Pia: PH vision should ensure care for people’s eyesight

To fulfill the vision of a sustainable future for all Filipinos, the government should work on ensuring quality and accessible eye care services for citizens that will help them achieve brighter and healthier lives.

 

Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano in light of the celebration of World Sight Day (October 10). Held every second Thursday of October, the event seeks to draw global attention to blindness and vision impairment with the goal of preventing them.

 

A known health advocate, Cayetano stressed the need to protect the eyesight of all Filipinos – from young children to senior citizens. She added that poor vision and avoidable blindness remain an underreported public health issue in the country.

 

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) in 2017 showed that more than two million people nationwide were blind or suffering from poor vision, with an estimated 332,150 Filipinos bilaterally blind, and 2.179 million with bilateral low vision.

 

The senator, for her part, stressed that the passage of a new law establishing a national vision screening program for kindergarten pupils could help turn the situation around.

 

It was Cayetano who authored and sponsored Republic Act 11358, or the ‘National Vision Screening Act,’ which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year.

 

The new law seeks to establish a National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) for young pupils under the Department of Education (DepEd).

 

The senator said early detection of eye problems is crucial in ensuring immediate intervention and proper treatment for children suffering from early vision impairments.

 

“Ensuring the full well-being of our children is the first step to enable them to reach their full potential and grow up as our partners in attaining sustainable growth and development,”  she said.

 

Moreover, the law also paves the way for the fulfillment of our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), added Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.

 

Goal 3 of the United Nations’ SDGs calls on nations to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages. This includes the provision of essential services based on tracer interventions like vision screening.

 

In 2016, Cayetano partnered with the Taguig city government and the University of the Philippines-Manila Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI) to spearhead a pilot vision screening test for kindergarten pupils in the city.

 

150 pupils aged five to six underwent a simple vision-screening test, about 15 of whom were found to have vision problems, and in turn, given immediate and proper treatment. #

Pia vows to increase funding for ‘Last Mile’ Schools

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has vowed to increase from P1.5 billion to P15 billion the funding allocation for the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Last Mile Schools (LMS) Program in next year’s proposed P4.1-trillion national government budget. 

Cayetano, the Senate Finance Committee vice chair, said the tenfold increase will benefit 830 Last Mile Schools located in far-flung and hinterland communities across the country.

“I have personally visited some of these schools whenever I would hike or bike to upland communities, particularly in the Cordillera Administrative Region,” she shared. 

A mountain biker and hiking enthusiast, Cayetano regularly visits upland schools in the north to bring learning materials and conduct fitness and football clinics for students. 

She said that LMS usually have multi-grade level classrooms due to the limited number of classrooms accommodating the communities’ entire student population from different grade levels. 

“Multi-grade level classrooms are actually an acceptable education model. My children grew up in this kind of setting. What is important is that the teachers are well-trained to handle multi-grade level classrooms and that the class sizes remain small,” Cayetano explained.

She said the core of DepEd’s LMS Program is ensuring that the schools’ classrooms are made of sturdy material and equipped with the proper learning facilities, including computers that have access to programs complementing the classroom teaching, and electricity. 

The DepEd had originally asked for a P21.52 billion budget for its LMS program for next year, but only P1.5 billion was approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), based on the 2020 National Expenditure Program. 

A memorandum issued by the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration last August, however, directed the DBM to include and prioritize the “Last Mile Schools Fund” as a new line item under DepEd’s budget in the 2020 NEP.

“We should not forget about the Filipino families in far-flung areas who also want the best future for their children,” she stressed. “This is one of my ways to ensure that in our shared goal of fostering growth through education, no Filipino child will get left behind.”

“I also hope more senators would be willing to go the extra mile to help our last mile schools, and by actively supporting tax reforms, whose proceeds will help fund social services and our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” added Cayetano, who also chairs the Senate Committees on Ways and Means and on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. 

