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:
- Education Roadmap Act
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act
- Sustainability-Based Budgeting Act
- Sports Excellence Roadmap Act
- Increasing the Minimum Age of Access to Tobacco at 21 Years Old Act
- Water Sustainability Act
- Philippine Nursing Act amendments
- Sustainable Cities and Communities Act
- Safe Pathways Network Act
- 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. #