On mandatory ROTC and investing in our youth

Manifestation of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Senate hearing on the proposed mandatory ROTC bill

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

Mr Chairman, I am happy to give a very short intervention for the consideration of our esteemed resource persons, many of whom I know are learned men, most are men yata, yung spokesperson natin sa DND. Sana magdala din kayo ng babaeng spokesperson para may gender voice din tayo. But good afternoon po sa lahat ng spokespersons natin.

Mr Chairman, let me go straight to the points I’d like to raise. I’ve been studying the bills, and as you know, I joined you in the first hearing last Congress, if you recall. I’ve been studying these bills and I note that the the bills have their foundation and history way back in the original ROTC, I don’t know if it was a law or mandate that goes back in 2012. Sen JV Ejercito mentioned this in his explanatory note.

And as I review the different bills, it seems to me that it is still premised on that narrative, yun bang turn of the century where the Filipino people… their human selves are putting their lives at stake to defend their country. Literally yung katawan nila ang human shields. And of course, our Chairman and our colleagues here who have a military background know more about that than me, diba? From bow and arrows to shotguns to propeller planes that were dropping bombs, I am talking about world wars, na naging jets na, naging nuclear war na, and now we’re talking about chemical warfare and cyber attacks, and the like.

So I humbly submit that these bills do not represent those realities. When I read the bills, of course, you will not see anything there that talks specifically about marching on the field and all that. But it seems to be a very physical endeavor, that’s why apparently there is an exception on those with special needs, which was actually pointed out by the representative from the National Youth Commission.

I am all for physical activity, you know that. I’ve done marathons, Ironmans, triathlons. I am all for physical activity. I believe a healthy body goes hand-in-hand with a healthy mind. But if we are truly trying to address these existential threats that we need to face, to me these would be some of the following.

These ‘existential threats’ to me are food security, I need not go into details but just the lengthy discussions even us senators had both on the floor and off the floor, from asin, the passion of our Majority Floor Leader, Sen. Joel Villanueva, from asin to onions, to eggs. Food security is a real threat.

Another threat that we have is water scarcity. Already in some parts of the country. We in Metro Manila, I know because I am from the southern part of Metro Manila, in BF Homes, Paranaque, which is a middle class subdivision. Wow, decades na yan walang tubig at certain times of the day. And in Visayas and Mindanao, there are certain areas there that don’t have electricity, water. These are serious threats to our daily existence and productivity as a nation.

And then third would be the effects of climate change. Sen. Loren Legarda who, always, is on top of this issue, she delivered a privilege speech just this Monday. We have islands that are sinking. The homes of people can be gone in a matter of decades.

And then the draining of our human capital. All over the world, every day, I see news about health workers going on strike in other parts of the world, countries that are richer than us, in the US, in the UK, hospitals that are in dire demand of health workers. Schools that are in demand of teachers. Saan nila kukunin yun? Sa Pilipinas po. They are getting our very valuable human resource for their own needs, not for ours, but for their needs. Karapatan naman po ng mga kababayan natin to go where their heart leads them, where they need to go.

But these are clear existential threats which I don’t think any of our colleagues and our esteemed resource persons can deny. So, my challenge, dear colleagues, and to our resource persons, is how can we use best this human capital?

Kasi when I read the bills, the narrative seems to be nga, yung pagkaalam ko sa ROTC. I’d like you to educate me and tell me how these existential threats I mentioned will be addressed in that way? Because I would prefer, and this is a personal preference, with all due humility, that we continue to invest in the education of our youth for STEM related classes [and] courses, where they would be able to develop our own strengths by way of ensuring that wala nang magugutom sa Pilipinas; by way of ensuring that we desalinate water, we filter water so that we have clean water. And tama naman ang mention nang disaster risk, but these are very specific skills training that are required.

And I humbly submit that we will be taking away valuable hours that should be used, whether it’s in the classrooms or on the field, developing these skills that our youth, either already have or can be further honed, but not by way of military training per se.

Now on the issue of compulsory, narinig ko some of the comments of our dear colleagues, you want a professional group, you want them to be dedicated. Pero the most professional and dedicated are those who choose it for themselves. Hindi yung mandatory na wala ka naman choice and you are forced to do something. Medyo mahirap to get dedication out of that.

And then in terms of love for country and patriotism, I submit that our men in uniform are patriots and devoted to our country. But I also would like to forward the idea that when are we most united? Hindi ba ho when we watch sports, when we see the former Sen. Manny Pacquiao defend the title, when we watch the Olympics, kahit po kaming mga senators cheering in the lounge, nag-break kami sandali just to cheer for EJ Obiena and the other Olympians. And I don’t think anyone can question their dedication, their discipline. So kung ang pag-uusapan is discipline, and I know colleagues of ours who swear that they developed discipline through ROTC training. Ako din, I swear that I developed my discipline through sports training as a varsity athlete. So there are different ways of developing discipline, your honors.

And this is really like what I’d like for us to determine when we come up with a bill that I don’t think any of us would deny that the objectives are good. Developing discipline, love of country, patriotism. We all agree on that. But what is the way to get to that? That is something I feel has to be explored further, deeper. Because there is just not one way, your honor.

So yan ang humble request ko, na pag-aralan ito and tell me, I am happy to sit down and discuss this further because I am really worried na at the rate our education system is going, and we have improved, to take away valuable time from the students to do this, when they could be still serving our country and maybe be more effective by pursuing the courses that are already available there. We have a shortage of nurses, doctors. So mamamatay din ang mga kababayan natin from diseases when we don’t have enough health workers to take care of them.

I’d rather, with all humility, that they be working on this, their degrees to save lives, than an existential threat. And I think the existential threat of being invaded, and the skill requirement naman that will come out of a 2-year graduate will really not be – and again with due respect, I don’t know, I am not an expert – to address that. Pero if we have doctors who are saving lives, I can assure you that they will save lives. If we have teachers who will teach better and come up with students that can address IT cyber attacks, our Chairman was very active in the hearings on that, as were many other colleagues. Cyber attacks are real but we cannot even begin to counter that if we don’t have the expertise in those areas. Those are the areas I feel that are important for us to look into.