As of September 1, there are about 9,225 schools identified as LMS, with CAR (1,223), Western Visayas (824) and Eastern Visayas (1,076) having the most number – excluding the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

According to DepEd, most LMS are more than an hour away from the town center, in places with problems in peace and order, and which private contractors, suppliers and service providers find difficult to access. 

LMS have multi-grade level classes, with less than five teachers, and a student population of less than 100, more than 75% of which are usually indigenous people. They have very limited facilities, which had never been repaired in the last four years. #


Senator Pia S. Cayetano visits students at Lamut Elementary School in La Trinidad, Benguet during her annual trek to far-flung communities in the province. (2014)


Senator Pia S. Cayetano is joined by the UP Women’s Football Team (UPWFT) during her annual trek to far-flung communities in Benguet. In 2018, the senator and the student-athletes handed out books, toys, and other learning materials to students studying at the Lusod Community School in Itogon, Benguet.

Raising teachers’ pay to help affirm dignity of teaching

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said raising the compensation of teachers is the best affirmation of government’s high regard for the country’s educators and their contributions to nation-building. 

The senator issued the statement in time for National Teachers’ Day, which is being observed on October 5 (Saturday).

A staunch education advocate, Cayetano authored Senate Bill No. 70, or the ‘Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education Act.’

The measure proposes a salary increase of P10,000 per month for public school teachers, locally-funded teachers, and non-teaching personnel of the Department of Education (DepEd).

The salary hike shall be granted over three years in three tranches, starting with a P4,000 monthly pay hike on the first year, an additional P3,000 per month on the second year, and a final increment of P3,000 per month on the third year.

The bill is currently being deliberated with similar measures by a technical working group under the Senate Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation.

“Raising the compensation of teachers affirms the dignity of the teaching profession. This will not only improve their lives, but also inspire them to further improve,” she explained.

 

“We have so many hardworking teachers who deserve more support. Also, we can still do better to make the teaching profession more attractive to the best and brightest,” she stressed.

 

“I want to be able to leave that kind of legacy to our children – that they can go to any school in the Philippines, and get the best education possible because they will be mentored by intelligent and dedicated teachers,” she added.

 

Cayetano pointed out that empowering teachers to successfully fulfill their role in society is part of the country’s commitments to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Goal 4 of the SDGs particularly states that by 2030, the supply of qualified teachers in the country should have substantially increased.

   

Apart from the salary adjustment, Cayetano’s bill seeks to grant public school teachers the following benefits: Medical allowance, a yearly bonus based on the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670), and additional compensation from local school board funds.

The former chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture, Cayetano has championed the passage of landmark laws that enhanced public education in the country, including the National Teacher’s Day Act (RA 10743), Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education or UniFAST Act (RA 10687), Open High School System Act (RA 10665), Open Distance Learning Act (RA 10650), Iskolar ng Bayan Act (RA 10648), and Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647).#

Senator Pia Cayetano: “We have so many hardworking teachers who deserve more support.”

Pia: Let’s build a nation of winners!

Co-sponsorship speech of Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Senate Bill No. 1086, establishing a Philippine High School for Sports

Mr. President,

This is a happy day for me because I drafted and filed this bill 9 years ago. I was so much younger then and ran so much faster. But so did the presiding officer. 

It is no secret that I am a believer in sports, and I believe that sports can change lives. I am proud to be a member of a Senate where majority of the members include sports in their lives:

Needless to say, Sen. Manny Pacquaio is considered as one of the greatest professional boxers of all time.

Senator Manny Pacquiao is the only boxer in history to win world titles in eight different weight divisions.

The Senate President, Philippine National Team in bowling, garnered gold several times, and currently is a golf enthusiast who still continues to win tournaments.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III was a 7-time member of the Philippine bowling team. He competed twice in the World Cup and was an international gold medalist in ten pin bowling.

Our Majority Floor Leader, Migz, National Champion and 1989 World Champion. I saw the video and I wish we could play it. But please interpellate me later on so I can play that World Championship… the winning moves. I think a few kilos lighter. 

Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri was a world Arnis champion.

And then we have our “never say die” basketball players. Sen. Joel Villanueva, a UST Growling Tigers UAAP champion 1994-1995 and Philippine national team.

