Monday, January 07, 2008

De Castro may contend in 2010

Vice-President said he can serve the country if given a ‘longer term’

By Francis Earl A. Cueto, Manila Times Reporter

VICE-President Noli de Castro strongly hinted on Sunday of his intentions to drop his hat into the 2010 presidential race, stating that he can still serve the country better on a longer term.

In a statement, de Castro said that there are still more and bigger things that he can still do.

“In my three years of serving as Vice-President, I’ve identified the leading problems of the country and those that need to be solved for the welfare of our people,” de Castro said.

However, de Castro said that it is not yet the time for him to make a categorical statement if he will run or not in the 2010 elections.

“If I declare my intention to run as president, I expect that it would be hard for me to fully perform my duties. I expect that some political sectors would put political color on all my goals and civic activities,” said de Castro.

De Castro made the statement after Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said that the vice-president is the most formidable foe the opposition can face.

Talks about possible contenders for the country’s top post in 2010 have been going around recently, with Senate President Manuel Villar, Senators Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, Loren Legarda and Panfilo Lacson among the names being dropped.

Other presidential aspirants are Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro.

Talks about contenders for the 2010 presidential elections became loud after former President Joseph Estrada undertook various medical missions in remote areas in Metro Manila in what critics see as a move to win back his popularity in preparation for another run for the Palace in 2010.

United opposition wants caution

Meanwhile, United Opposition (UNO) president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay over the weekend cautioned presidential aspirants of the 2010 elections, saying that talks and speculations at this point are premature. He added that political parties should instead focus their energy on pressing problems.

“Every one of us should bear in mind that notwithstanding all the noise there are still many problems that has yet to be resolved. The focus should be on how to solve the country’s problems such as poverty, crime incidence, peace and order problem, human rights violation among others,” Binay said.

Binay is being touted upon as the opposition’s standard-bearer in the 2010 election.

The UNO president added that while there’s nothing wrong in political parties and figures to “sound-off” their plans for the 2010 presidential election, the opposition will continue its role as a fiscalizer and will not stop being a critic of the present administration.
-- With James Konstantin Galvez

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Senators: electoral reforms before politicking

By Efren L. Danao, Manila Times Senior Reporter

Senator Richard Gordon said Saturday that the nation should focus on electoral reforms before discussing potential contenders for the presidency in 2010.

Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan, on the other hand, said that focus should be on who would be appointed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda said that talks about 2010 are premature and serve as distraction to the solution of pressing problems like the spiraling oil prices and poverty.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms, said that the country should concentrate on electoral reforms to avoid electoral fraud in the upcoming August 8 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and eventually in the presidential elections in May 2010.

“If the country has to change, [the electoral system] has to be reformed. This will be a good test if Filipinos have already acquired the moral backbone. If not, we will be like Haiti or Kenya or Pakistan, if we ever allow a convicted highest official to govern again,” he said.

He added that these reforms should start with President Gloria Arroyo showing transparency in the selection of the next chairman and commissioners of the Comelec.

“If there is transparency, people will have less doubt about the appointees and in the Comelec,” added Gordon, who has been pushing for automated elections to eliminate fraud since 2000.

Three vacancies in the Comelec are to be filled up in February with the resignation of Chairman Benjamin Abalos, and the retirement of Commissioners Resureccion Borra and Florentino Tuason on February 2.

Pangilinan echoed Gordon’s sentiments on the significance of the Comelec appointments.

“Political parties and their leaders must focus on ensuring that the Comelec appointees to be appointed in a few weeks’ time are men and women with integrity and capacity. Without an independent and [corruption]-free Comelec, all this talk about 2010 is a waste of time,” he said.

He noted that the search committee had reported that 56 names were being considered for the Comelec positions.

“We urge the search committee to make public the list of these nominees and to invite the public to submit position papers for or against these nominees. The list should be made public before it is culled or shortlisted,” he said.

Meanwhile, Legarda said that while there is nothing wrong for political parties to “sound off” and prepare for 2010, they may prove to be more of a distraction to the nation already beset with pressing problems like poverty and the spiraling prices of oil products.

She said that the political landscape could still change before the 2010 elections, but the pressing problems are already here and now.

“Based on my experience in the past three elections, line-ups are usually formed just months ahead of the election so, the pronouncements we are hearing at present may be just to test the waters,” Legarda added.

De Castro is best bet of administration

By Norman Bordadora - Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines--The opposition views Vice President Noli De Castro as the “most formidable” contender that the administration can field in the 2010 presidential election.

But even De Castro will be no match for anyone in the opposition’s crop of “presidentiables,” according to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and lawyer Adel Tamano, both opposition stalwarts.

Rodriguez, former spokesperson of deposed President Joseph Estrada, the recognized leader of the opposition, made the fearless forecast at yesterday’s Kapihan sa Sulo news forum, saying: “We believe that our crop of ‘presidentiables’ can do better. As long as the opposition is not divided four or five ways, we will win.”

