EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full Commentary below)

FROM PHILSTAR:

NEWS ANALYSIS: GOVT CONFIDENT WAR VS BIFF WOULD NOT DREAIL MINDANAO PEACE PROCESS


ALL-OUT OFFENSIVE. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. Photo courtesy of Ben Nabong/Rappler (Xinhua) - The all-out war launched by the Philippine military against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) would not affect the Mindanao peace process, according to a top Philippine government official. The massive military offensive that started Feb. 11 against the renegade Muslim rebels in the province of Maguindanao in Mindanao, some 1,800 km south of Manila, has already resulted in the death of 73 BIFF fighters and four government troopers. Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the government is confident that the military action against the BIFF would not derail the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the mainstream rebel group that has signed a peace accord with the government last year. The BIFF is led by former MILF commander Umbra Kato who decided to split from the MILF after the latter signed a peace pact with the government. The BIFF wants to establish an Islamic state in Mindanao while the MILF opted to have a sub-state called Bangsamoro with semi-sovereign powers but still within the ambit of the Philippine government. According to Deles, the military has assured them that the offensive against the BIFF is "very targeted" and would not include MILF-controlled areas. READ ON...

ALSO: Worrying about 2016


By Elfren S. Cruz  .......Together with other voices like Cardinal Chito Tagle and the Catholic Educational Association, Del Rosario reiterated the call of leaders of the business community to resume the Bangsamoro Peace Process, especially the hearings on the BBL. These initiatives have been unfortunately sidetracked because of the recent tragic events in Mamasapano. Certain politicians and media commentators have pounced on this tragedy to issue a call for all out war with the distorted logic that violence is the path to lasting peace. Part of this hysteria has been attributed to the media coverage of the subsequent events.   A group called the Professors for Peace included in their public stand the following statement: “We are alarmed by the hatred and bigotry surfacing in both the traditional and social media; and we call on all media to pursue more stringent fact-based reporting at this critical point in the peace process and in the nation’s history.”  READ FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO by Alex Magno: Gentleman


Every knowledgeable source I checked had only good words for Getulio Napenas, the sacked SAF commander and now obviously the escape goat for a presidency quickly running out of persons to blame for its lengthening list of failings.  The man is certainly held in very high esteem by his men. These are not ordinary men. The men and women of the SAF are the best there are. It takes a fine officer to exercise command over such a fine bunch.  The SAF, after all, is the most distinguished branch of the PNP. The men and women who compose this unit of police commandos went through tight screening and intense training. Mediocrity is unacceptable in this service. Professionalism enjoys highest premium.  Napenas’ biodata is exemplary, to say the least. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO OPINION ON NOV 2014: Can senior high school be deferred?


By Isagani Cruz
There are moves by a noisy minority to defer the implementation of Senior High School. Since the K to 12 reform can no longer be stopped because it has been institutionalized by two laws, they want instead of simply stop the process in midstream and postpone the formal opening of Senior High School (SHS) in 2016. Let us see what will happen if they succeed. READ  MORE...

ALSO FREEMAN EDITORIAL: Why the K to 12 is a pipe dream


Education Secretary Armin Luistro  
If plans do not miscarry, a group of teachers, non-teaching personnel, and parents will file with the Supreme Court a petition seeking its intervention in the K to 12 program which the government under the clueless leadership of Noynoy Aquino is hell-bent on implementing in 2016. The program seeks an additional two years of high school to the basic education curriculum.   Very rarely leaving Malacañang, Noynoy knows absolutely nothing about the consequences of this program. He is only being led by the nose through it by another clueless aide of his, Armin Luistro, whose only compelling reason for implementing the program is that the Philippines is supposedly the only country left in the world that still has a 10-year basic education curriculum.  What Luistro is not telling Noynoy, and Noynoy is too clueless to find out for himself, is that even with our 10-year basic education curriculum, we are still ages better than many of the countries in the world that already have 12 years. I will not mention these countries by name out of respect for their citizens, but you and I know what these countries are. Only Luistro and Noynoy do not know what the standards of education are in these countries. READ MORE...