So I rest my case there, Mr Chairman. You know that I believe in healthy debates and I am a team player. I would like to work with you on this. And by the way, with all due respect din, I am a graduate of ATCSS, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. I was sponsored by the US government to study in Hawaii and ang classmates ko karamihan are civilian and men, mostly men, pero alam ko may ladies din pero wala lang akong classmate. My classmates were all men in uniform except for one other woman from Hong Kong. So my point is, yung studies namin doon, lahat were on ‘soft security’ kasi these were the threats. Soft security is what I talked about – yung water scarcity, food scarcity, human lives being lost to health issues. And so that’s the discussion that I’d like to be a part of.

And on a last note, thank you Mr Chairman for giving me the time to express my views on this. I also take note that it’s only the National Youth Commission that spoke on behalf of the youth. I believe that there are other youth groups who would like to speak also. And sa akin lang naman po, having been a senator for nakalimutan ko na gaano katagal, 13 years, the Senate has always to my mind been the best venue for the healthy exchange of ideas. So I hope that we will also be able to listen to them. I know it’s the prerogative of the Committee Chair kung sino magsasalita. Pero [for this bill] changing the 4 or 2 years that students are going to be in school, I think it’s very important that we listen to them, including other experts on developmental psychology and education, because I’d really like to know if yung goals natin would be achieved through this manner.

So yun lang po Mr Chairman and thank you very much.#

At the hearing on the proposed mandatory ROTC , Senator Pia Cayetano cited several ways to develop discipline and patriotism among the youth, which would enable them to serve the country. (file photo)

Co-sponsoring the 2023 national budget

Co-sponsorship speech on the proposed 2023 nat’l budget
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Senior Vice Chairperson, Senate Committee on Finance

Mr. President, I rise today to co-sponsor the 2023 budget as the Senior Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Finance in charge of the budgets of the (a) Department of Health and its attached agencies and corporations; (b) Department of Education and its attached agencies; (c) Commission on Higher Education; (d) State Universities and Colleges; (e) Cultural Agencies; and (f) the Development Academy of the Philippines.

I won’t go into details on the budgets I handled as Chairperson, because our Chairman already highlighted many of them. Suffice it to say, we sought to future-proof and use strategic foresight, to uphold intergenerational fairness, and to be prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead, because we do live in a VUCA world. VUCA, meaning, Volatile Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.

We heard the agencies using the lens of futures thinking and the [Sustainable Development Goals] as the main blueprint and guide to help attain the different goals for a more sustainable and prosperous future.

And although the agencies whose budget this representation heard were those on health, education and the cultural agencies…as your Senior Vice Chair, we sought to participate in other hearings and will continue to do so in the plenary debates using the same lens that will ensure intergenerational fairness.

Naturally, we are guided by the Constitution – Article XIV, Section 5, par. 5 provides that “The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.”

With studies showing that learning poverty in the Philippines is real, and the detrimental effects of not being in the classroom for almost two years due to the restrictions imposed because of COVID both in basic education and at the tertiary level, it is only fitting that we continue to look for ways to support the education sector.

On health, Article XIII, Sec. 11 of the Constitution provides that “the State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost.”

The continued support for the health sector is reflected in the budget, thanks to our Chairman. This includes improving facilities and their operations, particularly the delivery of primarily health care services, but also the establishment of specialty centers and their operations.

Increasing the carrying capacity for existing medical state universities and colleges, providing support to those with pending applications to offer medical programs , as well as increasing the carrying capacity of SUCs with Nursing and Allied Health Programs.

On another matter, UNICEF has reported that the Philippines has one million children who have not received a single dose of childhood vaccine. Funding for the hiring of immunization vaccinators will help us prevent a serious outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases like polio and measles.

On a final note, this representation appreciates the Chairperson’s trust over the years, and we thank the LBRMO and all the staff who worked on the budget. We will be ready to provide our colleagues with answers to their questions in the hope that we can continue to support these agencies. Thank you, Mr. President. #

Pia backs funding for alternative child care

Question: On funding for alternative child care under the DSWD budget

Senator Pia S. Cayetano: In the last Congress, around the latter part of 2021, we passed a new law on domestic adoption and creating the NACC (National Authority on Child Care). Ito kasing NACC will now house ICAB (Inter-Country Adoption Board), [and handle both] international adoption and domestic adoption.

Alaga ko yan because as some of you may know, I have an adopted child. Ang puso ko ay andoon para sa mga batang katulad niya na nangangailangan ng pamilyang magmamahal sa kanya, and also for abused children who may need temporary homes, Foster Care Law naman yun. So malapit talaga ito sa puso ko, on a personal and professional level because ako ang nagpasa ng mga batas na yun.

Come 2023, tinatanong ko ang NACC kung okay na, magkano budget, are you ready to continue serving the needs of Filipino children? Nagulat ako na ang budget lang na hawak nila is dating budget ng ICAB, 30-something million [later corrected: P56 million]. Pang international adoption yun.

Also, karamihan naman ng bata is for domestic adoption. Hindi daw sila nabibigyan ng pondong yun, so yun ang kina-clarify ko sa DSWD na saan ang pondo, ang support? Ang pagkapaliwanag kasi ‘transition period,’ but the law is very clear. Kaya nga tayo may transition period para smooth ang transition, hindi maaantala, hindi made-delay ang delivery of social services niyo sa mga batang itong nangangailangan.

So to be clear, ang job ng NACC is to provide alternative child care. Hindi naman sila ang nagre-rescue, sila ang sasalo. Kasi sabi ni Sec. Tulfo, maraming street children na sasaluhin nila. Sabi ko, saan mo ilalagay? Yun nga ang Foster Care Law. Ilalagay mo sila sa foster care. Ang mga Pilipino, by nature, mahilig mag-ampon. Kamag-anak, kapatid ng kamag-anak, kapitbahay. So [the Foster Care Law] legitimizes ang ginagawa naman nang kusa ng mga Pilipino.

