Monday, July 15, 2024

Delivering Stories of Progress


FIRING LINE: Suggestions for the incoming DepEd chief

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Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Before he even takes his oath as Secretary of Education, Sen. Sonny Angara must bear in mind that the problems plaguing our education system are deeply rooted if not multi-faceted. Worse, over the past two years, it was highly politicized.

But it is never enough to merely recognize these issues. What’s important are concrete steps to address them. First, teacher quality and morale must be restored. This may be through bigger salaries, but more effectively through continuous training, and reducing administrative burdens so they can focus on teaching.

Review the class sizes and make them smaller to ensure effective learning. Congestion, sadly, is not only evident in rooms but in the curriculum as well. Focus on Math, Sciences, and reading comprehension — the very areas of learning our young learners have found themselves at the near bottom of the global index.

And can you please consider this mother-tongue mode of instruction? Some experts dispute this, and the quality of our students these days does not make a good defense for the argument. Of course, there’s the issue of malnutrition: to be able to learn well, our children must be well-fed beginning from the womb.

Next, the infrastructure backlog is unacceptable. Every school should have adequate classrooms, textbooks, and technology. Fix the DepEd relationship with the printing industry. Make the bidding transparent and corruption-free!

Raiding PhilHealth funds?

Of all the funds that go around, dare touch those meant for our health? That seems to be the case right now as per Department of Finance Circular No. 003-2024 which targets PhilHealth funds.

Remember that PhilHealth is a lifeline for Filipinos, funded by the hard-earned salaries of employees and taxes aimed at providing universal healthcare. Every month, we dutifully contribute, expecting reliable health insurance to shield us from the staggering costs of medical care.

Yet, the government’s latest move through this DOF circular seeks to siphon PhilHealth’s savings into unprogrammed funds. Might I remind you that Sen. Koko Pimentel already called out with great apprehension these unprogrammed funds amounting to P450 billion, which were suspiciously inserted into the 2024 national budget.

Now, that there is nothing in the approved budget that can bankroll these insertions, the DOF will volunteer raiding PhilHealth’s savings? It’s infuriating that while we struggle with hospital bills and medical emergencies, the government eyes our health funds for their unapproved expenditures.

Even if PhilHealth has excess funds, they are not meant to be political piggy banks. Instead, the government should increase its subsidy to PhilHealth to enhance coverage. Currently, PhilHealth covers only a fraction of actual medical bills, leaving Filipinos burdened with enormous out-of-pocket expenses.

When we get sick or hospitalized, we deserve to be in a position to demand better – not chase after funds allocated to projects lobbied by political opportunists.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X. Read current and past issues of this column at

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