ALSO: Phl needs K to 12 now


Elfren S. Cruz 
The Philippines is the only country in the ASEAN region that still has only ten years of basic education for its students. In fact, aside from a few African countries, we are the only country in the world that maintains that ten years is sufficient for basic education. Here is the total number of years of basic and pre-university education in the ASEAN countries: Brunei: 15 years; Cambodia 13 years; Indonesia: 13 years; Laos: 13 years; Malaysia: 13/14 years; Myanmar: 12 years; PHILIPPINES; 10 YEARS; Singapore: 12 to 14 years; Thailand: 12 years; Timor: 12 years; Vietnam: 14/15 years. One can argue that we cannot match the more advanced and richer countries in our region like Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. It is hard to believe that there are still Filipinos who maintain that we cannot afford to give our students the same basic education as countries like Laos, Timor, Myanmar and Cambodia. The K to 12 program seeks to give every Filipino student – especially the poor – the opportunity to receive quality education that is globally competitive based on a pedagogically sound curriculum that is at par with international standards. Let me emphasize again that we are talking about standards that apply not just to the riches countries – which are beginning to go beyond 12 years of basic education – but even to the poorest countries which are, at least, trying to give their youth a fighting chance to gain employment opportunities in the 21st century. READ MORE...

ALSO: Who’s fooling who?


By Babe Romualdez 
The “fool me once, shame on you…” statements of President Aquino before religious leaders last Monday, where he squarely laid the blame on the shoulders of sacked SAF Chief Getulio Napeñas for the death of 44 troopers, has sparked another round of criticism from many sectors including former President Ramos who accused President Aquino of being totally “un-presidential,” and eroded the popularity of the president even more with everyone now asking who’s fooling who. It did not sit well with a lot of people that the president couldn’t wait for the Board of Inquiry’s report by “jumping the gun” on the Mamasapano debacle. The BOI report is out and it stated that both the president and Napeñas violated the PNP chain of command – something that could give P-Noy critics even more fodder to demand for his ouster. Certainly, the full impact of the Mamasapano tragedy will be seen not only in the next survey but in the outcome of the 2016 elections given the already heated political atmosphere as seen in the escalating animosity between the camps of vice president Jojo Binay and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

News Analysis: Gov't confident war against BIFF would not derail Mindanao peace process


ALL-OUT OFFENSIVE. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. Photo courtesy of Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, MARCH 16, 2015 (PHILSTAR) (Xinhua) - The all-out war launched by the Philippine military against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) would not affect the Mindanao peace process, according to a top Philippine government official.

The massive military offensive that started Feb. 11 against the renegade Muslim rebels in the province of Maguindanao in Mindanao, some 1,800 km south of Manila, has already resulted in the death of 73 BIFF fighters and four government troopers.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the government is confident that the military action against the BIFF would not derail the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the mainstream rebel group that has signed a peace accord with the government last year.

The BIFF is led by former MILF commander Umbra Kato who decided to split from the MILF after the latter signed a peace pact with the government. The BIFF wants to establish an Islamic state in Mindanao while the MILF opted to have a sub-state called Bangsamoro with semi-sovereign powers but still within the ambit of the Philippine government.

According to Deles, the military has assured them that the offensive against the BIFF is "very targeted" and would not include MILF-controlled areas.

The military operation against the BIFF is centered on the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao where Basit Usman, the Filipino deputy of Malaysian-born terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as "Marwan," is believed to be hiding.

Marwan, an expert on bomb making, was killed in the bloody encounter on Jan. 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, but Usman was able to escape.

The encounter also resulted in the death of 44 members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP), 18 rebels and five civilians.

On Sunday, the Philippine military said that among the killed BIFF guerrillas was a foreign-looking combatant whose identity has not been established.

Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said they have information that four foreign terrorists were being coddled by Mohammad Ali Tambako, a former leader of the BIFF who formed his own splinter group called Islamic Justice Movement (IJM).

Other reports said four Indonesians and one Pakistani terrorist are still being coddled by the BIFF.

The government-led Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities has reported a series of incidents attributed to the BIFF aimed at sabotaging the peace process.

In July last year, a total of 10 violent incidents attributed to the BIFF took place in Maguindanao and North Cotabato. In August, violent incidents reportedly instigated by the BIFF rose to 17 and took place in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and the boundaries of both areas.

By September last year, violent incidents also perpetrated by the MILF-splinter group surged to 22 and covered not just the three previously-mentioned areas but also the province of Basilan.

The operation against the BIFF has forced about 45,000 civilians to flee their homes, according to local officials.

Meanwhile, a Malaysian policeman was reportedly released by Abu Sayyaf terrorists based in Sulu after almost eight months in captivity.

Harold Cabunoc, AFP spokesman, said Malaysian police officer Zakia Aliep was transported to Sabah where he was freed on March 7.

It was not officially confirmed if ransom was paid for the release of Aliep. But one newspaper reported that ransom money of $20 million was paid to the Abu Sayyaf in exchange for the release of the Malaysian.

