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Pia lauds signing of National Vision Screening Law

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Sunday welcomed the passage of a law establishing a national vision screening program for kindergarten pupils, as she stressed that early treatment of eye problems will lead to better learning among the youth and a sustainable future for the country.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act 11358 or the ‘National Vision Screening Act,’ which seeks to establish a National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) under the Department of Education. 

“I thank the President for signing this relevant measure, which came just in time for Sight Saving Month,” said Cayetano.

The senator first authored and sponsored the bill in the Senate during the 16th Congress and re-filed the same measure in the House in the 17th Congress. The latter became the base bill for the law signed by the President. 

Cayetano said RA 11358 can help fulfill government’s commitments to the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goals 3 and 4 of the SDGs.

Goal 3 calls on nations to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages, including the provision of essential services based on tracer interventions, like vision screening. 

Goal 4, on the other hand, urges nations to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. This includes initiatives to put the development of young children on track in health, learning, and psychosocial well-being.

“Good vision is vital for our children’s learning,” Cayetano said, emphasizing how the law’s objectives and the two SDGs are interrelated. 

She said poor vision at childhood greatly affects a student’s performance in school, and so “ensuring the full well-being of our children is the first step to enable them to reach their full potential and grow up as productive members of society.” 

Prior to the law’s passage, Cayetano has already spearheaded a pilot vision screening test for kindergarten pupils in Taguig City in 2016. The vision-screening was conducted in partnership with the Taguig city government and the UP Manila Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI). 

One hundred fifty (150) pupils aged five to six at the EM’s Signal Village Elementary School underwent a simple vision-screening test, about 15 of whom were found to have vision problems and in turn received immediate and proper treatment. #

Senator PIa Cayetano leads a reading session for pre-school children and their mothers in Brgy. Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. (file photo)
Senator Pia Cayetano with young children at an evacuation center in Quezon City. (file photo)

Breastfeeding vital to achieving sustainable dev’t goals

Senator Pia S. Cayetano called for the cooperation of all sectors in supporting the culture of breastfeeding among Filipina mothers to ensure the health of succeeding generations of young Filipinos, which she said is vital to achieving the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

A staunch breastfeeding advocate, Cayetano authored the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 (RA 10028) which mandates paid lactation breaks for nursing employees in the workplace, and the establishment of breastfeeding rooms in public places, like shopping malls, government facilities, and transport hubs such as airports, seaports, and bus stations. 

“Breastfeeding safeguards the well-being of babies and mothers. It ensures a healthy future for the child, positively affects the mother’s health, and thus enables the family to be better members of the community,” the senator said on Breastfeeding Month which is celebrated in August .

“The gains we’ve made since the passage of RA 10028 ten years ago are the results of our social investments in breastfeeding. We should press on in helping mothers breastfeed and educating them on its importance,” she added. 

“I know it is not easy, especially for working mothers because I also breastfed my children. I’ve become an advocate ever since,” shared the senator, who worked as a corporate lawyer prior to entering politics in 2004. 

“Our objective is to create a favorable environment for Filipina mothers to fully embrace breastfeeding, especially among young and new mothers,” Cayetano said, adding that this would require cooperation from both government and the private sector.

To ensure that Philippine Congress itself complies with the law it passed and become ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ institutions under RA 10028, Cayetano personally worked for the establishment of lactation rooms for nursing employees in both the Senate (in August 2014) and the House of Representatives (in March 2019). 

Cayetano also helped set up human milk banks in Taguig City and Cebu City, and sponsored breastfeeding seminars and milk donation campaigns in various places across the country as part of her Pinay In Action (PIA) advocacy. 

The senator said the social benefits from supporting breastfeeding should bring the country closer towards achieving Goal 2 (“achieve zero hunger”) and Goal 3 (“ensure good health and well-being”) of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 

She noted that even the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recognizes the vital role of breastfeeding in achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNICEF notes that breastfeeding can help achieve many of the 17 SDGs, including the goals on health, poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, and sustainable consumption.

“We need to take stronger initiatives to build on our gains. Let’s always remember that a healthy community is a sustainable community. If we want to achieve our sustainable development goals, let’s first make our babies and mothers healthy,” Cayetano concluded.#

Standing proudly in front of a breastfeeding room at a shopping mall in Cavite. The establishment of lactation stations in public places is one of the highlights of Cayetano’s Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (RA 10028).
Breastfeeding-friendly workplace: Senator Pia Cayetano with breastfeeding employees at the lactation room that Cayetano helped establish at the the Senate in 2014.