Banggitin ko lang ang amounts… Ang budget ni ICAB P56 million  – yun lang ang binigay kay NACC. Samantalang umamin naman sa hearing na ang budget for the alternative child care is P220 milllion. Hindi naman nila binibigay doon. So sa hearing sinabi ko, ano maliwanag, ibibigay niyo? Dahil wala naman ibang mag-iimplement nun kundi si NACC. Sabi nila, i-implement nila, salamat kasi job ng NACC ngayon yan.

Q: NACC said they didn’t know they had a budget..

SPSC: In fairness kasi to NACC, si Executive Director Janella Estrada, talagang nagre-request siya ng funding and support. Ang kinomit (commit) daw sa kanya, if I am not mistaken, you can interview her, is 50 social workers. Pero kulang pa nga yun, kasi if you look at NACC, regional yan, lahat yan kumpleto. Plus the budget. Budget lang ni ICAB yun so paano niya pagkakasyahin yun? Sabi niya humihingi siya talaga, I believe her kasi ever since na-appoint siya tinatanong ko siya, kumusta na, ma-iimplement mo yun? Because the law does not allow for the services to stop. Kailangan tuloy tuloy yun.

Alam niyo napakasaklap, may mga bata iniwan, ulila. One year old, two years old, hindi naaasikaso, 3, 5, 10 years old. Wala nang umaampon. So it’s so crucial na mapaampon mo sila habang bata dahil mas madaling ma-ampon. Yes anytime pwede naman mag-ampon, pero less ang chances na maa-ampon sila. So time is of the essence. Of course, hindi mo rin pwede madaliin dahil meron din mga sindikato, ayaw din naman natin mangyari yun.

So the point is, matagal na siyang humihingi ng pondo at hindi naman siya binibigyan. So I’d like to believe na naging successful ang hearing dahil nag-commit ang DSWD na yung P220 million na yan para kay NACC yan for alternative child care: foster care, adoption.

To be clear lang, kasi hindi alam ng karamihan, kaya tayo gumawa ng batas na yun because medyo matagal din ang proseso through the judicial adoption. This law now allows na administrative ang adoption, kaya kailangan talaga nila ng pondo kasi ang burden ng justice system noon sa judge, sa kanila na mapupunta. Sila na ngayon ang uusisa doon sa qualifications ng parents na gusto mag-adopt so we have to equip them.

And idagdag ko doon yung issue kung natatandaan niyo, tinanong ko ang Secretary, sabi ko, I assume po na alam niyo na may shortage tayo ng social workers. Sila ang gagawa ng trabaho na yun eh. And all the other work that is required sa DSWD. Very important ang social workers, and we have a shortage.

It has to be addressed kaya tinatanong ko kung nakikipag-usap na kayo sa CHED para magkaroon tayo ng mas maraming schools na nag-o-offer ng course na ganito. Sa DBM din, kailangan maging attractive ang salary ng social workers if we really want to attract social workers to [the DSWD].

Q: Kailan pa walang budget NACC?

SPSC: Bago ang batas na yan. So before naging batas itong domestic adoption law na ito, DSWD really handled adoption and foster care sa budget nila. That’s why I asked, in this current year, 2022, P162 million ang budget. And then next year, may P220 million siya na budget. But that is found in the item that is called protective services for individuals and families in difficult circumstances. P19 billion ang budget na yun for AICS. So naka-lump sum ang P19 billion na yun, so sabi ko, bakit hindi niyo ibibigay? As far as I am concerned, 2 items yan, AICS and children in need. Huwag niyo naman ibigay lahat yan sa AICS. Ang AICS po is yung binibigay na assistance naman for people in need. But this is a separate need. And it is part of that budget. So we have to ask kasi hindi ko yan nakikita on the face of the budget. Yung P220 million na yun.

Q: Ano po sakop ng NACC?

PSC: Lahat ng klase ng adoption, international and local, foster care, and pati mga guardianship. Kaya nga alternative care. Meron pa kasing ibang alternative care na hindi ganun ka-defined under the law. Basta lahat ng alternative care. In other words, lahat ng sitwasyon na ang bata, hindi lumalaki sa magulang niya, sila yan, sa magulang or substitute parent, kasi di ba may lolo’t lola din naman to be legalistic about it.

Ang lumalabas nung nag-present, si ED Janella, nagre-request siya sa amin ng pondo, sabi ko, teka teka, bago ka mag-request, may assumption na either wala talagang budget, hindi ka binigyan ng budget. Meron kang budget, sandali. Kaya online ako kanina, pumunta pa talaga ako dito [Senate hearing], gusto ko talagang alamin kung sino dyan ang Usec na in charge dyan na why is [NACC] begging for funding for alternative child care? May funding yan [alternative child care] every year for how many years. Tapos nawala? O di andoon pala.

They assured us in the hearing that [the funding] will be released for NACC. That is for NACC.

Q: Even during the transition period?

SPSC: Yes, you know, that’s why the history of the law is also very important and I was asking the Usecs, matagal na ba kayo dito? Kasi I want to be sure na naiintindihan nila ang obligation. The law is very clear, the law says, there is a 3-year transition period to ensure that there will be no disruption in the delivery of services.

These services cannot be delayed. That’s why the law is very clear. The purpose lang naman kasi of that transition is the executive director of ICAB will continue to oversee [international adoption]. Hindi ibig sabihin na iho-hold niyo ang budget, walang ganun. Kaya iniintindi ko sa kanila, ano bang intindi niyo dyan sa transition? It doesn’t matter to me if the transition takes a year, 2 years, or 3 years. The point is, no disruption of services.

