Press Release
October 8, 2008

Gordon's HEAP bill heaps up support

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today thanked Sen. Edgardo Angara and leaders of private and public school teachers' organizations for their unequivocal support to his proposal requiring telecommunication companies to remit a portion of their net profits from local text messaging to fund the country's education and health care requirements.

At the resumption of Senate hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 2402, Gordon said more and more people and organizations are now realizing the massive benefits his proposal would bring for the education and health care of the millions of public school children nationwide.

"I am convinced that the support we continuously get from different sectors of our society is more than enough to say that this bill will eventually be passed into law. The people are starting to see the massive benefits that this measure would bring our country," he said.

Those who also expressed support to SB 2402, or the "text-for-change" bill, are Dr. Loureli Siy, president of Private Secondary Schools Administrators Association of the Philippines; Dr. Bonifacio Miguel and Dr. Marino Baytec of the Public School Teachers Association.

The Department of Finance (DoF), represented by Lina Isorena of the National Tax Research Center, an attached agency of the DoF; and the Kiwanis Club International also threw their strong support to Gordon's proposal.

SB 2402, or the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP), seeks to raise the country's investment on education and health care system, thereby improving the measly allocation of P6,354 the national government gives for every public school pupil.

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, the Philippines grossly lags behind other countries in terms of budgetary allocation per student.

Angara, who was present during the hearing of the Senate public corporations committee, expressed utmost support to the bill, stressing that it is one of the best ideas on the improvement of the country's educational system ever put forward.

"In a way, this is really a rescue plan for our youth, in the same manner that there is a rescue plan for the world's financial industry. I think it's more urgent because it's closer to homeóto rescue, to bailout our youth because the deterioration of our educational standards is not only ongoing but it is so rapid and accelerated as well," he said.

Angara is a former President of the University of the Philippines and author of many laws on education reform including the Free High School Act and the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education.

Both Gordon and Angara agree that the proposed measure would not be a burden on the backs of the consumers because it is the telecommunication companies (telcos) which will have to apportion part of their multi-billion revenues from local text messaging to fund the country's educational and health infrastructures.

Gordon said more and more sectors expressed support to the bill because they believe that the dismal condition of the nation's educational and health care system is a matter that needs to be immediately addressed and that the telcos have excess revenues which can help augment government resources for health and education.

"Education is an integral element of a nation. Good education would result to competent students that would become skilled workers and professionals who would bring development and progress to our country," he added.

Education Assistant Secretary Thelma Santos said they are hoping for the immediate enactment of the HEAP bill since they have been lobbying for five years now for the passage of a bill that would rehabilitate the country's educational and health care systems.

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