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 calls for ‘plastics-free’ Senate

Consistent with the celebration of ‘Plastic-Free July,’ Senator Pia S. Cayetano has called on the Senate to do its share in supporting the global movement to ditch single-use plastics and reduce plastic pollution.

In a brief manifestation during Monday’s session (July 29), Cayetano reiterated her plastics-free advocacy by urging fellow senators not to contribute to the generation of plastic wastes in the country. 

She enjoined her colleagues to adopt a policy of prohibiting PET bottles in plenary or during Senate hearings. 

As an alternative to plastic, the senator had bamboo tumblers distributed to her colleagues in the session hall. 

This was not the first time that Cayetano made an appeal to the Senate to be more environment-conscious in the conduct of its duties.

In 2012, Cayetano wrote a letter to the Senate Secretariat suggesting that water dispensers be set up in the Senate halls, instead of distributing bottled water during session and public hearings. 

“This was adopted at that time, but I don’t really know what happened in the (last) Congress because I wasn’t here. So may I propose that we adopt it once again, especially since it is July, which is No-Plastic Month,” Cayetano told her colleagues. 

“To help support my colleagues in shifting to a more sustainable way of drinking water or whatever beverage you prefer, I am giving all of you bamboo tumblers, which you can use in lieu of single-use plastics,” she added.

In 2011, Cayetano also requested the establishment of a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and enforce a ban on plastic bags within the institution’s premises. This resulted in a 50-percent reduction in the solid wastes generated by the Senate during that year.#

Senator Pia Cayetano asks the Senate to reduce its plastic waste, starting with ditching the practice of distributing PET bottled water during hearings and sessions.
With Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa holding up the reusable bamboo tumblers that Senator Pia Cayetano gave out to her colleagues in lieu of plastic bottled water distributed in plenary.

Pia seeks protection of PH forest resources

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed a bill seeking to enact a comprehensive sustainable forest management strategy to safeguard the country’s dwindling forest resources.

Through Senate Bill No. 284, or the ‘Sustainable Forest Management Act,’ Cayetano wants the country to preserve and optimize the utilization of forest resources  in line with the government’s sustainable development agenda. 

She said protecting forest resources forms part of government commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the Philippines adopted in 2015. Goal 13 of the SDGs urges nations to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

“Forests provide the country with natural resources that contribute to economic growth. They provide livelihood through raw materials that are converted into finished products,” Cayetano said. 

“At the same time, forests serve as protection and buffer from natural disasters, and help mitigate the effects of climate change,” added the senator, a known environment advocate.

She lamented, however, how the Philippines has been losing approximately 47,000 hectares of forest each year, increasing the risk of massive social and economic losses from resource depletion and climate disasters.

“As President Duterte said in his SONA, natural disasters are poverty creators. And so protecting our forests is not only an environment matter, but an economic imperative,” she stressed. 

Cayetano’s bill seeks to promote land use practices to protect existing forest resources, conserve our fragile biodiversity, and rehabilitate deforested or denuded areas. 

The Forest Management Bureau shall be the primary agency to oversee  the development, management, and utilization of forest lands, including the identification of areas for protection or production purposes. An Undersecretary for Forestry position shall also be created under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). 

Furthermore, the bill rationalizes the establishment, operations, and development of forest-based industries, mandating the DENR to institute measures for an open and competitive market of our forest products. 

SBN 284 pushes for the establishment of agroforestry economic zones to ease the conduct of business and attract local and foreign investments. 

The proposal also seeks to improve the quality of forestry education to develop highly skilled human resources in the field of sustainable forest management. 

Finally, SBN 284 provides for a Community-Based Forest Management Program (CBFMP) to be undertaken by concerned national agencies and the local government units. 