Q: On POGOs

PSC: First of all, wala naman ako doon [meeting between senators and the Chinese ambassador] kaya hindi na ako magko-comment specifically on that exchange. In general lang sa POGO, if you have a question but on that exchange I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t there. Some of the senators were there, I wasn’t there.

Q: Are you in favor of banning POGOs?

PSC: Can I also give a little bit of history? If you recall, ako yung Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means when we passed the law taxing the POGOs. Kasi, just like vape, ibalik natin sa favorite subject ko, ang vapes, we decided: do we ban or regulate, right?

So just like vapes, nag-decide tayo, hindi ban, ire-regulate. Ilagay dyan ang FDA, gawing 21 years of age, and so on and so forth. Aba, nabaliktad, pumasa ng bagong batas kung saan tinanggal sa FDA at ginawang younger ang access ng kabataan. I am against that, as you know.

So similarly, ang POGO, there was a discussion, do we ban or do we regulate? Ang gusto ng administration, the past administration, let us regulate. Job ko lang naman as the Committee on Ways and Means Chair, we regulate, tax, pak, ayan ang tax niyo. Now, nag-escalate obviously ang mga reported crimes and I am sure maraming unreported. Kapag ganun na dumadating na sa bansa natin, sila naman ang nagdadala ng kaguluhan, I am totally fine with banning it. Kasi pa-regulate regulate ka pa, hindi naman natin nako-control at nasasaktan ang mismong mga Pilipino, di i-ban na lang. I am very open to that na i-ban yan.

Q: Will you join Sen Win’s recommendation to ban?

PSC: I don’t know the details of his recommendation but I am very open nga to banning. Kasi nga, kung wala naman tayong napapala, there were projections on what amounts we can collect, pero technically no amount naman, di ba? No amount naman can justify the damage that’s being done. So again, ibalik natin sa favorite topic ko na vapes, kahit naman nakaka-collect ka pero tinanggal mo naman sa authority ng FDA ang pagre-regulate nyan at wala naman kakayahan ang DTI na mag-regulate nyan, so what kung tinax mo, sinira mo naman ang buhay at kalusugan ng kabataan? So that is my analogy.

Q: Lost revenues?

SPSC: Yun nga, that’s very interesting, kasi nga yun nga ang projections nung nagche-chair pa ako nyan around 2021-2022, but the actual collection is like 10 percent of that, mga P3 billion so ang layo nga dibba? So again, let’s be clear, ang stand ko is no amount, even if napatupad yang P30 billion [projected revenues] na-collect, will that justify the loss of life? That criminal environment that we’re living in? For me, kahit ako ang sponsor nun, I will ask to revisit the policy, right? Tapos worse pa, ni wala kang natatanggap o napakaliit ng natatanggap. So for me, very open to banning kung ganyan din lang.

Q: Through legislation or executive order?

SPSC: Actually kaya naman yan ng executive order kasi desisyon naman nila yan. Undesirable alien ka, divba? So pwede naman yan executive. Yan ang mabilis, pero syempre sometimes gusto naman ng senators to be strong about the position that we also… yung [resolution expressing the] sense of the Senate, pwede rin naman yun. But it can definitely be an executive decision.

Q: Update on F2F classes in higher education..

SPSC: Well, balik ko lang doon sa sinasabi ko, I was very happy that DepEd has made a very clear policy on F2F. And in their presentation, the exceptions to F2F are very clear. The exceptions are defined, if there are circumstances that you really cannot have F2F. Like there is a calamity in that area. And as we already know, may mga ALS students tayo and the like na alternative, so clearly, hindi sila sakop ng full F2F, right?

So that is something we discussed during the DepEd hearing and like I said, there was nothing to discuss because DepEd has been very clear about that policy.

Pagdating sa CHED and SUCs, including UP, I was quite surprised and shocked that there did not seem to be a clear direction on the return of full F2F. Let me repeat that phrase: I was shocked that there was not a clear direction on the return of full F2F. Kasi ang lumalabas after the hearing, meron namang F2F sa mga schools. Meron naman kung sa meron, pero full F2F ba yun? Once a week ba sila pumapasok, once a month? Because the reports I have clearly and sinabi din yun sa hearing [on the budget for higher learning last September 27], yung mga sciences and medical school, matagal na naman bumalik. And I said that’s old news. Huwag niyo naman ipagmalaki na bumalik na ang med school and sciences a year ago because precisely it’s been a year. What about the students who are taking GE [General Education] courses? The report I have is that many of those taking GE courses do not have F2F. In fact, completely online. Blended pa ba tawag doon? Kapag completely online. Hindi na blended tawag dun, di ba? Blended is some form of different modality. So for example, when I was a freshman in UP, meron kaming Economics 11, si Prof. Winnie Monsod, sa auditorium once a week, lahat yan, ilan kami, 300, 400 students… And then meron kang breakout session in a small classroom, that’s a form of blended, auditorium style, then small classroom. Another form of blended, which I am okay with seeing now is if there is a pre recorded lecture and then yun ang one hour na kapalit ng auditorium, and then after that, they break up the following, Wednesday, Friday, in their small groups. No problem. That is the true blended. Hindi yung 100 percent online. Hindi blended yun. Ang tawag dun, online.

Q: UP lang ba?

SPSC: UP did not have a clear direction for return to F2F because they were actually telling me the reasons they could not do full F2F, all of which I was able to…ako naman may explanation ako doon. Like one reason nga was hindi raw pumapayag ang LGU. Sabi ko doon sa hearing, sige let’s use UP Diliman as an example, hindi raw pumapayag ang Quezon City, eh I contacted Mayor Joy Belmonte and wala raw problema sa F2F. And so on and so forth. May parents daw na concerned, sabi ko, isn’t it our job to assure the parents that it’s time to move on? Kasi the example I gave, I was talking to Chancellor [Carmencita] Padilla, Chancellor of UP Manila just now, sabi ko, if you tell me that there are parents that are hesitant to send their kids kasi kinakabahan, I believe you. Meron naman parents na ganun ang feeling. Pero di ba job natin to tell them that we cannot sacrifice the education of your child. It’s like 100 years ago, where there were parents who said they will not send their children to school kasi kailangan nila ang mga bata sa farms, divba totoo yun, alam niyo yan. Ayaw pag-aralin kasi kailangan sa farms. But that’s why we said, no, you need to educate your children. And that is my stand. Higher education is just as important in our economic development and improving the standards of living of that family. Do you know that the biggest learning loss is for poorer families? So the biggest losers here are the poorer families kasi sila naman ang walang laptop, may poor internet connection. So kung ipapagpatuloy yan [blended], the biggest losers are the poorer families in the poorer regions.