Senator Joel Villanueva played for the UST Growling Tigers champion team and the Phllippine national basketball team.

And then Senator Sonny Angara, who is part of the Senate Defenders – that is the official name of our basketball team. 

Senator Sonny Angara plays for the Senate Defenders. The team actively competes in inter-government agency basketball tournaments, such as the UNTV Cup.

Sen. Bong Go, who brings serious professionalism to the games that he plays with the likes of my brother. He was part of the roster of the Muntinlupa Cagers in the Maharlika Basketball League, a pro league started by Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

A known supporter of sports in Davao City and national athletes, Senator Bong Go was part of the Muntinlupa Cagers’ roster in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, my batch mate in UP, we were both UP volleyball Maroons. And he was also a track and field runner – a track runner. 

Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan was a track athlete and volleyball player for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.

Next is Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, I approached him to ask for a picture. That is actually not his main sport but that is his current sport. Correct? Am I correct? But his sport as a young athlete included soccer, swimming, and taekwondo. 

Young Senator Ralph Recto played football, swimming and taekwondo. His current sport: Boxing.

So again, please interpellate me so that I can put the pictures – the appropriate pictures of Sen. Recto while I am defending this bill. 

And then our main sponsor, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian. That was the… I actually failed to get the full description, but the picture speaks for itself. 

The principal sponsor of SBN 1086, Senator Win Gatchalian, played basketball in high school at Grace Christian School and in college at Boston University.

And yours truly, a UP Maroon and National Team Player for Volleyball as well.

Senator Pia Cayetano was part of the last UP Lady Maroons squad to win a UAAP championship. She also played for the Philippine National Women’s Volleyball Team.

Anyway, so now that I have put you all in a better mood, the sad reality we face. Mr. President, is that many of our young athletes who show talent are usually forced to choose between an education and sports. That window where they can shine as an athlete is not open for a long time. They must take advantage of that moment in time. And if they miss it, the moment is gone. 

Because of that, some choose to give up schooling, others give up their sports.  Those who give up schooling take a huge risk. Betting on sports alone for your future is a shot in the dark.  Not everyone gets to be a Manny Pacquiao. After their moment in the lime light, without an education, they have little to fall back on. 

I’d like to share another story, which is the story of many athletes today. One of my lawyers, Joei Gana-Teves – she made it to the Philippine volleyball youth team. But her teacher did not believe in sports and considered her absent every time she attended practices and threatened to fail her when she had to leave for one week to participate in the Asian youth games.

She then made a choice to go to the games and was very much impressed but at the same time saddened that other countries like Singapore and Malaysia, had a national sports high school where they were able to study and do the sport they love at the same time. 

But this need not happen, Mr. President.

In countries that take sports seriously, they start at a young age. Those who show talent are given the chance to train with the best coaches and with equally talented and driven athletes. They are able to do that because they have sports centers all over the country and they have sports schools – high schools and universities. National sports schools and universities.

I had the privilege of visiting some of these sports high schools in Germany and Spain. The young athletes were able to focus on their sport but at the same time continue their studies.

Fast forward, and obviously, Senator Bong Go and I have the same source. We both have visited New Clark City. This was very early in 2018, when we did some groundbreaking. This is the initial stages of the construction. 

Construction of New Clark City Athletics Stadium started in 2018.

Fast forward, not even two years later. This is the New Clark City today….

The New Clark City Athletic Stadium. (September 6, 2019)

This aerial photo was actually taken from Gretchen Ho. I borrowed that from her. If you look at the main circle, that is the stadium, and the track in the middle is the main track. You will wonder, why is there another track on the upper right side. Well that is the practice track, the warm up track. That is required to have that Class 1 certification. 

And, if you look at the next picture I am about to show, so this is the picture of the actual track and stadium, the next picture. Okay, the one on the right is an actual requirement also to get that Class 1 certification. It is an 80-meter indoor track where you warm up just before your event is called. So you have those two warm up tracks in addition to the main track. That is air-conditioned by the way. 