Aliep was seized in July last year in Simporma, Malaysia following an ambush staged by the Abu Sayyaf. Another Malaysian policeman was killed.

According to Cabunoc, with Aliep's release, the Abu Sayyaf has held seven foreign and local hostages captive in their strongholds in the predominantly Muslim island-provinces of Sulu and Basilan in the southernmost tip of the Philippines.

One report said that in July last year Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon swore an oath of loyalty to the leader of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. ..


Worrying about 2016 BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated March 12, 2015 - 12:00am


By Elfren S. Cruz

There have been many burning issues that have engrossed us in the last months. Now we are nearing the start of the 2016 election campaigns.

October is the month for the filing of candidacies. But as of today, the only declared presidential candidate is Vice-President Jejomar Binay. Presumably by June of this year, the other serious candidates must already declare their intention. The choice of a presidential candidate will begin to become the more dominant topic in the next few months.

The business sector has done very well in the past 56 months, and more investments – domestic and foreign – are poised to come into the Philippines, now internationally acknowledged as the possible second fastest growing economy in the world. Since business investments are based on forecasts over the next five to ten years or more, the election of the next president has become a major factor as a basis for long term investments in the country. This concern was recently articulated by one of the major business leaders in the country.

Ramon del Rosario Jr. has been accepted as one of the preeminent spokesmen and leaders of the business sector in the last three decades. It is his courage to speak frankly on national issues and his advocacy for reforms that are actually beneficial to the whole country. His voice represents the more responsible sectors of society in business, education and civil society.

At the recently held fourth Arangkada Forum, he again addressed the leaders of all the major Philippine Business Groups – Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry – and all the major Foreign Chambers of Commerce. Again, he did not mince words and spoke his views on the major issues confronting the nation today and the immediate future.

He first gave credit to the Aquino administration for its excellent handling of our economic fundamentals; for its transparency initiatives; and, in international affairs, for its very principled position in resolving maritime disputes with China through the rule of law.

Again, he pointed out that this country is in much better shape than we have been for the last 16 years, and that he looks forward to a “very dynamic 2015.” I should add that international economic and media organizations have recently said that the Philippines will be the SECOND fastest growing economy in the world.

Together with other voices like Cardinal Chito Tagle and the Catholic Educational Association, Del Rosario reiterated the call of leaders of the business community to resume the Bangsamoro Peace Process, especially the hearings on the BBL. These initiatives have been unfortunately sidetracked because of the recent tragic events in Mamasapano. Certain politicians and media commentators have pounced on this tragedy to issue a call for all out war with the distorted logic that violence is the path to lasting peace. Part of this hysteria has been attributed to the media coverage of the subsequent events.

A group called the Professors for Peace included in their public stand the following statement: “We are alarmed by the hatred and bigotry surfacing in both the traditional and social media; and we call on all media to pursue more stringent fact-based reporting at this critical point in the peace process and in the nation’s history.”

In terms of legislative priorities, Del Rosario highlighted the passage of the Freedom of Information bill and the amendment of restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution which will give Congress the right to determine which areas of the economy should be opened to increased foreign participation.

In his address, however, Del Rosario, however, stated that “what is perhaps the most critical test for this administration in terms of preserving its gains is the choice of the presidential candidate who will continue the good governance and development agenda who will enjoy the endorsement of what I still believe is a respected and popular president, and who will have the support of the administration’s political party and machinery. That challenge remains and is something that cannot be taken lightly.”

What was interesting was the historical perspective of this statement when Del Rosario said: “We have already had previous experience where an incumbent president was unable to gather a consensus among his allies for a winnable and worthy successor and the result was ultimately more than a decade of lost opportunities for our country.” Although he did not explicitly say what election he was referring to, Del Rosario was probably referring to the 1998 presidential elections.

The final political scenery has not yet been set in stone. Aside from Vice-President Binay, the other presidential candidate is expected to be DILG Secretary Mar Roxas. There are other names that keep floating every time presidential politics is discussed. One such name is former presidential candidate and business tycoon Manny Villar. The other names include Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Senator Grace Poe, former Senator Ping Lacson, and the indefatigable Senator Miriam Santiago.

I believe that the greatest challenge for P-Noy in the remaining period of his presidential term is to institutionalize the reforms he has introduced especially in the realm of the rule of law. This will be his legacy: a nation that will be allowed to continue to move forward — whoever the next President may be — and no longer take steps in the opposite direction because of those who believe they are above the rule of law.