That’s why I want a clearer direction. Now your question was UP lang ba o pati CHED? Well, let’s see tomorrow [next budget hearing on higher education] sabi naman ni Chairman Popoy [De Vera of CHED], nagbigay naman siya ng directive for full F2F. But at the time of the report, there were 32 SUCs that have full F2F and the rest were less.. and now from what I know, 114 SUCs have committed to full F2F. Pero I will wait for the formal hearing because this should be on record diba? Hindi naman pwedeng pinaparating lang sa akin. And I also get it from Chairman Popoy, kasi I need to see the leadership. because, bukas na lang [finance hearing]…

Q: Does F2F conflict with the use of technology as a mode of learning?

SPSC: Wala naman akong problema with using technology, like I said, kung talaga namang blended ang ibibigay mo. So for example, if you say, syempre kids have been deprived of F2F learning going on their third year. So I think everyone can say by this time, makita naman nila ang teachers nila, classmates nila, professors nila.

But on that note, if you will say, like the example I gave, once a week, F2F with the teacher, and then the other week, group kayo in school, mingling with your classmates for the group work, and then another one day a week, may one-on-one ka ba sa teacher mo, then that’s the true blended and truly using technology to have access [to learning].

There is a study, and unahan ko na kayo, gusto niyo sige sa inyo ko na lang iko-quote ang study… There is a study which I think is a no-brainer naman. When there is zero access to school, then obviously technology helps, because from zero, may access ka naman online. But if it’s a choice between F2F and online, winner parati ang F2F. Study na yan, hindi ako nag-imbento nyan. Ayaw ko na makipagtalo sa mga school administrators at teachers kasi alam naman nila yan. #

Senator Pia Cayetano on SUCs and UP: “I was shocked that there was not a clear direction on the return of full face-to-face classes.”

Pia’s first ten bills seek sustainability, education, future-proofing PH

Ensuring the sustainability of vital government programs, raising the level of education of the youth to become globally competitive, and future-proofing the Philippines for domestic and external shocks were the overarching themes of the first ten bills filed by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in the 19th Congress.

Cayetano, who chaired the Senate’s very first committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking in the previous 18th Congress, bared the list of her top ten measures for the new Congress, which officially opens session on July 25, as follows:

  1. Education Roadmap Act
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act
  3. Sustainability-Based Budgeting Act
  4. Sports Excellence Roadmap Act
  5. Increasing the Minimum Age of Access to Tobacco at 21 Years Old Act
  6. Water Sustainability Act
  7. Philippine Nursing Act amendments
  8. Sustainable Cities and Communities Act
  9. Safe Pathways Network Act
  10. Sustainable Transportation Act

“These bills are forward-looking and aim to prepare our nation better for the challenges ahead, while never losing sight of our sustainable development goals,” Cayetano explained, as she noted how the country faces the confluence of global public health and socio-economic crises.

“The health measures were drawn from our hard-earned lessons in the last two years in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to further strengthen our healthcare system to provide services for our people,” she added.

She said that the proposed Education Roadmap Act aims to produce Filipino graduates who are well-rounded and competitive, amid the rapidly changing demands of industries and the knowledge-based global economy.

“Aside from acquiring the so-called ‘four Cs’ of 21st Century skills – namely, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity – this bill is primarily aimed to help our students regain our edge in English proficiency, which we are fast losing,” she emphasized.

“English proficiency is a vital skill that has made Filipino workers and professionals in demand abroad, and has prompted multinational companies to invest heavily in the country’s IT-Business Process Management industry (IT-BPM),” she noted.

For the health sector, Cayetano emphasized legislation on two fronts: strengthening our healthcare structure, and sustaining support for our medical frontliners, particularly our nurses, who comprise the backbone of our health system.

It is for these reasons that Cayetano filed the bill establishing the country’s own Center for Disease Control and Prevention or PH CDC, and proposed amendments to the Philippine Nursing Act.

To recall, it was Cayetano who principally sponsored RA 9711, the 2009 law that established the Philippines’ own Food and Drug Administration, or PH FDA – which currently plays a key role in the government’s pandemic response.

Similarly, she is pushing for the establishment of the PH CDC as the Department of Health’s lead agency for the early detection of emerging diseases, and to formulate response measures for public health emergencies.

Recognizing the need to support the needs and development of the country’s nursing professionals, Cayetano filed a bill amending the Philippine Nursing Act to provide nurses with opportunities for continuing education and professional growth, as well as recognition and commensurate compensation for their specialized areas of work.

In addition, the senator has filed a measure pegging at 21 years old the minimum age of access to cigarettes and tobacco products.

“This will protect the health and wellbeing of the youth, and will make our policy consistent with the current minimum age of access to vapes and e-cigarettes at 21 under the Sin Tax Law of 2020, or RA 11467,” the senator noted.

Senator Cayetano wants sustainability to be the guiding framework in the budget programs of both the national government and local government units (LGUs), in the planning, development, and integration of cities and communities, in reorienting vital services like mass transportation and infrastructure, and in efficiently managing the country’s water resources.