I happened to visit a few weeks ago, and those are national track athletes that I was running with. 

This is the swimming pool. Take note, that is an 8-lane, 50-meter pool. But that is just the warm up pool. The main pool is 10 lanes and has a bigger capacity. And then on the right side is the diving pool. So together, this is also a world-class certified aqua center, the only one in the country. 

This is the dormitories, the same photo that Sen. Go showed you. We actually have the national triathlon team and the national track and field team living in these quarters now. And pretty soon, this will be the home of the Southeast Asian Games athletes who will come here to participate in December. 

New Clark City is a sustainable city that will house our athletes for the SEA Games. And this is also where this sports school will be built.  

It is envisioned that the students will have access to vocational, sports, and academic tracks so that each of them can still fulfill their own dreams.

Mr. President, Senate Bill 506, which I filed, is considered in this Committee Report. However, my version, Mr. President, specifically has a provision that says that the track will not be limited to sports. Because there are athletes who dream to be other things, to be more than athletes. They can be an athlete and they can have other professions as well. 

Just because I am only familiar with the UP graduates, I use them as an example. Mr. President, UP has produced, among others, two summa cum laude graduates, one with a BS in Math, summa cum laude, and another one with a BS in Sports Science who went on and is currently in her third year in med school with PGH UP College of Manila. They did this while being in the varsity of UP. The BS Math major was a Judo player, and the other one was a volleyball player. 

Assuming that there was a high school for sports when they were younger, it would have been really sad if we limited them to a sports program, because clearly, they had the ability and the desire to do something else as well. 

And that is why we are also pushing for programs beyond sports to be offered for Senior High here. Mr. President, I call on your support dear colleagues. Let us help make these individual dreams come true and at the same time build a nation of winners.

Thank you. #

Senator Pia Cayetano delivers her co-sponsorship speech of the bill seeking to establish a Philippine High School for Sports. She showed throwback photos of senators competing in their favorite/chosen sports – to the delight of her colleagues.

Basic education budget hurdles Senate panel

The Senate Finance Committee has approved on Thursday the proposed P551.72-billion budget for the basic education sector for 2020, following the hearing of Subcommittee ‘D’ led by Senator Pia S. Cayetano, the panel’s vice chairperson. 

The budget for the Department of Education (DepEd) and its attached agencies, which increased by 3.79% from 2019’s P531.57-billion budget, will now move to the plenary for deliberations. 

The attached agencies of DepEd include the Philippine High School for the Arts, National Council for Children’s Television, National Book Development Board, National Museum, and Early Childhood Care and Development Council.    

“We are happy to support your budget. I also thank DepEd for acknowledging my observation to create an office on innovation and futures thinking for education,” said Cayetano, who also chairs the newly created Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking. 

During the budget hearing, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones showed support for the proposal to create a separate committee on innovation and futures thinking in order to confront new trends in the sector.

Cayetano for her part expressed hope that, after receiving the lion’s share of the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, the agency would be able to address concerns involving the country’s public education system.

Among which is the need to improve the teacher-to-student ratio in public schools in the country, by hiring more teachers and adopting learning innovations to oversee the development of students. 

“To address the issue of classroom sizes and the lack of learning resources, I want to start the discussion on blended learning,” the senator said, referring to the education style where students are taught through traditional face-to-face teaching, as well as via electronic and online media.

“I am a proponent of multilevel classrooms. I am also a proponent of personalized education… I have yet to go to a public school where the materials available are overflowing,” she added.

The senator then encouraged DepEd to ensure the full delivery of services under its DepEd Computerization Program (DCP), which gives both public school teachers and students access to multimedia tools and technologies to promote digital literacy.

“There are many ways to teach a child. We can make it more exciting,” Cayetano said, adding that technology-based blended learning could enable teachers to attend to the needs of each child in their class. 

Meanwhile, the senator also urged the agency to step up in improving the quality of the country’s public educators.   

She cited Finland as a model for education reforms, noting that all Finnish teachers have master’s degrees. 