* * *

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Gentleman FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated March 12, 2015 - 12:00am


By Alex Magno

Every knowledgeable source I checked had only good words for Getulio Napenas, the sacked SAF commander and now obviously the escape goat for a presidency quickly running out of persons to blame for its lengthening list of failings.

The man is certainly held in very high esteem by his men. These are not ordinary men. The men and women of the SAF are the best there are. It takes a fine officer to exercise command over such a fine bunch.

The SAF, after all, is the most distinguished branch of the PNP. The men and women who compose this unit of police commandos went through tight screening and intense training. Mediocrity is unacceptable in this service. Professionalism enjoys highest premium.

Napenas’ biodata is exemplary, to say the least.

Raised by ordinary folk in La Union province, Napenas made it through the tough admissions process at the Philippine Military Academy. The stringent academic and military training program at one of our country’s premier institutions where excellence is as important as honor prepares one for the responsibilities of command like no other.

After the PMA, Napenas acquired two master’s degrees. The second degree was for strategic management at a respected institution in the UK.

Napenas’ educational attainment clearly overshadows that of one Benigno Simeon Aquino.

Early in his career as an officer, Napenas joined the Special Action Force of what was then the Philippine Constabulary. Joining the commando unit, with all the rigorous training and dangerous missions this unit undertakes, requires very high professional motivation. This is certainly not a unit for slackers.

In addition, he served on several UN missions and assumed important duties in the PNP hierarchy, including several stints in Mindanao. By the sheer force of professional achievement, he rose to two-star rank. Not bad for a commando.

If circumstances were more benign, Napenas might have become a serious contender for the top post at the PNP. He had the credentials and the service record.

Napenas’ career record certainly eclipses that of one Benigno Simeon Aquino, who served three terms at the House of Representatives and half-a-term at the Senate without any mentionable legislative achievement.

Yet, all the comparisons notwithstanding, it was Aquino who found the gall to describe Napenas as unprofessional, to characterize him basically as an idiot who did not know what he is doing. Aquino was totally unrestrained when he went after Napenas last Monday as he tried (rather vainly) to tar and feather an officer widely respected by his own colleagues.

The whole effort was clearly intended to build the narrative Aquino prefers: that he was tricked into allowing Oplan Exodus to proceed by an officer whose expertise was in flattery and not in battle. The blame just had to be passed. This we know from constant repetition is Aquino’s (mis)understanding of leadership.

Unfortunately for Aquino, the only person available for passing the blame to happens to be an officer with a sterling record. While Napenas is well regarded by his peers for his accomplishment, Aquino has been widely derided for incompetence.

This is not an instance of the pot calling the kettle black. This is an event where the clown calls the savant an idiot. A tough sell.

In trying to sully Napenas’ reputation to achieve his own despicable goal of evading responsibility, Aquino has transformed this game into a clash of service records. In such a clash, the voluble President is dwarf and the quiet police officer a giant.

The odds become even more uneven as this becomes a comparison of gentlemanliness.

Gen. Napenas was instructed to keep his peace until after the Board of Inquiry releases its findings. With great self-restraint, he has abided by those instructions. Here, after all, is a man trained in discipline.

From January 25, Napenas has submitted to the processes like a true officer and gentleman. He submitted to being interviewed by the Board and surrendered his phone for forensic examination. By contrast, neither Aquino nor his best friend Alan Purisima fully cooperated with the inquiry.

Aquino, for his part, pulled that stunt of crudely smearing Napenas just as the Board of Inquiry was about to release its report. It was clear he wanted to steer the report to his version of the universe. It did seem he was not only pulling rank and smearing Napenas. He was bullying the Board of Inquiry itself.

When the Board delayed release of its findings, the public became even more suspicious. People think the report is now being massaged to cohere with Aquino’s strange narrative. If that is confirmed by a flimsy report, the credibility of the PNP as an institution will be severely damaged.

On the other hand, if the report due to be released today contradicts the narrative Aquino has been peddling by his lonesome, then the President will suffer a blow to his credibility that he cannot cure given the short time he has left in office. Aquino has spoken out of turn and offered the public a brazenly self-serving version of events. He has made himself even more vulnerable to public repudiation.

Aquino has resorted to cheap name-calling to insist on his version of events. His statements change from day to day more dramatically than a kaleidoscope does. He was short-tempered and irritable dealing with grieving widows. He entrapped himself in a web of contradictions. He has set himself up as the villain in his compelling morality play.

