Press Release
December 19, 2012

PERIOD OF AMENDMENTS - K12 (Senate Bill 3286)
Cayetano introduces amendments to K12 bill; pushes for Mandatory review

I reserved the right to interpellate and ask some questions regarding the bill, however, Sen. Angara has been enlightening and positively pressuring me because of the importance of the said framework in improving our education system.

Mr. President, I have always stated that I believe that President Aquino has done more to education than past presidents. I have also always been stating in public forums that Secretary Luistro, not only knowing very much what he is doing - he has a long history and experience in education--he also has the ear of the president.

In fact, the largest increase in one department, not only in this administration, but I think, at least since I became a councilor in 1992 or in my 20 years in government is the education's budget for next year.

Having said that, I did express some of my concerns regarding the funding requirement and the possible financial burden the measure may entail to the poor, including the possible increase in the drop-out rates if we add two years in senior high school.

I would like to thank the different assistant secretaries and undersecretaries, the different consultants, and this afternoon, the Secretary, in enlightening me in certain matters, but also, and more so, for listening also to the concerns of this representation.

Having said that, I consulted the Secretary regarding this amendment and I hope that the Chairman will also find it as something that will enhance his pet bill.

For my amendments,

(1) Insert a new section, Section 15, on page 5, line 29, to read as follows:

SEC. 15 Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Enhanced Basic Education Program (K-12 Program) - There is hereby created a Joint Oversight Committee to oversee, monitor and evaluate the implementation of this Act. The Oversight Committee shall be composed of five (5) members each from the Senate and the House including the Chairs of the Committees on Education, Arts and Culture and Finance of both Houses. The membership of the Committee for every House shall at least have two (2) opposition or minority members.

(2) Insert a new section 16 on page 5 to read as follows:

Section 16. Mandatory Evaluation and Review-

By 2014 the Department of Education (DepEd) shall conduct a mandatory review and submit a midterm report to Congress as to the status of implementation of the K to 12 Program in terms of closing the following current shortages:

a) Teachers;
b) Classrooms
c) Textbooks;
d) Chairs;
e) Toilets; and
f) Other data that Congress may so request.

The DepEd shall include, among others, in this midterm report the following key metrics of the access to and quality of basic education:

a) Participation rate;
b) Retention rate;
c) National Achievement Test;
d) Completion rate;
e) Teacher Welfare Training and profile;
f) Adequacy of funding requirement; and
g) Other learning facilities including, but not limited to, computer and science laboratories and libraries and library hubs; sports, music and arts.

After Congress's review on this comprehensive mid-term report, Congress shall submit its recommendation for the enhancement and/or recalibration of the program implementation time frame, if necessary.

(3) Insert a new section 17 on page 5 to read as follows Section 17. Commitment to International benchmarks. - The DepEd shall endeavor to increase the per capita spending on education towards the immediate attainment of international benchmarks.

I am proposing the three amendments together because they are interrelated.

The purpose of all of these, Mr. Chair, is to address some concerns that Sen. Trillanes and myself have. We are for the program. We believe that there will be certain adjustments that parents will have to make. But we also believe that not enough resources have been put into this in the past.

We can only have faith that it will be put in, that these funds will be allotted in the future. However, because this is a law, and the law specifies a K-6-4-2 format, this representation has been looking for ways to assure that we did not make or will not make a mistake.

So in consultation with the DepEd officials, a mandatory review and the option for Congress to recalibrate the program - delay its implementation or focus on just one aspect at a time - will give not only the DepEd but also us lawmakers the flexibility to make sure that everyone is ready - CHED, TESDA , teachers, schools, etc. to implement such a monumental program. If this is acceptable to the sponsor, subject to style, I'll move for an omnibus motion.

SEJA (Sen. Angara): These three amendments that I consider major ones are all acceptable for several reasons. Among them, these mechanisms will keep both the Congress and the Executive on their feet because this will be a mechanism for reviewing whether this experiment - a novel one at that - is working. We welcome this kind of mechanism.

I just have one minor recommendation - that the two years stated might be too short. I recommend that we add one more year for the simple reason that technology changes regularly every three years.

ASC: That's acceptable, Mr. President, if the sponsor would accept that we put that the assessment will be done at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Meaning March or April of 2015 the review will be done.

SEJA: Fine. The second reason is that evaluation and assessment of curriculum and teacher-training for competencies is a work in progress and we cannot write it down now. Periodic review is good for all - teachers, students and all stakeholders alike. We welcome this amendment.

Thirdly, I just came back from Mexico on instruction of the President as a representative to the inauguration of the new President of Mexico. The inaugural speech of President Nieto enumerated 13 major proposals ranging from suppression of drugs and violence. But the most applauded proposal was to introduce wide-ranging educational reform.

The second most applauded segment of the speech was his promise to get the telcos established broadband systems across the country so that every school will have access to the internet. Again, that's related to learning and education.

Two weeks before I was with Pia Cayetano and Franklin Drilon and we attended an inter-parliamentary union in Quebec, Canada. The number one topic again is educational reform. What I'm saying now is that what the President and DepEd and everyone here are doing is introducing a major educational reform. This is part of the global effort to promote higher standards of learning and education in this globalized and highly competitive world. We welcome these amendments.

ASC: That's what I meant... Meaning other shortages should be addressed and definitely the access to internet and communication equipment and even access to electricity should be addressed as well. Some schools in this country even have no electricity.

Having said, as I thank the good sponsor, may I request that instead of me asking questions which would take us an hour or two, can I submit in writing some of my observations in studying this measure and my reasons for pushing these amendments so that it will be part of the record.

Thank you.

SEJA: Thank you, Mr. President. We will welcome that too.

ASC: Mr. Chairman, I move for an omnibus motion for the approval of these three amendments?

Presiding Officer: Objections? Hearing none, this motion is approved.

SEJA: Thank you, Mr. President and we thank the minority leader for his amendments.

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