Senator calls for reopening of schools

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 27, 2020   •   624

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Imee Marcos is calling for the reopening of schools.

The senator expressed her dismay that cockfighting activities have already been allowed to resume but students are still prohibited from returning to school.

She also said it is better for local offices of the Department of Education (DepEd) and school boards to have the authority to decide on the reopening of schools.

“Talagang nadismaya ako na mas mahalaga pa pala ang sabong sa Pilipino kaysa sa edukasyon. Linggong nakalipas, binuksan na ang sabungan, pero ang eskwela, sarado pa rin, (I was really dismayed that cockfighting is more important to Filipinos than education. Weeks have passed and cockfighting arenas were reopened but schools remain closed),” she said.

“Hindi naman yata tama. Bigyan naman natin ng kahalagahan ang ating edukasyon. Alam naman natin na hindi super spreader ang mga eskwelahan (That is not right. We should give importance to our education, we know schools are not super spreaders),” she added.

For Senate Committee on Basic Education chairperson Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the COVID-19 situation in the country is gradually improving and it is high time to review having localized, limited face-to-face classes, especially in areas with zero COVID-19 cases.

Gatchalian reported, there are around 500 municipalities in the country with no COVID-19 cases.

“I have consulted with our mayors in the BARMM area. They are quite worried because the feedback they are getting is a lot of their parents didn’t
even finish elementary or high school. So, they don’t have that confidence of teaching their children at home,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DepEd said they are still finalizing their recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the reopening of schools. The department also reiterated that the decision on whether schools will be reopened is up to the President.

DepEd Usec. Nepomuceno Malaluan said reopening schools would still pose challenges. There is a need for coordination between schools, the local government, and parents in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s very important that there is an understanding of a shared responsibility when we get to reintroduce the face-to-face that there is a strong agreement and unity with the local government that this is something that we need to do. The parents should also be aware of the risks involved,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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Mark Villar leads senatorial survey

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) secretary Mark Villar is the top pick among senatorial bets in the 2022 elections, according to a survey by the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. (RPMD).

Villar stepped down as the department secretary to vie for a senatorial seat under the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban’s (PDP-Laban) senatorial slate led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

The survey, conducted from October 17 to 27, 2021, showed Villar as the top candidate for senator followed by radio and television personality Raffy Tulfo with voters’ preference of  53.5 percent and 53.1 percent rating, respectively. Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero followed the top 2 with 48.9 percent.

Making it to the top 7 to 12 are Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano with 48.5 percent voter’s preference, Antique Representative Loren Legarda with 48.2 percent and former vice president Jejomar Binay with 37.4 percent. Also making it to the top 12 are Former senator Jinggoy Estrada (35.1 percent), senator Sherwin Gatchalian (34.6 percent), Juan Miguel Zubiri (33.5 percent), senator Risa Hontiveros (30.2 percent), former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista (29.1 percent) and Sen. Joel Villanueva (28.7 percent).

Meanwhile, placing in the top 13 to 16 are senator Richard Gordon (28.3 percent), former senator Joseph Victor Estrada Ejercito (27.5 percent), former representative Gilbert Teodoro (26.2 percent) and former senator Gringo Honasan (25.8 percent).

The non-commissioned survey is part of the presidential and vice-presidential survey series “RPMD- Halalan 2022” and used face-to-face interviews nationwide with 10,000 registered voters as respondents. AAC

Recto wants ‘Buy Filipino’ rule restored in national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ralph Recto underscores the need to restore the “Buy Filipino” provision in the national budget.

This is amid the controversy regarding the procurement of expensive personal protective equipment (PPE) from China.

Recto said there is a better quality locally produced PPE available at a far lower price.

The senator said that, before it was scrapped in 2014, the Buy Filipino provision mandated the government to prioritize the procurement of Philippine-made products.

“In the wake of the calamitous domination by a fly-by-night, undercapitalized, zero track record foreign-owned company in a big PS-DBM-DOH contract, a united Senate should reinstate the Buy Philippine-made provision in the 2022 national budget,” he said.

Recto said the Buy Filipino provision should be put back in the national budget to help struggling domestic manufacturers keep operating and meet payroll during the pandemic.

Wala pang COVID, mayroon nang ganoong batas noon. Hindi ba mas lalo na ngayon na kailangan ng mga naghihingalong lokal na kumpanya ng benta upang manatili silang bukas at hindi magsisante ng mga manggagawa (There was no COVID-19 yet at that time but there was already an existing provision. Isn’t it necessary now more than ever for the local companies in need of profit to remain open and not to lay off workers)?” he stressed.

He also added that there is a “vibrant domestic manufacturing industry” that can supply the government’s annual shopping list of supplies and equipment.

When the Buy Filipino provision was last seen in the 2013 General Appropriations Act, it stated that “priority shall be given to the purchase of locally-produced and manufactured materials to be undertaken either by administration or by contract.” AAC

Poe calls on PhilHealth, DBM to expedite release of funds to hospitals, health workers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe has called on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to expedite the release of funds to hospitals and health workers.

“With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, our hospitals must be adequately staffed and stocked with the needed supplies. They can only do so if they themselves aren’t bleeding. We ought not to exacerbate an already tenuous situation by demoralizing our medical frontliners,” Poe said.

There were also reports from medical workers that they hardly felt the billions of pesos allocated for frontliners under the Bayanihan 1 and 2. There were also medical workers who have yet to receive their special risk allowance.

“We must do our utmost for the health sector and ensure that our medical frontliners and hospitals are paid to enable them to look after the sick and save lives. For as long as this isn’t done, our situation will just drag on,” Poe reiterated.

She said that calls on these two agencies for the timely release of funds needed to combat the pandemic have been repeatedly made by various institutions.

The government should also provide enough assistance in the next two weeks so the public wouldn’t need to go out of their homes and risk contracting the disease or being accosted by the police.

“People will not insist on going out if they can put food on the table. They wouldn’t have to go out if their needs are met,” Poe said. -AAC

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