Mandatory continuing education for teachers pushed in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   July 20, 2019   •   985

FILE PHOTO: Students orientation on the opening of classes for school year 2012-2013 in a school in General Santos City. (RITCHIE TONGO / Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday said he has filed a bill pushing for the establishment of a mandatory continuing education program for elementary and high school teachers.

The Senate Bill No. 367 or the Continuing Education for Teachers Act seeks the government to implement a comprehensive national program for mandatory continuing education for all teachers in both private and public educational institutions as well as formal and non-formal institutions of learning.

“As of this moment, there are no existing free programs for continuing teacher education in our country,” Gatchalian said in a statement, adding that teachers are left to their own devices if they wish to further develop their training and education.

“Acknowledging the need to continually educate our teachers and to further develop the teaching profession, this bill seeks to provide a mandatory teacher’s education program to be implemented by the government at no cost to our teacher,” he further said.

Under the bill, the mandatory continuing education program shall consist of at least 24 hours of compulsory continuing education activities each year. This will be held preferably at least eight hours per day on consecutive days, at the end of every school year and before the resumption of classes.

The program shall also be conducted in the school district where the teachers belong, as determined by the Department of Education (DepEd).

Teachers who possess a post-graduate degree are not covered by the proposed measure, but may opt to attend the program.

“Teacher effectiveness depends on whether they know what to teach and the best way to teach it,” the lawmaker said. “The environment in which teachers work has significantly changed over the past decades, yet the method of teaching has not been sufficiently adapted to the current times.”

“Unless actions to update teaching in the new environment take place, there will not be a substantial improvement in the quality of our students,” he stressed.

Gatchalian’s bill also orders DepEd to create an Executive Committee directly responsible for the effective implementation of the program.

The senator said a P100 million budget will be appropriated for the initial implementation of this program to be incorporated in DepEd’s annual budget.

Senators divided over PCSO gaming suspension

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senators have expressed varying opinions on President Rodrigo Duterte’s suspension order on all gaming activities of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

In a statement, Senator Panfilo Lacson said that as far as lotto operations are concerned, it should have been spared “since there are no reports of revenue cheating,” and that its activities are “computerized and automated and therefore closely monitored.”

President Duterte last week ordered for the suspension of all PCSO gaming operations amid corruption allegations in the state-run lottery agency.

Over 21,000 lotto outlets and other PCSO gaming kiosks nationwide have been reportedly closed after Duterte declared these as illegal.

Lacson said that if the president’s intention is to stop gambling altogether, then “all forms of gambling, including the PAGCOR-regulated games like casinos and online should have been included.”

Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros also questioned Duterte’s order, saying if he wants to rid the PCSO of corruption then he should go after corrupt officials who “connive with jueteng operations in using PCSO small town lottery (STL) franchises as fronts for illegal gambling operations.”

“Why shut down the entire multi-billion peso charity operations, including small lotto outlets which are highly regulated by the government?” she said.

“Thousands of our fellow Filipinos rely on the PCSO for financial assistance to cover costly medical expenses… Many Filipinos also base their employment and livelihood on small lotto operations,” she added.

The lawmaker said Duterte should explain his “abrupt, yet serious allegations” against the PCSO.

“How pervasive is the corruption within the PCSO? How are these forms of corruption carried out? And why expose this only now after three years of handling the PCSO?” Hontiveros asked.

Senator Grace Poe likewise called on the government to swiftly uncover the issue for the sake of many indigent Filipinos who rely on the PCSO for medical subsidies.

On the other hand, Duterte allies Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go expressed support for Duterte’s effort to cleanse the PCSO from corruption.

“May wisdom si Presidente kung bakit ipinahinto yan, gusto niyang linisin,” dela Rosa said.

“Mayroon namang possibility na babalik po yung operations basta walang graft and corruptions,” Go said.

The Malacañang earlier promised the president would soon name the persons involved in the alleged anomalies. The gaming ban would also stay until the government concludes its investigation.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, suggested that PCSO gaming activities be privatized to shield it from corruption.

Its proceeds should be remitted directly to the Department of Social Work and Development to fund social service programs, he added.

