Senate Bills

Here is our committee’s report on the Senate Bills (SB) related to educational development. As you will observe, they are also related to the book publishing industry.

Senate Bill No. 37 or the Magna Carta of the Poor introduced by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. This bill contains a provision about mandating establishments selling reference books for college and school supplies to give it at least 5% discount to poor but deserving students subject to the guidelines to be issued by CHED.

Senate Bill No. 60 or Underprivileged Post-Secondary and Tertiary Students’ Discount Act of 2013 introduced by Senator Sonny M. Angara. This is a reiteration of the 5% discount to be extended to secondary and tertiary students as a help to support their studies.

Senate Bill No. 82 or Special Education Act of 2013 by Senator Nancy Binay. This bill pushes for transcribing instructional materials to Braille, large type, and audio type without penalty or royalty. The PEPA Board has already been informed that international publishers are trying to come up with a framework to counteract this blanket authority to copy materials under the guise that this will be used by the disabled.

Senate Bill No. 659 requires the teaching of intellectual property, particularly the copyright law, as part of the curriculum of all primary, secondary, and tertiary schools. This bill is introduced by Senator JV Ejercito. PEPA will support and endorse this bill as it is beneficial for us.

Senate Bill No. 735 or Book City Act of 2013 introduced by Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada. This Act calls for the creation of a 100-hectare special economic zone in the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) located at Olongapo City and Subic, Zambales. It shall be known as the Book Publishing Industry Development Center, or simply Book City.

Senate Bill No. 823 introduced by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV calls for the establishment of an education printing office under the direction of the Department of Education which shall produce, print, and distribute original materials for public schools. This violates R.A. 8047, or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act. The Board has decided that it will further study the constitutionality and/or legality of this bill to establish PEPA’s objection.

Senate Bill No. 925 or Cheaper Books for the Poor Act 2013 introduced by Senator Lito Lapid. Among the provisions of this bill is the institutionalization of the Philippine Textbook Rent Foundation which shall consider the viability and feasibility of uploading textbook contents on a national website so that students will have access online. The Indonesian government is now uploading books online, bypassing publishers who have been opposing it for several years now. Related to this, Mr. Policarpio wants the Board to also look into the impact of VAT on eBooks. He says that there is a situation where books are VAT-exempt, but the same content converted to a different format VAT able.

Senate Bill No. 1474 introduced by Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada seeks to mandate that educational curriculum and preparation of textbooks should have continuity and stability and, at the same time, should not be affected by any change during the period of at least six (6) years amending for the purpose of R.A. 8047.

Senate Bill No. 179 Special Education Act introduced by Senator Bong Revilla. This bill aims to institutionalize inclusive education through special education in all public and private elementary and secondary schools nationwide for children and youth with special needs and to establish the Bureau of Special Education creating the implementing machinery thereof, providing guidelines for government financial assistance and other incentives and support for other purposes.

Senate Bill No. 191 another Special Education Act. This bill introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago seeks to establish at least one special education centre for each school division and at least three special education centers in big schools divisions for children with special needs.

Senate Bill No. 292 aims to integrate a computer education program into the educational system to achieve the goal of a competitive Philippine labor force. This bill introduced by Senator Bong Revilla seeks to establish the Board of Computer Education as the government agency that will be tasked to promote the development of computer literacy among Filipino students. It also proposes enabling measures and incentives such as tax-free importation of computer hardware by accredited entities in order to facilitate the implementation of a computer literacy program in nineteen of the country’s poorest provinces.

A Senate Bill seeking the Establishment of Bookstores outside of cities and in provincial capitals. Such bookstores will be registered with a duly organized publishing association accredited by the National Book Development Board. As an incentive, the bookstore shall be entitled 6 and 4 year tax holidays among others. This is acceptable: for how could you encourage literacy when there are no bookstores? Mr. Garcia asked whether the publishers’ branches are considered as bookstores. Mr. Policarpio and I answered in the affirmative.