To this end, Cayetano filed the following related measures: the Sustainability-Based Budgeting Act; Water Sustainability Act; Sustainable Cities and Communities Act; Sustainable Transportation Act; and lastly, the Safe Pathways Act – which seeks to develop a national network of bicycle lanes and ‘slow streets’ to promote and ensure the safety of cycling, walking, and the use of alternative modes of mobility.

Finally, Senator Pia, together with her brother, returning Senator Alan Cayetano, have jointly authored a measure that applies the same principles of sustainability and futures thinking in the development of Philippine Sports.

The Cayetanos’ co-authored bill, the Sports Excellence Roadmap Act, aims to lay down a 20-year road map to produce elite world-class athletes, which will be anchored on a solid grassroots program, as well as sustained training, exposure, and support for our national athletes and chosen focus sports. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
Ensuring the sustainability of vital government programs, raising the level of education of the youth, and future-proofing the Philippines for domestic and external shocks were the overarching themes of the first ten bills filed by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in the 19th Congress.

Preparing PH for the futures of education

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chair, Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking

I rise today to report on and sponsor the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking, jointly with the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, under Committee Report No. 643, on the Futures of Education.

This Committee Report examines the country’s current situation, problems, aspirations, and gathers the recommendations of experts and stakeholders during the Committee’s hearings and further study, in order to secure the best possible future for education. Interestingly, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to invite foreign experts who attended our hearings online.

Mr. President, we have filed a lengthy committee report, and also prepared a detailed sponsorship speech, but in the interest of time, I will just be quoting certain highlights of the Committee Report.

Like many countries around the world, we remain stuck in the factory model of education, a one-size-fits-all model that merely gauges the worth of students according to their test scores. The ideal future of education must instead value, recognize, and hone the individuality of each learner.

According to Dr. Peter Bishop, Founder and Executive Director of Teach the Future in Houston, Texas, “most educators and the society at large believe that the mission of education is to transmit knowledge and experience” to the next generations.

However, he noted that this view means that… “knowledge and experience is useful only to the extent that [what] the students [will] have in the future is the same as the world of the past” but in fact, “much of what schools teach their learners might actually be irrelevant if the world of the future is not the same as the past.”

The World Economic Forum (2020) states that in 10 years, automation technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to change 50% of jobs, while eliminating 5% of them. Due to this, 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills. 65% of students entering primary school today will work in jobs that do not yet exist.

The Committee makes use of futures thinking as a tool that provides a way of envisioning the different futures of education, and how to achieve the best one.

The Asian Development Bank explains the importance of futures thinking, I won’t read this into the record now, but they are part of this report.

Also in the report, we traced the history of education in the Philippines. We noted that the Philippines mirrored the factory model of education, which was prevalent in the West at the time of the industrial revolution. So, now we ask ourselves using Futures Thinking tools: “what does education look like in 10, 15, 20 or 30 years from now, based on the decisions we make today? What are the new skills and competencies that future generations are going to need? How are we preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist? And what kind of learning environments will be needed?”

Surprisingly, cartoons like “Betty in High School 2021 A.D.” – this is part of the Archie Series – published in 1997, and I show this on the screen, they were able to predict in 1997 that home-based education with the use of technology would become a thing. So if you look at the screen, it shows Betty studying in front of the computer.

In the ideal future of Philippine education, students are not only learning in the classroom, since blended learning and technology allow them to study and learn in different environments.

During the pandemic the lack of interaction between students became evident. Again, this was predicted in the 1997 cartoon series of Betty in High School, wherein Betty and her friends, Archie and Veronica and the like, visited their parents’ school and marveled at the canteen where the students could mix and mingle, and talk about their projects, they marveled at the classroom setting where all the students were sitting together. Something that they were not experiencing anymore, and something that our young students have now been experiencing for the past two years because of the pandemic.

In the ideal future, curricula and courses are redesigned to address the needs of the future economies and technologies.

Teachers are more focused on teaching students 21st century skills and the 4 Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. Learning is also more personalized to the capabilities of students.

Education is refocused away from learning one field to developing multiple abilities and skills for a variety of fields, keeping future workers adaptable to shifting work environments.

SDG 4 includes the attainment of education for all. Without a clear vision of our desired future of education, students will remain bound to classroom-based learning with little flexibility. Learners in remote areas without the ability to take advantage of technology, may find it very difficult to expand their learning environments and creativity, and learners will lack the skill set to thrive in a more competitive and connected work environment.

It should be emphasized that achieving SDG 4 on Quality Education will help us realize all the other SDGs – such as good health, sustainable cities and communities, decent work and economic growth, among others – and will empower Filipinos with the skills needed to build a successful, dignified life, contributing to not just on the national but on the global stage as well.

But still a lot of work needs to be done to achieve our preferred future. To this end, Dr. Alex Brillantes of the National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines, emphasized the importance of cooperation, competition, and thinking globally and acting locally.

By employing futures thinking at the policy level, we can have a systematic assessment of education and its direction in light of the potentials of the future.

On this note, the Department of Education has been one of the first agencies to have created a futures office. According to Secretary Briones, this is the DepEd’s “response to the need for futures thinking in education, for readiness to confront the rapid changes, the challenges, and opportunities of the future.”

We also recognize our colleagues who have also been supportive of institutionalizing and mainstreaming futures thinking in the education sector, particularly:

Senator Gatchalian, the Chairman of [the Basic Education Committee], who has sponsored a number of education reform measures and agrees on the importance of assessing where we are, to come up with solutions to the problems we find, and to look at the future;

Senator Villanueva, the Chairman of Higher Education and TESDA, who has emphasized the need to integrate futures perspectives in higher education; and

Senator Angara, who has adopted our recommendation of funding various futures thinking initiatives in the last three years.