“This way we can avoid the mishandling of funds that are supposed to be allocated to help the poor,” Gatchalian said.

Malacañang earlier said the president first met with new PCSO general manager Royima Garma prior to his suspension order last Friday (July 26). (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Solving traffic woes: Gatchalian calls on Duterte to certify proof of parking space bill as urgent

Robie de Guzman   •   July 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the proof-of-parking space bill to help decongest roads in Metro Manila.

In a statement, Gatchalian made the call following Duterte’s order during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) for the Department of the Interior and Local Government to reclaim all public roads that are being used for private purposes.

READ: DILG to meet with local execs on clearing of public roads

The Senate Bill No. 368 or the Proof-of-Parking Space Act, which was filed by Gatchalian, proposes to require respective vehicle owners to present proof that they have a parking space for the new vehicle they would be purchasing.

The proposal also seeks to allow individuals and businesses based within Metro Manila to buy vehicles after the execution of an affidavit confirming that they have acquired, either through purchase or lease, parking space for the vehicle sought to be purchased.

“Passing this bill will be a big boost to the administration’s campaign of reclaiming public roads and help ease the perennial traffic woes we are experiencing in Metro Manila,” he said.

“I hope President Duterte will certify this bill as urgent as it is very much aligned with his vision of alleviating the constant struggles of the commuting public,” he added.

The bill also mandates the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and local government units to conduct frequent inspections of major and minor thoroughfares across Metro Manila to remove illegally parked vehicles and to penalize vehicle owners who refuse to comply with the law.

LTO Records show that there were 11.6 million motor vehicles in 2018, which is an increase of almost 1.2 million or 11.4 percent from the 2017 figure of 10.5 million.

The lawmaker believes the bill is very timely and will instill a culture of responsible vehicle ownership among Filipinos.

“Motor vehicle owners should be made responsible to provide permanent parking space for their private vehicles, whether this is made an integral part of their house or building structure or a leased facility,” Gatchalian said.

“The street is primarily intended for vehicular or foot traffic and should not be appropriated as personal parking spaces for these vehicles,” he added.

Gatchalian also said that the current administration is in a good position to achieve real change by overhauling Metro Manila’s outdated public transportation system.

Gatchalian pushes for removal of expiry period in prepaid load

Robie de Guzman   •   July 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for the removal of the expiration period of all denominations of prepaid load credits set by telecommunication service providers.

Under Senate Bill No. 365 or the Prepaid Load Forever Act of 2019, all Public Telecommunications Entities (PTEs) and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) providers will be prohibited from imposing an expiration period on the validity of prepaid load credits and their forfeiture.

“Prepaid Load Credit” is defined in the bill as the monetary value or the consumable amount loaded via prepaid card or electronic load to a device that enables a subscriber to use telecommunications services.

It also prohibits imposition of an expiry period on the validity of unused prepaid load credits, whether purchased via prepaid card or electronic load; forfeiture of such prepaid load credits on an active prepaid account, save for the purpose of availing of the mobile number portability service; and refusal to give a refund to any prepaid subscriber whose load credits were forfeited without any valid cause.

“Every peso spent by the consumer to purchase prepaid load credits must be usable until fully consumed,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

The senator said his bill covers all prepaid load credits, not just call and text credits, but also those that are loaded to devices to be used for other telecommunications services, including, but not to limited to tablets, Wi-Fi dongles, or mobile hotspots.

It also includes transferred or shared prepaid load credits.

Gatchalian said his proposal will potentially impact 142,432,163 prepaid subscribers – or 96.6 percent of the total number of mobile subscribers in the country as of the first quarter of 2019.

He said they stand to lose their hard-earned prepaid load credits due to non-use before the set expiry date.

Gatchalian explained that the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 05-12-2017 of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) currently prescribes a one-year validity period for prepaid load credits of all PTEs and ICT providers with a denomination of P300 and above effective last January 5, 2018.

He said prepaid loads purchased for promos and bucket of services with a specific period of use duly approved by the DTI and/or the NTC are not covered by the circular.

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