Press Release
July 3, 2013


True to his word, Senator Edgardo "Sonny" Angara today, in the start of his term of office, has filed his first five Senate bills, all focused on broadening the access to and improving the quality of Philippine education.

During the campaign for the May polls, the newly elected senator vowed to push for policies and measures that aim to provide opportunities and empower people, primarily through access to quality education and employment generation.

Thus, Angara authored Senate Bill 58 or the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Higher and Technical Education (UNIFAST) Act which seeks to strengthen, harmonize and refocus the existing student financial assistance programs to make them more targeted to the poor, giving priority to students whose families are beneficiaries of the government's Conditional Cash Transfer Program.

"Despite the government's mandate to make education accessible to all Filipinos, the reality is that many impoverished Filipino families remain unable to send their children to school and afford them a proper college education," said Angara.

"Hence, the thrust now of the government is to not only improve the capacity of the government to assist students from low-income families in the completion of their education, but more importantly, to improve its efficiency and effectiveness and to ensure its equitable distribution and sustainability," he added.

The senator has also filed S.B. 59 or the Bill of Rights for New Graduates which would assist each new graduate with employment and business opportunities.

"With their increased chances of immediate employment, these new graduates are assured that their hard work in school will pay off with generous rewards," Angara said.

The co-author of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act likewise proposed S.B. 60--a measure granting discounts to underprivileged post-secondary and tertiary students on basic services, such as food, medicine and transportation, and on educational expenses, such as tuition, miscellaneous and other school fees, including books and school supplies.

"Considering that we now have a law giving discounts to senior citizens, it is high time that we consider the plight of our underprivileged students who are our nation's future," he said.

Angara, who had previously helped raise the salary of public school teachers in 2008 through Joint Resolution 4 or the Salary Standardization Law III, is once again pushing for the upgrade of the minimum salary grade level of teachers from SG 11 to 19 through S.B. 61.

"With this increase in salaries, more qualified and competent educators will be attracted to teach in public schools. Definitely, this will greatly help motivate our teachers to strive for excellence in their field and thus, improve the quality of education in the public school system," he said.

The former three-termer congressman also filed S.B. 62 or the Free College Entrance Exam Act which seeks to remove the prohibitive cost of entrance examinations to ensure that poor but deserving high school graduates are given equal opportunities in applying for college admission to higher educational institutions.

Angara was one of the authors of the Universal Kindergarten Education Act, which mandates government to provide free kindergarten education to Filipino children. This law has been cited as one of his great contributions toward achieving accessible quality education in his nine years as Aurora representative.

"In a society with persistent poverty, education can be the great equalizer. Surely, not all are created equal but we must provide equal opportunities for all especially the disadvantaged, the poor and the marginalized," the senator said.

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