The Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture chaired by Sen. Alan Peter “Compañero” S. Cayetano has recently approved on second reading a measure creating the 150-million-pesos National Book Development Trust Fund to support Filipino authorship nationwide.

“If passed into law, the interest derived from the Trust Fund will enable at least sixty-five (65) grants worth P150,000.00 each per region to be awarded yearly. This will enable deserving writers or researchers in the Philippines to produce or finish excellent manuscripts on a variety of topics or subject areas for publication,” Cayetano said in his sponsorship speech.

Senate Bill 2409 was authored by Cayetano together with Senators Edgardo J. Angara and Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada. Once enacted, the bill will create the trust fund to support Filipino authors who, at present, must divide their time between full-time jobs to earn for their families and writing to start or finish their manuscripts.

“The amount of the grant to be given to our Filipino authors shall essentially depend on the quality of the manuscript and a number of related factors including the usefulness of the study, its commercial viability as well as the amount of time needed by the author to conduct their research, take a leave from their jobs and finish writing the manuscript,” continued Cayetano.

The Senate received HB 4213, the House version of the trust fund bill that merged House Bill 1401 authored by Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. (Lone district, Iloilo City) and House Bill 1948 authored Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd district, Cagayan de Oro).

As fund administrator, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) will prepare the implementing guidelines and decision-making mechanisms, and appoint a government financial institution as fund manager.

NBDB chairman Dr. Dennis T. Gonzalez said “if enacted into law, the fund will provide considerable support to the creative sector especially to our authors in the regions.”

The agency is tasked with developing the book publishing industry into a world-class and globally competitive industry that will make the Philippines a publishing hub in Asia. A crucial step is to motivate excellent authors all over the country to start writing good books. The fund is expected to boost the number of books on local history, science and technology, and in other genres where local works are either few or non-existent.

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