Group calls out Duterte, Briones for ‘neglecting’ PH education system

A federation of teachers on Saturday, Oct. 3, called out President Duterte and Education Secretary Leonor Briones for “neglecting” the needs in the education system as the country opens a new school year next week.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in a virtual press conference, is demanding for accountability for the “unmet school opening requisites” two days before classes resume on Monday, Oct. 5

Along with other education stakeholders, the group is calling for accountability from the Duterte government for “delaying and still failing to ensure” the delivery of safe, accessible, and quality education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve repeatedly heard Secretary Briones give thanks to the President over his claimed ‘support’ for blended learning. Yet, after two postponements, President Duterte still has nothing to show beyond lip service,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

After two class opening deferments, the group faults the Duterte administration for abandoning its mandate to guarantee the rights and welfare of those in the education sector.

“This government remains to be unresponsive to the people’s just and urgent demands in relation to school opening at the height of the health and socio-economic crisis,” Basilio said. “This is a huge disservice to the Filipino people and a violation of the youth’s fundamental right to education, with the President as the main culprit while Sec. Briones was complicit to these injustices,” he added.

ACT alleged that the Duterte government has failed to provide aid to the education sector since it was hit by the pandemic other than the “clearly meager” P4 billion allocation from the “Bayanihan to Recover as One” Act or BARO supposedly for the implementation of blended learning.

“There’s no question about the President’s absolute lack of regard education,” Basilio said. “This has been evident from years of poor budget allocation under his rule to the complete abandonment of this basic social service as it shifted to remote learning,” he added.

ACT also slammed Briones, who should have “championed” the interests of the sector, for opting to “fawn over the President at the expense of our welfare and rights.”

Due to lack of needed funds, ACT cited how teachers, as a result, are looking for ways to prepare and reproduce modules and other learning materials. On top of this, there is inadequacy of modules and other materials for learners, and the lack of comprehensive health measures in place. 

“We take to heart our duty to serve the interests of the youth and of the nation,” Basilio said. “Hence, we will not take this neglect and infringement on our basic rights sitting down.”