Purisima behaved oddly as well, assiduously avoiding the widows and escaping all ceremonies of closure to this event. He, in turn, sets himself up as the devil’s assistant. ..


PHILSTAR OPINION LAST YEAR NOVEMBER 20, 2014

Can senior high school be deferred? MINI CRITIQUE By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 20, 2014 - 12:00am


By Isagani Cruz

There are moves by a noisy minority to defer the implementation of Senior High School. Since the K to 12 reform can no longer be stopped because it has been institutionalized by two laws, they want instead of simply stop the process in midstream and postpone the formal opening of Senior High School (SHS) in 2016.

Let us see what will happen if they succeed.

First of all, Filipinos who are now or will be employed as marine engineers or seamen will be out of a job. International authorities have already said that the lack of two years in our basic education automatically disqualifies Filipinos from working on ships.

Second, Filipino engineers will remain mere technicians and will not be employed as engineers abroad. (There are a handful of Filipino engineers that prove the rule; these are exceptionally gifted individuals who have found proper professional employment abroad despite the lack of two years of basic education.)

The protesters insist that Filipino seamen, engineers, and others working abroad constitute only ten percent of the population (or roughly 10 million) anyway. That is correct, but think of how many Filipinos depend on this ten percent. If each Filipino abroad has only five dependents in the Philippines, then there are 60 million Filipinos who will not be getting what is due them. That is definitely the majority of our population.

Third, SHS actually started in 2012 with a few model schools. In June 2015, more than a hundred schools will start SHS, as President Aquino has already publicly declared. These hundred or so schools have permission from the Department of Education (DepEd) to start SHS a year earlier than the original target of June 2016. What will happen to the thousands of students in these schools?

Fourth, the K to 12 reform involves a radical change in the curriculum not only of basic education but even of higher education. The most important aspect of the reform as far as the current issue is concerned is spiraling. The content of subjects that used to be taught only for ten years has been parceled out into 12 (actually 13, counting Kindergarten) parts.

One problem with the old curriculum was that Filipino students had to learn in 10 years what students in other countries studied in 12 or more years. As a result, most Filipino students did not really learn the subjects, as is obvious from their low marks in national standardized exams and college entrance exams. What students used to learn by Fourth Year High School (or Grade 10) is now more adequately learned only by the end of Grade 12.

If SHS is deferred, those now finishing Grade 10 will have an incomplete basic education. They cannot go to higher education. Let me repeat that: those now completing Grade 10 are not ready to go to college. The protesters, therefore, are condemning those now in high school to being half-educated and incapable of pursuing higher studies.

The time for protesting against the K to 12 reform is over. The Kindergarten Law and the K to 12 Law have both been passed and are now operating. Students now in school are using the new curriculum. There is no going back. Those advocating a return to the old system are not only holding back the education of our children but are actively working for their miseducation.

BALINTATAW.

Congratulations to “Radyo Balintataw,” which won two major awards in the recent Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA), namely, Best Entertainment Program and Best Drama Program in the Drama category.

Awards are not unexpected for the long-running show, now on DZRH for the last 22 years. The television show “Balintataw” (on what was then Channel 5) was named to the Hall of Fame of the CMMA after it won all the annual awards from 1967 to 1972, when it was closed down by martial law.

After martial law, when it was revived first on television and later on radio, “Balintataw” started winning awards again. It was even featured on CNN as a model for socially-proactive media (in a program hosted by Jane Fonda).

NATIONAL BOOK DEVELOPMENT BOARD.

My second term as a Governor of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) ended last Monday. I am grateful to President Aquino for having appointed me to that position which allowed me to help chart the course of writing and publishing in the country.

The National Book Awards, jointly sponsored by the NBDB and the Manila Critics Circle, will be handed out this Saturday at the National Museum.

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners! They have proven, once again, that books authored and published in the Philippines can hold their own against the best books in the rest of the world.

Perhaps it is time for bookstores to abolish their “Filipiniana” or “Philippine Books” sections and instead display Philippine books together with imported books. Our books now are as good as, if not better than, most imported books. ..


FREEMAN OPINION (PHILSTAR)

Why the K to 12 is a pipe dream TO THE QUICK By Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) | Updated March 11, 2015 - 12:00am


Education Secretary Armin Luistro

If plans do not miscarry, a group of teachers, non-teaching personnel, and parents will file with the Supreme Court a petition seeking its intervention in the K to 12 program which the government under the clueless leadership of Noynoy Aquino is hell-bent on implementing in 2016. The program seeks an additional two years of high school to the basic education curriculum.

