Senator Sonny Angara

Reviving the UPPEJA fellowship for education reform

Sept. 24 this year marks what would have been the 89th birthday of my father, former Senate President Edgardo Angara. It has been five years since he passed away and our entire family still misses him badly. We are constantly reminded of his countless accomplishments and the impact he has made on the lives of Filipinos through the landmark laws that he introduced and the numerous programs that he spearheaded for the benefit of our country and its people.

The heart and soul of education

Almost all of us are aware of the myriad of problems our education system is facing. Filipino students rank among the lowest in the world when it comes to reading comprehension, math and science. There is no question that we are faced with a learning crisis that if left unchecked could result in dire consequences for our learners, our workforce and the economy as a whole. This is the primary reason for the decision of Congress to pass Republic Act 11899, which paved the way for the creation of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2). As one of six commissioners of EDCOM 2, I have been active in the work of the body to conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of the country’s education system, with the end in view of coming up with key reforms that will help address the inherent problems and make it more competitive globally. Over the next three years, we in EDCOM 2 will strive to develop key policies and strategies, including legislation-- building on the gains made during the first EDCOM and addressing the requirements of the current times.

A better and more responsive platform for youth leadership

The election period has started for the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE). The filing of certificates of candidacy began last Aug. 28, 2023 while the campaign period will be from Oct. 19 to 28. Election day will be on Oct. 30. According to the Commission on Elections, a total of 672,432 seats will be up for grabs for the BSKE, including 336,216 for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairpersons and members across the country.

A strategy for inclusive growth and prosperity

The Senate Committee on Finance, of which I am chairman, recently concluded its deliberations on Senate Bill No. 2426 or the proposed Tatak Pinoy (Proudly Filipino) Act which aims to develop a strategy to encourage, support, and promote the production of more diverse, sophisticated, high quality and globally competitive Philippine products and services. This has been our advocacy over many years; in fact, we have been pushing for measures related to Tatak Pinoy including certain provisions under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act particularly on giving preference to locally manufactured PPEs, credit assistance, loan programs for MSMEs, among others.

A big win for health care and military veterans with disabilities

Filipinos who require specialized medical care, particularly the ones who reside in far-flung areas will soon see more facilities that will cater to them with the enactment of Republic Act 11959 or the Regional Specialty Centers Act. As one of the authors of this measure, we thank President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for signing this into law as it would provide many Filipinos with access to critical care at or near where they reside. Bringing free or affordable health care to our people is of utmost importance if we consider the alternative, which is to skip treatment altogether.