“We should be looking at similar targets. We could [allot] a fund and divide it geographically to provide Filipino teachers with scholarships,” Cayetano suggested.

“What I recommend is to have in-house training, as well as scholarships for international training. So that in the coming years, we will have more quality teachers,” she added. 

Finally, the senator pushed anew for the improvement of Filipino youths’ English proficiency to make them more job-ready and globally competitive. 

“I want to make sure we have a strategic program on [English proficiency] because [this is] our edge among other countries. English competence should not be set aside just because we are teaching [children]  in the mother tongue,”  Cayetano stressed. #

Senator Cayetano expressed hope that, after receiving the lion’s share of the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, the agency would be able to address urgent concerns involving the country’s public education system.

Nurture future heroes among our youth – Pia

“Let us honor the great men and women who fought for our nation’s freedom by nurturing future heroes among the ranks of our youth.”

Senator Pia S. Cayetano shared this message to mark this year’s National Heroes’ Day, which is celebrated on Monday, August 26th.

“Today, we remember the bravery and sacrifices made by our heroes, including prominent figures who led the struggle for independence, and those who remain unnamed and undocumented in history books,” the senator said.

“May this day remind us of the importance of bridging our current generation of young Filipinos  to our rich and proud past, and cultivating in them love and service to country, the same values which our national heroes embraced and stood up for,” she added. 

Cayetano said she fully supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s call in his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) for Congress to pass a law that shall “invigorate nationalism and patriotism among young Filipinos and further promote their role in nation-building.”  

To this end, the senator is pushing for Senate Bill No. 925 or the “Youth Patriotism and Bayanihan Act,” which seeks to establish holistic programs in basic education in lieu of proposals to make the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program mandatory for students.

The bill introduces a fundamental program and a specialized program, both seeking to develop the values of discipline, patriotism, nationalism, and a strong sense of bayanihan among Grades 1 to 12 students.  

The fundamental program for Grades 1 to 12 students shall have the following components: Physical Fitness, Arts and Cultural Heritage, Community Outreach, Basic Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and Basic Security.

Meanwhile, the specialized program for senior high students shall have advanced and dedicated training to develop skills and knowledge in security, survival, and public service through the following components: Internal Security and Peace and Order, Dedicated Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Advanced Security, and Career Development.

Cayetano recognized that military training is vital, but is not the only means to cultivate patriotism and discipline among students. She said a citizenry well-trained in various disciplines like the sciences, medicine, sports, the arts, business, and technical skills, among others, is the best preparation for any external or internal threats to the country’s security and development. 

“The more holistic way to cultivate our youth’s sense of nationalism and patriotism is by training them early on to study and respond to threats to our sustainability, and by being responsible leaders in their respective fields,” she noted.

“This way, we can ensure that future generations of Filipinos could turn out to be ‘heroes’ – nation-builders who will excel in their chosen profession or field, and contribute to our country’s sustainable growth, stability, and security,” she concluded. #

Senator Pia Cayetano joins youth leaders at the Taguig City Youth Con 2019, an initiative under the leadership of Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano aimed to develop skills and knowledge of the city’s next generation of leaders.
Youth Con 2019 in Taguig City gathered inspirational speakers and experts from different fields to interact with the city’s youth leaders

Alternative measure to mandatory ROTC filed

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for the establishment of a comprehensive and holistic policy that would strengthen the sense of patriotism and nationalism among Filipino students. 

The senator filed Senate Bill No. 925 or the ‘Youth Patriotism and Bayanihan Act,’ which is an alternative to the proposal to revive the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program for senior high school students.  

At the Senate Committee on Basic Education’s public hearing on Thursday (August 22), Cayetano stressed that instilling love for country among young Filipinos should start as early as their formative years. 

“Do the core values of nationalism and patriotism only begin at senior high? That’s the question I pose. This is not just a concept that should be focused on senior high,” she said.

“I just want to put my point out there, that there are different ways to develop nationalism and there are different components [that should be considered],” she added.

