a role for you to play in this year’s SEA Games,” Cayetano said.

”On my part, I’d like to lead by example because as a former student-athlete, I know how it feels to win, to lose, to wake up early, and to put in my best efforts in making my country proud,” she added.

Cayetano, who is running for re-election in the coming Senatorial polls, played for the Philippine Women’s Volleyball Team when she was in college. 
At the launch of the volunteers program, Cayetano was seen interacting with volleyball stars Alyssa Valdez and Fille Cainglet Cayetano, as well as national athletes and sports personalities. 

Cayetano is a known advocate of sports and the youth sector in Congress, having passed laws that give benefits to young Filipino athletes like the Student-Athletes Protection Act (Republic Act 10676). #

Senatoriable Pia S. Cayetano and volleyball players Fille Cainglet-Cayetano and Alyssa Valdez pose “as one” during this Friday’s launching of the Volunteers Program for the 30th South East Asain (SEA) Games, which will be hosted by the country from November 30 to December 10 2019.