We have various recommendations, which are in our Committee Report. But let me just emphasize:

  • Institutionalizing and providing an enabling environment for Futures Thinking in education and relevant agencies is very important;
  • Focusing on the whole child and supporting their holistic well-being;
  • Prioritizing the knowledge, skills, and mindsets in order to develop 21st Century competencies;
  • Ensuring that our local workforce is prepared to join the global workforce through training in English proficiency and digital literacy;
  • Improving the teaching profession;
  • Taking advantage of and investing in technology and innovation to enhance education; and
  • Crafting and implementing the relevant legislation and policies, and providing the necessary budgetary support.
  • In conclusion, with the world changing and advancing so rapidly, we are faced with the choice of either adapting or being left behind.

In cultivating a better environment for education and learning, we must devote more time and resources into research, planning, and investments to take us steps closer into our preferred future of education.

While this Committee Report is far from exhaustive, the Committee hopes that it is a small step towards bettering our education system for the long-term, and challenging our current views so that we can empower Filipinos with the skills needed to build a successful, dignified life, contributing again not only to the country, but also on a global stage.

Thank you, Mr. President.#

Senator Pia Cayetano: schools should focus on teaching students 21st century skills, including the 4 Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication.

Education for all

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Author and Co-sponsor, RA 11650, ‘Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act’

Every child deserves an education.

Finally, we have a law that recognizes the needs of learners with disabilities.

Although there are such schools around the country, they are not enough to meet the needs of all the children.

I have been a supporter of schools for kids with special needs even before I became a senator. That’s because my son, Gabriel was born with multiple disabilities. And though he died before he turned one, I often wondered how he or kids like him would cope in schools, many of which don’t have the training to deal with kids with learning disabilities.

This law will also create job opportunities in the education and health fields.

And of course, this can only be a success with the cooperation of the entire community.#

 

Strengthening partnerships in education

Speech for the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA)

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Sponsor, Republic Act No. 11635, granting preferential tax rates for proprietary educational institutions

Good afternoon, everyone! Thank you for having me and taking time to include me in this event, where you are taking note of the work that we’ve done. Thank you for the very kind introduction.

There’s not much really to say for me on this topic. I won’t go through it as you all know what the law is about. I think what I’d like to do now is to focus on the need for further collaboration between COCOPEA and the legislative side of government.

In my case, there are just so many laws that I feel can be implemented better. Obviously, we would like your input on how we can improve the delivery of education on these issues as well.

This law that we have just passed is evidence of our ability to work together and to address the concerns that you have. I have always said that the private sector, and of course, COCOPEA, is at the lead in terms of the group of members that you have. The private sector is our partner in the delivery of education to the Filipino people.

So your wellbeing is important to us. Because your being able to deliver your mandate effectively also allows us to also deliver our mandate as provided by the Constitution.

I’d like to point out a few issues which I feel are important, because this is just what we have done in the past months. And the outcome of that is really, like I said, just one of the many things that we can do together if we put our minds to it.

I’ll just mention some of these concerns that I have personally taken note of:

•Teen pregnancy

It’s very important that we address this concern. Not just in our country, but all over the world, teen pregnancy is still a big issue. And we already know that when we have teen pregnancies, the victim here is usually the girl because she carries out that pregnancy and her whole future is put on the line. So we must be able to educate our young people and even our teachers. The delivery of education should have that confidence and the ability to address this concern.

•Youth’s exposure to vices

The other item that I wanted to discuss is exposure to vices. Cigarettes and the new hazards, which is vaping, I hope that you can all be on board in raising awareness on the dangers of these products. Vapes are not the safer alternative for young people. There is no safer alternative to young people. It is not correct that I see so many young people thinking that this is safer for them than cigarettes, that is not the case. So I hope you can also be on board in bringing awareness to this. And of course, there is still alcohol and drugs that we need to be conscious of.

•Inclusive learning

And then, of course, there is equal access to those students who have special needs. I know that in a developing country, this really entails costs that are not part of our regular budgeting process. But I hope in due time, we can continue to strengthen our institutions so that we can address the needs of these children with special needs.

•Futures thinking for education

And then very important to me, for those who may not know, I chair a new committee in the Senate, it’s the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. And it is because of my exposure to experts in this field that my knowledge has grown, I continue to be a student in search of more knowledge. But I really embrace the belief that we need to change our system of education. We can’t do it overnight, but every day we must be making steps towards the realization of our goals for these children. And really, there is no one size fits all. The more we can customize the delivery of education for the special talents and (for) the full potential of young learners, the closer we will be to really having a productive next generation.

So that is really the goal, that we are able to shift from the more traditional delivery of education to more understanding of what the special talents are, and the interests and talents these young children are born with, that we develop their skills in communication, collaboration, creativity, and so on and so forth.

•Mental health

And then the awareness on mental health issues. I know we have all become more conscious of it during this time of COVID. These had always been concerns, but there is more acceptance now on the importance of mental health, and not just physical health.

•Sports and fitness

And speaking of physical health, as many of you know, I am an avid sports advocate. I love sports myself, I engage in sports, I encourage sports among everyone of all ages, and I do believe that there is room to increase the role of sports in our curriculum, in our day-to-day life in schools. I know some schools may not have facilities that can provide a venue for all kinds of sports, but in one way or another, there are ways that we can make our children fall in love with physical activities, with being active. Especially in our country, which is gifted with beautiful outdoors. We should be able to do more of that.

So those are just a few of my top-of-mind concerns that I think we can all work with, not necessarily legislation, but really just either implementing existing laws, implementing existing policies, and if there are best practices out there, by all means, share them. We would really like to highlight these best practices in any of the areas that I’ve mentioned, and even more.

So on that note, once again, it’s been a pleasure. I always like working with associations that are very organized, that have their data. Maraming salamat for also making my work easier. So on that note, again thank you for this opportunity to serve our country better. Thank you. #

Education leaders
Senator Pia Cayetano stresses the importance of stronger partnerships in education in her speech before the assembly of private school organizations.
Senate Ways and Means Chair Sen. Pia Cayetano sponsored RA 11635, the law entitling all private schools to the preferential tax rate.