Earlier this week, the senator filed SB 925, which seeks to institutionalize a two-tiered program to strengthen the values of discipline, patriotism, and nationalism of students from Grades 1 to 12. 

The first tier is the introduction of a Fundamental Program in the curricula of Grades 1 to 12 in all public and private educational institutions in the country. The components of which shall include Physical Fitness, Arts and Cultural Heritage, Community Outreach, Basic Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and Basic Security. 

The second tier is the establishment of a Specialized Program for Senior High School students in public and private educational institutions. This seeks to provide advanced and dedicated training for the development of the students’ skills on security, survival, and public service.

The Specialized Program shall have the following components: Internal Security and Peace and Order, Dedicated Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Advanced Security, and Career Development.

Cayetano said her measure particularly promotes the importance of “soft security,”  which pertains to the ability of citizens to respond to threats to the country’s sustainability through the efficient management of resources and delivery of services.

In her bill, the senator distinguished ‘soft’ from ‘hard’ security, which refers to the country’s ability to respond to security threats through the use of military force.

“That’s why my bill includes more components [other than military-based training] because I’d like to think that there is not just one track… We want to be sure that the programs [we will establish] would be suited to the skills that we want our youth to develop,” she said. 

Furthermore, Cayetano said if the purpose of the mandatory ROTC is to train the youth in helping protect the country from external threats, there are many other ways to do so.

“If we are preparing for external invasions… should not the preparation be in terms of our students being the best in engineering, psychology, sociology, history, medical care, and the like?” she asked.

“My point is, we need to strategize where our human resources are needed. And it is essential for the Filipino youth to contribute to the preservation and sustainability of our country’s available resources,” she concluded.  #

Senator Pia Cayetano: “If we are preparing for external invasions, should not the preparation be in terms of our students being the best in engineering, psychology, sociology, history, medical care, and the like?”

Bill seeking to produce globally competitive graduates pushed

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for the establishment of a common national policy on education that will train Filipino students to be job-ready and globally competitive.

In filing Senate Bill No. 62 or the ‘Education Roadmap Act,’ Cayetano aims to institutionalize an education roadmap that incorporates the needed skills and competencies that industries constantly look for in new graduates.

The senator said her proposal seeks to guarantee gainful employment for Filipino students after graduation by addressing current ‘overlapping and confusing education policies.’ Furthermore, the measure aims to make the Philippines at par with its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of producing a competitive workforce. 

Under SBN 62, an Education Roadmap National Coordinating Council shall be created to design, formulate, and monitor implementation of the educational roadmap. 

The council shall focus on five key components, namely, Global Languages, Graduate Competencies, Teacher Competencies, Capacity Building for Centers of Excellence, and School-to-Work Transition.

Furthermore, the national policy on global languages shall be aligned with the Common Framework of Reference for Languages to warrant national and global competitiveness, especially in the areas of education and labor. 

“The roadmap incorporates a careful review of existing curricula so that the skills required by local and international industries from new graduates are integrated in our academic programs,” the senator explained. 

“This roadmap also aims to strengthen capacity building for teachers so that they could properly equip their students with relevant skills and competencies,” she added. 

The bill includes a policy for the seamless progression of students from basic education to higher education and, eventually, to employment. This involves strengthening and expanding internship, apprenticeship, and dual-training programs for students, as well as dynamic collaboration among the government, academe, and industry.

“To ensure that our students’ training are aligned with the requirements of their future employers, industry sector representatives shall be consulted or tapped in developing and implementing the educational roadmap,” Cayetano noted.

“Our education program must constantly keep up with the changing and growing needs of industries. We must also secure lifelong learning opportunities for our youth so that they will be globally competitive and job-ready upon graduation,” the senator said.

