Gifts of insight




Senator Sonny Angara Senator Sonny Angara

Insight is very much an expanded word today, as it is used almost interchangeably with observations and, sometimes, data. But at the very heart of it is the idea of a clear and deep understanding of complicated situations or issues. It is not simply an observation. Insight is about new ways of viewing situations, that can help us to revise and challenge our way of doing things. Hopefully, insights can lead to practical solutions. And that is why in this time of endings and beginnings, we should welcome—and look back on—several gifts of insight as we move on to 2020.

One such gift are the 2018 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA. These showed in no unclear terms that our educational system needs improvement. 80% of Filipino students who were tested had low scores in reading, lacking skills for understanding written texts. They also need to be encouraged to actually believe in themselves. At least 60% of Filipino students surveyed agreed that their intelligence could not be changed much, and thus were not likely to invest in a better education for success in the future.

Thankfully, we now have the KITE focus, where the Department of Education will review and update the K-12 curriculum with the aim of improving the system, updating the skill sets of teachers, and engaging stakeholders for support and collaboration.

We, together with Senators Drilon, Gatchalian, Poe and Villanueva, also filed a Senate Resolution to create the EDCOM 2, the bicameral Congressional Oversight Committee on Education, which will study the educational systems in the country, and come out with a report outlining short- and long-term policy and program recommendations.

Another gift of insight arises from the various disasters that have visited our country this past year—especially the numerous earthquakes that have shaken parts of Mindanao very recently.  The destruction they have caused only underscores the urgency of creating a Department of Disaster Resilience, which will head disaster management efforts, as well as recommend financial action that can help communities in the aftermath of disasters.

In the realm of sports, much insight could also be gleaned from our recent overwhelming performance in the past SEA games. Clearly, we are not lacking in talent and determination. But is the environment in place to help our athletes perform just as overwhelmingly at the Olympic stage?  It’s obvious that we can definitely lend them more support.

In general, we do need more facilities and educational systems geared towards sports development. And that’s why we’ve advocated heavily for the establishment of a world-class Philippine Sports Training Center (PSTC), which has been enacted into law already, as well as a Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS). The PHSS will provide not only the same quality education for high school level, but it will also have special emphasis in athletic skills, with subjects for physical education and sports development. We thank President Duterte for backing the creation of a national academy for sports for high school students.

A fourth gift of insight to consider is associated with the ghost dialysis treatment scam, where dialysis centers make fraudulent claims to Philhealth, taking away much-needed funds from poor and sick people.

We may have enacted earlier this year the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Act, which automatically puts everyone in the country under Philhealth coverage, and thereby gives them entitlements to free preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative health services. But the fact that the country’s main health insurance corporation can easily be defrauded of billions of pesos in fake dialysis claims only highlights that deeper reforms are still needed even with the enactment of a landmark legislation such as the UHC law.

These are only some of the many gifts of insight that we should “unwrap” in the coming year.  Doing so will enable us to map out and chart an action plan for 2020—all under the belief we are going ever onwards to a better future for the Philippines. Only if we so believe, can we do what has to be done.

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Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years—9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 6 as Senator. He has authored and sponsored more than 200 laws.  He recently won another term in the Senate.