Very rarely leaving Malacañang, Noynoy knows absolutely nothing about the consequences of this program. He is only being led by the nose through it by another clueless aide of his, Armin Luistro, whose only compelling reason for implementing the program is that the Philippines is supposedly the only country left in the world that still has a 10-year basic education curriculum.

What Luistro is not telling Noynoy, and Noynoy is too clueless to find out for himself, is that even with our 10-year basic education curriculum, we are still ages better than many of the countries in the world that already have 12 years. I will not mention these countries by name out of respect for their citizens, but you and I know what these countries are. Only Luistro and Noynoy do not know what the standards of education are in these countries.

To be sure, adding two years to education should be good, as you can never go wrong with education. But the Philippines is simply not ready for two more years of high school, regardless of what name you may call it. Our own standards of education cannot ensure that the lofty goals of K to 12 will be met. And if they cannot be met, then we will all only be wasting two years of precious time that students could have spent some other way preparing for their own futures.

It is no secret, except to Noynoy and Luistro, that the quality of education in the Philippines is shot. Many of our teachers have been driven to teaching by circumstances other than a genuine love for teaching. As a result, teaching is just a job for them and not a vocation. Worse, the lack of government supervision and support for teaching schools has given rise to a situation where teaching is not equipped with the best equipment there is -- highly qualified teachers.

Teaching is the most important vocation in the world. It is teaching that prepares the young for their future role of shepherding the world toward its future. Yet what a great anomaly it is, therefore, for government not to make sure the best minds in the country are enticed to go into the noble profession of teaching, or once enticed, for them to get the right incentives to stay on, instead of leaving for better paying jobs abroad once the opportunity arises.

For all its brave talk and grand illusions about being at par with the rest of the world as far as the number of years there must be to basic education, the government continues to fail to provide education with the right support and the proper environment for teaching to be meaningful and gainful, especially in the public schools. Good for the La Salle of Luistro and the other private schools for they can afford to be ready for K to 12. But the public schools are simply out of sync.

The K to 12 program is for everybody, not just for the private schools. In the public schools, children as many as 70 are cramped into rooms that are steaming hot in summer and leaking when it rains. And that is if there are rooms. Where there are no rooms, they hold classes under trees. And they share textbooks that are full of factual errors, often five kids to a book.

And if there are classroom shortages now, there will be even greater classroom shortages when high school students who should be going off to college will be sticking around for two more years. And because those who should be going off to college will be sticking around for two more years, there will be even more textbook shortages than ever before.

So, instead of improving education by adding two more years to basic education, the Philippines will instead be set back in its quest for better education. No improvement of education will happen in an environment where more and more students get cramped in less and less classrooms, sharing fewer and fewer books that only add to misinformation with their factual errors instead of enlightening them.

Under such circumstances, Noynoy and Luistro can make basic education last the whole of 20 years and no proper education of the Filipino will happen. And that is because the problem with Noynoy and Luistro is that they only look at the envisioned results but pay no mind to the means of acquiring them. Noynoy and Luistro are the classic examples of people who count their chicks before they are hatched. They see the pasture on the other side but do not see the bull blocking their path.

Noynoy cannot look at the readiness of his Ateneo and Luistro his La Salle to embrace K to 12. Of course these schools have been ready way before yesterday. But K to 12 is not just for those schools whose standards are already way up high even without any intervention by government. The crucial weakness of K to 12 is where education is most vulnerable, even until now -- in the much-neglected public schools. If K to 12 succeeds in one place but fails in another, it is still a failure. ..


Phl needs K to 12 now Posted on Sunday Mar 15th at 12:00am BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz


Elfren S. Cruz

The Philippines is the only country in the ASEAN region that still has only ten years of basic education for its students. In fact, aside from a few African countries, we are the only country in the world that maintains that ten years is sufficient for basic education.

Here is the total number of years of basic and pre-university education in the ASEAN countries: Brunei: 15 years; Cambodia 13 years; Indonesia: 13 years; Laos: 13 years; Malaysia: 13/14 years; Myanmar: 12 years; PHILIPPINES; 10 YEARS; Singapore: 12 to 14 years; Thailand: 12 years; Timor: 12 years; Vietnam: 14/15 years.