Private schools deserve full support as our partners in education

RA 11635 brings much-needed reprieve to private schools

Statement of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Principal sponsor, RA 11635

Private schools are the government’s partners in education. In this time of pandemic, they need as much assistance as they can get to continue delivering quality education to Filipino learners.

Thus, the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11635 comes as a welcome development for them amid the uncertainties of the times, as rising COVID-19 cases forced us to restrict face-to-face classes to start the New Year.

This timely measure, which I sponsored, amends Section 27(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code, to clearly indicate that all proprietary educational institutions, whether for profit or non profit, shall enjoy the 10% preferential tax rate.

This shall also allow them to be covered by a provision under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which reduced the tax rate of such institutions from 10% to 1% starting July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

With this measure, private schools would be given much-needed reprieve to cope with the continuing challenges caused by the pandemic, starting with their own financial viability and sustainability.

It must be emphasized that this law resulted from continuous dialogue and cooperation among the various stakeholders. We worked with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the private schools, led by the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA), to root out the issues and find a common solution.

We need to continue working with our partners in education for long-term solutions in terms of policy and budget, using strategic foresight and futures thinking to help this sector recover from the pandemic, and beyond.

This is part of our country’s commitment under Sustainable Development Goal No. 4, which is  to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all by year 2030. #

The new law will allow all private schools to be covered by a provision under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which reduced the tax rate of such institutions from 10% to 1% starting July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

Pia: Bill clarifies private schools’ tax rates under CREATE

Senator Pia S. Cayetano welcomed the passage of Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2407 on third and final reading on Monday (September 27), saying that the measure will clarify that all private schools – both ‘non-profit’ and ‘for profit’ – are entitled to the 1 percent preferential tax rate under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, which was enacted last March.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair and sponsor of SBN 2407, Cayetano acknowledged private school institutions as the government’s “partners in delivering quality education for the youth, and in molding them to become changemakers and responsible leaders of the future.”

“This partnership is even more crucial today as our nation struggles with COVID-19, which has disrupted educational systems and the formal learning of our current generation of students,” Cayetano added.

She noted that many private schools are in a critical state, citing data from the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) showing that enrollment among its member-schools has declined to 60 percent this school year, compared to 2020.

It may be recalled that in her sponsorship speech, Cayetano recounted the circumstances that led to the filing and approval of the tax relief measure:

•The passage of CREATE (RA 11534) on March 26, 2021, brought reprieve to proprietary educational institutions by lowering their 10% preferential tax rate to 1% for a period of 3 years, specifically from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023.

•On April 8, 2021,  the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued Revenue Regulation No. (RR) 5-2021, which specifically stated that only ‘non-profit’ proprietary educational institutions can avail of the preferential tax rate under CREATE – basing its policy on previous Supreme Court rulings.

•This then prompted the filing of SBN 2272 by Senator Sonny Angara, which sought to clarify the issue. In the hearing held by the ways and means panel on June 30, 2021, senators asked the Department of Finance (DOF) to suspend implementation of BIR’s RR 5-2021 to avert its impending ill-effects on “for profit” private schools.

•In response, DOF, through a letter to the Senate dated July 21, 2021, gave its commitment to issue the appropriate revenue regulations suspending the relevant provisions of BIR’s RR 5-2021.

•As a result, the BIR issued RR 14-2021, which suspended the inclusion of “for-profit” private schools in the regime of regular income tax.

Cayetano said that it is important to give the public a fair and full picture of the circumstances that led to the filing of Sen. Angara’s SBN 2272, which was substituted by SBN 2407 under her committee report.

She concluded by saying that SBN 2407 will help the Philippines keep track with its goal to ensure quality education, which is part of the government’s commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4.

“This is the power of dialogue at work, involving all stakeholders,” said Cayetano, who also chairs the Senate Committee on the SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.#

Senate session hall
Senator Pia Cayetano: SBN 2407 will clarify that all private schools are entitled to the 1 % preferential tax rate under CREATE

Sponsorship of the bill clarifying the tax rate for all private schools

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chairperson, Committee on Ways and Means

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, today, I rise to sponsor and seek your support for the passage of Senate Bill No. 2407, under Committee Report No. 311, which amends Section 27(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code.

Not long ago, this chamber passed the CREATE Act, a measure that serves as our fulfillment to the overdue reforms in the country’s corporate income tax and fiscal incentives system.

In particular, CREATE provided reprieve to proprietary educational institutions in the country by lowering their 10% preferential tax rate to 1% for a period of 3 years, specifically from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023.

This was made in keeping with our desire to provide support for our education sector, which has been severely burdened by the disruptions caused by the pandemic. This sector continues to need as much assistance and resources as it can get in order to continue delivering quality education to Filipino learners.

Meanwhile, on 8 April 2021,  the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued Revenue Regulation No. 5-2021, which specifically stated that only non-profit proprietary educational institutions can avail of the preferential tax rate under CREATE, basing this on  Supreme Court decisions.

This then prompted the filing of Senate Bill No. 2272 by Senator Sonny Angara, which sought to clarify the issue. During our hearing held on June 30, 2021,  my fellow legislators and I asked the DOF to suspend the implementation of the BIR Revenue Regulation in order to avoid its impending ill effects on the “for profit” private schools.

In response, the DOF, through its letter to the Senate dated 21 July 2021, gave its commitment that in order to ease the burden of taxation among proprietary educational institutions, they shall issue the appropriate revenue regulations suspending the relevant provisions of BIR’s Revenue Regulation No. 5-2021.

As a result, the Bureau issued Revenue Regulation No. 14-2021, which suspended the inclusion of “for-profit” private schools in the regime of regular income tax.

So this Committee Report effectively clarifies that the preferential tax rate of 10% under the NIRC, which was lowered by the CREATE Act to 1% from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023, applies to all private schools – putting an end to the debates as to whether  “for-profit” private schools were covered or not.

Private schools are the government’s partners in education. This partnership is even more crucial today, as our nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted our educational systems and the formal learning of our current generation of students.

Thank you Mr. President. #