A staunch advocate of youth empowerment in Congress, Cayetano has championed several measures to improve the quality and accessibility of education. Among her latest proposals is the  Build, Build, Build for Education Bill which lays down a five-year plan to accelerate infrastructure development in Philippine state universities and colleges (SUCs). #

Senator Pia Cayetano has championed several measures seeking to make quality education accessible to the Filipino youth. (file photo)

New law strengthening National Museum hailed

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has welcomed the signing of the National Museum of the Philippines Act, saying the new law will help bridge generations of young Filipinos to our country’s past to better appreciate our rich history and heritage.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently signed Republic Act No. 11333, which designates the National Museum as the primary institution to manage and develop museums and collections of national importance across the country.

The measure’s principal author in the 17th Congress, Cayetano said preserving heritage strengthens our collective sense of history as a people, which is crucial in charting our nation’s future.

“With the passage of this act, we now have a stronger national policy to protect our heritage. This will help reinforce our sense of nationalism, especially among the youth, and boost sectors like education and tourism, which will provide more opportunities for our people,” she emphasized. 

The measure authorizes the National Museum of the Philippines to retain the entirety of its income from all sources of its operations nationwide and overseas. It also exempts it from applicable taxes, duties, fees, and charges from donations.

According to the senator, this provision would enable the agency to better fulfill its mandate to develop the National Museum Complex in Manila, central museums, regional museums, and other facilities it manages. This will also allow the institution to make its services more accessible to the people – and not intended for profit. 

“This law will allow the public free admission to public museums and national historical shrines and landmarks,” the senator said, adding that “it is always heartening to see students, barkadas, and families coming in droves to visit our public museums as a fun, learning experience.”

A heritage advocate, Cayetano has championed several measures in Congress seeking to strengthen the government’s efforts to protect the country’s endangered historical landmarks. 

She was a member of the National Museum Board of Trustees from 2013 to 2016, and a former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture during the 16th Congress.

During this time, she led the inquiry into the controversial construction of a high-rise condominium building, which marred the sightline of the historic Rizal Monument at Luneta Park.#

Highlights of the National Museum of the Philippines Act (Republic Act 11333) authored by Senator Pia S. Cayetano.

Pia files inclusive education bill for kids with special needs

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is affirming her commitment to work for the welfare of children with special needs and afford them the right to accessible quality education.

 The senator has filed the ‘Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act’ (Senate Bill No. 69) which seeks to establish inclusive learning resource centers for children and youth with special needs (CYSNs) in all public school divisions in the country.

“Children with disabilities have the same rights as any other child. They deserve access to a kind of education system where their special needs are attended to,” said Cayetano, principal author of RA 10070, which mandates the creation of Persons with Disability Office (PDAO) in every province, city, and municipality.

“They deserve to learn in an environment with compassion and understanding, and where they can grow as productive members of the community,” she added.

The proposed measure was first conceptualized by Cayetano, along with special education stakeholders, when she chaired the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture back in the 16th Congress. 

Citing records from the Department of Education (DepEd), Cayetano said majority of the country’s 5.5 million CYSNs have limited access to public education due to lack of accessibility features in schools, among other attitudinal and environmental factors.

“This bill aims to address and remove all these  barriers in our education system to allow CYSNs to participate in the regular school system,” the senator explained. 

Under SBN 69, the policy of inclusion shall be instituted in all public schools to provide CYSNs with equitable opportunities to educational services. Furthermore, the bill seeks to empower parents and family members of CYSNs with proper information and training.

All public school divisions of the DepED shall likewise establish an Inclusive Education Learning Resource Center that shall assist in promoting inclusive education to enable regular schools to handle the needs of CYSNs effectively.

The bill also proposes the formation of an Inter-Agency Coordinating Council on Inclusive Education (IACCIE), which is tasked to integrate and harmonize policies with regard to inclusive education.

Lastly, SBN 69 mandates the establishment of Child Development Centers (CDCs) near all schools or within existing Inclusive Education Learning Resource Centers. The CDCs will be specially designed for preschool children and their parents, where early identification of disabilities or special needs and intervention programs can be administered.#

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is greeted with a waving of hands by hearing impaired youth during a sports clinic for the differently abled in Taguig City earlier this year.
“This bill aims to address and remove all barriers to allow CYSNs (Children and Youth with Special Needs) to participate in the regular school system.”