One can argue that we cannot match the more advanced and richer countries in our region like Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. It is hard to believe that there are still Filipinos who maintain that we cannot afford to give our students the same basic education as countries like Laos, Timor, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The K to 12 program seeks to give every Filipino student – especially the poor – the opportunity to receive quality education that is globally competitive based on a pedagogically sound curriculum that is at par with international standards. Let me emphasize again that we are talking about standards that apply not just to the riches countries – which are beginning to go beyond 12 years of basic education – but even to the poorest countries which are, at least, trying to give their youth a fighting chance to gain employment opportunities in the 21st century.

One of the observations of many employers is that our public high school graduates are not qualified even for the most basic jobs. That is why we find that even messengers, retail clerks and technicians are often required to have a college or university degree. These are positions that high school graduates should be qualified to assume. That is why another goal of the K to 12 program is to “broaden the goals of high school education for college preparation, vocational and technical career opportunities as well as creative sports, sports and entrepreneurial employment in a rapidly changing and increasingly globalized environment.”

There are those that argue that we should postpone the start of the K to 12 program. I argue that the deadline for starting this program is long overdue. For the sake of the Filpino youth, this should be started immediately. Again, are we prepared to say that we are less ready than the other countries in ASEAN, like Laos and Cambodia? Surely not and they pushed through with their own 12-year basic program because they considered it a necessity and not a luxury that can be postponed.

This proposal to extend the number of years of basic education is not new. In July 1949, the UNESCO Consultative Educational Mission to the Philippines submitted a comprehensive report on the Philippine educational system to then President Elpidio Quirino. Among its general conclusions was the following statement:

“The program of six years in the elementary school and four years in the secondary school does not seem adequate for a common school period. Eventually this should be extended to at least 12 years, with compulsory attendance in the elementary grades and free schooling for those desiring it in the secondary grades.”

The question many might want to ask is why only is it being implemented now if the K to 12 program is such a necessity. Even DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro says that this is not a new idea. The name may be new but past administrations have considered this program. Luistro said: “ it’s not new. If you review the history of the Department (of Education), the Monroe commission during the American period, their first recommendation was to add a fifth year (high school).”

So where did the idea germinate. Br. Luistro was former President of De La Salle University. He explains: “When I was in La Salle, I was part of the Philippine Business for Education ( PBE). PBE as a group , and this included industry partners and educators and other civil society leaders, put together an education agenda. At that time, the thinking was we cannot just support government, we also have to push and do our share in terms of reforming society, and te best way is to start in education. If you look at how it evolved, educators came together and said what do we need to do? Most of what you find in the K to 12 reform is there, pushed by the PBE and supported by an even bigger network.”

The K to 12 program will be the greatest legacy of Secretary Luistro. But aside from this program, the Department of Education has been one of the best performing agency in the P-Noy administration. Consider a few facts and statistics.

Classrooms were always a big program in every administration in spite of the big budget for Education. It is no secret that there were many “leakages” and PDAF type scams in the past when it came to classroom construction. Then there were also constant complaints of shortages of teachers. Here are certain that are truly impressive.

In terms of classrooms constructed: In 2010: 3,291 classrooms; in 2011: 12,513 classrooms; in 2012: 16,323 classrooms; 2013: 34,686 classrooms; and in 2014: 33,608 classrooms.

In terms of new teachers hired: in 2010: 11,347 teachers; 2011: 13, 268 teachers; 2012: 15253 teachers; 2013: 58,793 teachers 2014: 29,394 teachers.

There has also been a reduction in the number of congested schools. In 2011 there were 81 elementary schools with 4 shifts and in 2014 this was reduced to 0 schools. In 2011 there were 461 elementary schools with 3 shifts and in 2014 this was reduced to 14 schools.

In 2011 there were 296 secondary schools with 4 shifts and in 2014 this was reduced to 0 schools. In 2011 there 53 secondary schools with 3 shifts and in 2014 this was reduced to 4 schools. There has also been a steady improvement in completion rates and National Achievement Test scores for both elementary and secondary schools.

The Department of Education has meticulously prepared an implementation plan for the Senior High School program which it presented to Congress last March 11. Among the plan is a Senior High School Voucher Program under which the government will pay for senior high students who cannot be accommodated in public schools and must enrol in private school.

Fifteen DepEd secretaries have grappled with the herculean task of reforming Philippine education. Perhaps it is because Br. Armin Luistro, the current DepEd Secretary considers education a vocation and not just an occupation; and he has no political or economic agenda; and, he has the capacity to think in terms of addressing the root cause of poverty that we have a secretary prepared to make this bold in spite of political challenges.