“With this, we aim to empower indigenous people’s groups and other forest-based communities as stewards and partners in managing our forest resources in a sustainable way,” Cayetano noted. #

Senator Pia Cayetano visits an upland village in Mt. Ugo in Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region. (file photo)
In this file photo, senator and mountain trail enthusiast Pia Cayetano participates at a trail run in Mt. Ugo. The annual event promotes fitness and environmental awareness.
Senator Pia Cayetano unfurls the tri-colors at the peak of Mt. Ugo. At 2,150 meters above sea level (MASL), the famed mountain is one of the tallest in the Cordillera region. (file photo)

Pia vows to help fulfill SONA development goals

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has vowed to carry out the legislative work necessary to fulfill President Rodrigo Duterte’s vision for the country, as outlined in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

 “The main message is really simple. The President wants a better and more comfortable life for the Filipinos,” she told reporters in an ambush interview after the President addressed the joint session of Congress on Monday.   

“I look forward to helping him see his dream for our country come true in the next three years,” the returning senator added. 

Several legislative items mentioned by the Chief Executive in his SONA already have counterparts filed in the Senate by the senator. 

These include the measures creating a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR); the National Land Use Policy Act; and the salary hike for public school teachers, which the President wants expanded to cover all government workers, including nurses, by introducing  amendments to the Salary Standardization Law. 

She described the President’s call to lift six million Filipinos from poverty as his most daunting challenge to members of the House and Senate. 

“Yun ang talagang pagtutuunan ko ng pansin. From education, to health, to livelihood, sa mga ikagaganda ng buhay ng mga vulnerable, lalo na ‘yung mga senior citizens, may kapansanan, lahat po ‘yun,” she emphasized. 

In line with these objectives, Cayetano has filed her version of ‘Build, Build, Build’ bills seeking to fast-track infrastructure requirements for public education and health services, respectively. 

Meanwhile, Cayetano’s proposed Education Roadmap Act seeks to align the skills and competencies of students with the evolving needs of industry to make our graduates globally competitive and job-ready. 

The senator has also filed the Tulong Puhunan bill to assist the growth of the micro and small enterprises sector, the role of which was also cited in SONA.

Another measure mentioned by the President that has also been filed by Cayetano is the bill creating a National Academy of Sports for high school students. 

The pronouncement, she said, reflects the President’s regard for the important role of youth and sports in national development. #

Senator Pia Cayetano delivers a manifestation on the Senate floor at the opening of the first regular session of the 18th Congress.
Returning and newly elected senators take their oath during the first session of the Senate.

Pia seeks unified agency to respond to disasters

Building on the country’s progress to respond to both natural and human-made calamities, Senator Pia S. Cayetano filed a bill seeking to merge the functions of different agencies involved in disaster risk reduction and management to form the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

She said that while the current law (Philippine Disaster Reduction and Management Act or RA 10121) coordinated the efforts of various agencies on disaster risk reduction, there remains a need to establish a single, accountable agency in charge of responding to disasters. 

Cayetano’s proposed “Department of Disaster Resilience Act” mandates a sole government department to take over the policy-making, coordination, and monitoring functions of the present ad hoc inter-agency council on disaster risk reduction and management. 

In stressing the need for a separate agency for disaster resilience, Cayetano cited that the Word Risk Index ranks the Philippines third among nations with the highest risk from disasters, next to Vanuatu and Tonga.

“Owing to our geographical and natural features, the Philippines is inherently prone to disasters, both natural and human-made. And more so in the era of climate change, where extreme weather conditions have become the new normal and reality for many Filipinos,” Cayetano pointed out. 

The bill also aims to implement the principles of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 in addressing disaster risks and climate change. 

The proposed DDR will be equipped with bureaus specifically tasked to deal with disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, and humanitarian and disaster responses.

The applicable powers, funds and appropriations of existing government agencies from different departments will then be transferred to the DDR. 

These agencies include the Office of Civil Defense (DND), Climate Change Office, Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (DENR), Health and Emergency Bureau (DOH), Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DSWD), and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Meanwhile, PAGASA and PHIVOLCS will be attached agencies of the DDR. 

Cayetano is the author of the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act (Republic Act No. 10821), which ensures attention and assistance to children before, during, and after disasters. She also introduced gender provisions in RA 10121, including the promotion of breastfeeding, and the establishment of safe spaces for mothers and children in evacuation centers. #

The Philippines is the third country most vulnerable to disasters according to the World Risk Index report.
Extreme weather conditions and more frequent disasters caused by climate change require a unified and comprehensive response from the government.
In this file photo, then Deputy Speaker interacts with young evacuees at a disaster relief center in Navotas City. Joining her is Mayor John Rey Tiangco. (November, 2018)

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.