Press Release
October 3, 2008

RP's education and health needs 'bailout' plan - Gordon

The Philippines needs a comprehensive bailout package to resolve its ballooning shortages in education and health care if it wants to ably compete with the rest of the world, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today said.

Gordon said it is time to act in a way that would improve the pitiful situation of the public school and health care systems than be mired again in pointless debate that has failed to offer concrete solutions to address the decades-old problems in education.

"The Filipino people are bitter, angry and frustrated. They have long been 'lied' to, but their lives have not improved but rather have continually declined. It is time we offer concrete solutions than empty promises and rhetorics to our people," he said.

"The time has come to have the courage to stand up against the rich and powerful goliaths. We need to bail out the education and health care of our youth. It is our common responsibility as a nation and as a people. Let us therefore invest in what really matters," he added.

The country's investment on education and health lags behind other countries with a measly allocation of P6,354 per student as compared to Thailand's budget per student at P47,700; Malaysia at P56,846; United States at P123,200; and Japan at P293,440.

An estimated 18 billion is needed to resolve the lingering backlogs of 9,754 classrooms; 4,121,009 school seats; 63,178,377 textbooks; 39,762 teachers and an additional 8,499 principals nationwide.

Gordon, author of Senate Bill (SB) 2402, also known as "text-for-change" bill, said he believes that the government is not short in coming up with innovative ways by which to fund a bailout package for education and health care.

"Where do we source out the funds for this bailout? We have been proposing to source them from a portion of the profits from the two million local text messages sent daily by the more than 60 million mobile phone subscribers. That's more than enough," he said.

According to him, it is unfair just to lament over the deteriorating state of the country's educational and health care system without coupling it with their "response-ability" to help the government in addressing the problems the nation is confronted with.

Given the multi-billion revenues of mobile service providers from text messaging, a free value-added service, Gordon said the educational system can cope with the demands of the times if only the telecommunication companies (telcos) would yield to the provisions of the measure.

"The problem is that the telcos do not want to pay for this bailout. They only want the Filipino people to pay for it," he said sarcastically, even as he remained firm that his measure does not intend to pass on an additional tax burden on the consumers.

Once passed into law, "text-for-change" bill would generate P73 billion from a portion of telcos' multi-billion net profits from local text messaging that would be set aside to a special fund to bankroll the country's requirements in education and health care.

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