Education is the pathway for the poor to have an opportunity for a life of human dignity. It is for them and the future generations of Filipinos that we need to go forward and not take backward steps again. The K-12 program will allow us to catch up with the rest of the world and we need to do that now.


Who’s fooling who? Posted on Sunday Mar 15th at 12:00am BABE’S EYE VIEW By Babe Romualdez


By Babe Romualdez

The “fool me once, shame on you…” statements of President Aquino before religious leaders last Monday, where he squarely laid the blame on the shoulders of sacked SAF Chief Getulio Napeñas for the death of 44 troopers, has sparked another round of criticism from many sectors including former President Ramos who accused President Aquino of being totally “un-presidential,” and eroded the popularity of the president even more with everyone now asking who’s fooling who.

It did not sit well with a lot of people that the president couldn’t wait for the Board of Inquiry’s report by “jumping the gun” on the Mamasapano debacle.

The BOI report is out and it stated that both the president and Napeñas violated the PNP chain of command – something that could give P-Noy critics even more fodder to demand for his ouster.

Certainly, the full impact of the Mamasapano tragedy will be seen not only in the next survey but in the outcome of the 2016 elections given the already heated political atmosphere as seen in the escalating animosity between the camps of vice president Jojo Binay and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

There’s really no telling which way the highly charged political atmosphere will take us, but ultimately, it will really be up to the people to judge who they think is more credible. It’s clear, too, that the political dynamics in this country have become even more volatile.

With the president’s credibility having suffered heavily – “rapidly eroding” as his critics maintain – Mar Roxas who is the presumed Liberal Party candidate may have a problem relying on the president’s endorsement. On the other hand, VP Binay continues to be under siege.

If he maintains his credibility with the masa and can convince them that the attacks against him are all political in nature, then very likely he will remain on top of the heap.

No doubt the botched Mamasapano operation has trained the attention of people on other potential presidentiables, like Senator Grace Poe who gained a lot of ground for her impressive handling of the Senate committee hearings on the SAF 44 – with a lot of supporters now urging her to make a run for the top post in 2016.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano’s strong words against the government peace panel which he has lumped together with the MILF as untrustworthy – saying in one interview that he was almost taken for a ride by the MILF on the Bangsamoro Basic Law – also gave him a lot of mileage especially among opponents of the proposed Bangsamoro law, although we have yet to see if this will improve his ratings in the next survey.

Sonny Trillanes is also perceived to be veering away from his image as the administration’s “defender-in-chief,” perhaps reflecting that being linked with the president may not be in his best interest. In fact, even administration allies seem to be distancing themselves from the chief executive whose perceived conflicting accounts about the Mamasapano tragedy has provoked a number of them seriously thinking of jumping ship.

When all is said and done, people will remember US President Abraham Lincoln’s famous line — “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Not surprisingly, the highly charged political atmosphere is prompting some groups to again call for a transition government headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The chief justice — who was our guest speaker at the MOPC forum last Thursday (see photos of the event in today’s Allure section) – bucked such calls, saying that the 1987 Constitution has denied her that political role of succession (unlike in the 1935 Constitution where the Chief Justice is fourth in line after the vice president, the Senate president and the Speaker).

Sereno said her role is not to engage in partisan politics, stressing that her mandate is clear: To help bring the country towards a more constitution-oriented framework. “War comes at a very high cost, and if there is an alternative to war that is acceptable in the context of justice and the rule of law, then this must be pursued. But how that pursuit is to be made is the test of good governance,” she said.

During the forum, it became apparent that despite P-Noy’s “disappointments” regarding Supreme Court decisions (like the disbursement acceleration program which was ruled with finality as unconstitutional), CJ Sereno is, ironically, turning out to be good for him and is probably the best appointment he ever made.

To the chief justice, the Supreme Court has a grave and sacred role bestowed upon it by the Constitution — and that is to constantly bring the ship of state back to the Constitution — the “North Star” — whenever it departs from its course.

To this end, the SC must not lose its relevance in shaping society and history, and must be the “stabilizing force” in a democracy where the two other branches of government are political in nature. What this country needs, she said, are “leaders whose agenda will not be questioned, and whose motives are clear.”

The symbol of justice is a lady holding a scale with her eyes blindfolded to show impartiality.

But it’s becoming clear that our lady chief justice who famously said, “I do not serve presidents, excuse me” (to emphasize that the court has a distinct role and that the Filipino public’s belief in its independence will assure the long-term survival and flourishing of democracy in this country), is not blind – neither deaf – to the strong need among the Filipino people to be validated in their quest for justice.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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