Tamano, the spokesperson of the United Opposition, agreed that De Castro was the strongest candidate that the administration could put up against the likes of Senate President Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP), Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II of the Liberal Party (LP), and Senators Loren Legarda and Panfilo Lacson.

“But he has the same built-in weakness in that he is with the administration,” Tamano pointed out.

Declared Rodriguez: “Vice President De Castro is the most formidable.

“But he is ‘beatable’ by a strong opposition. He is identified with the administration, and the administration trust rating is very low.”

The administration coalition, led by the Lakas-CMD, is reportedly looking to choose its standard-bearer in 2010 from among De Castro, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando and Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte.

Administration Sen. Richard Gordon is said to be also considering a run for the presidency.

Lakas executive director Ray Roquero yesterday told the Inquirer by phone that the ruling party might “adopt” De Castro.

But Roquero added that De Castro had to surmount obstacles within Lakas in the persons of Fernando and Belmonte.

De Castro and Gordon, despite having proved an ability to win an elective post on the national level, are outside the fold of Lakas.

Fernando and Belmonte are Lakas members, but neither has mounted a nationwide electoral campaign.

Another administration stalwart reportedly being considered for a run for the presidency is Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Of the lot, only Fernando has categorically declared himself available for nomination as Lakas standard-bearer.

“Yes, I want to run,” he told the Inquirer on Friday. “You can’t be too coy about this. You have to let people know what you want.”


Tamano said that for many qualified senatorial candidates in the 2007 midterm elections, their affiliation with the administration coalition proved to be a liability.

“Team Unity had many good candidates who lost because of the badge that they are part of the administration ticket,” he said.

But despite the opposition’s declared winning stance, Tamano cautioned its stalwarts against dwelling too much on 2010.

“Let us not be too arrogant ... [If we don’t come to an understanding] we may very well lose,” he said.

Tamano also appealed to members of the opposition “to lower the political noise.”

“It’s too early [for it],” he said, adding:

“The people want the opposition to address the country’s problems ... Don’t forget why the people voted for the opposition in the first place.”

The opposition fielded 11 candidates and won seven of 12 seats in the 2007 elections.

The 12th opposition candidate would have been the LP’s Sen. Francis Pangilinan, but he chose to run an independent campaign.

Estrada had earlier said he wanted the opposition to field a common presidential candidate in order to avoid a repeat of the 2004 polls when the opposition’s votes were split between his best friend, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., and Lacson.

He had said that he might run himself if the opposition forces failed to come together.


Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Lakas secretary general, explained De Castro’s apparent edge over other presidential aspirants allied with MalacaƱang:

“One of the factors that seem to be on Noli’s side is his loyalty to the administration in the last five years. That [partly] explains why some members of the party are pushing for his endorsement.”

Zubiri said De Castro had proven his capacity to assist in the implementation of the administration’s programs, especially in the housing sector.

De Castro, an independent candidate, was President Macapagal-Arroyo’s running mate in the 2004 polls under the administration coalition, K-4.

On Friday, Presidential Management Staff chief Cerge Remonde said his personal opinion was that De Castro would be the administration’s best bet for 2010.


Also on Friday, Zubiri said Lakas would kick off the selection process for its standard-bearer for 2010 in a two-day national directorate meeting to be held in Manila in the third week of January.

He said Ms Arroyo herself had requested that Lakas “start the process.”

Yesterday, Zubiri told the Inquirer that both the NP and the NPC had actively been courting Lakas’ support.

He said the “possible” presidential contenders were Belmonte, Fernando and De Castro, but quickly added:

“Even Manny (Villar of the NP) and Loren (Legarda of the NPC) have spoken to me personally on a possible coalition”

But the Legarda camp was quick to deny this.

Said Zubiri: “As of now, there is a large field [of presidential aspirants] for Lakas to choose from.”

He said that “although not very high in the surveys,” Belmonte and Fernando were “respected in terms of performance.”

He also said he gave the NP and NPC “suggestions on how to proceed with a possible coalition partnership between our party and their party.”

According to Zubiri, what is important in coalition-building is “our ideologies as political parties are in sync with each other.”

“Among the political parties today in the Philippines, we are similar in ideology with the NP as well as the NPC. So that’s Loren and Manny,” he said.

He added that Lakas’ political ideology was centrist: “We are not Right or Left. We are similar in ideology to the political parties of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, and in Asia, the Golkar party of Indonesia.”

‘Defending champion’

Roquero pointed out that the forthcoming Lakas meeting was for “strategic planning,” and that there was no rush to name a standard-bearer.

As the party with the largest machinery, “we should be the last one to declare our candidate,” he said.

Roquero said Lakas members and possible election coalition partners should proceed from this basic assumption.

“We are the defending, reigning champion. We won back-to-back [in the 2004 polls],” he said.

“As the dominant majority party, we will be the one to choose. They should go through a process. All others are miniscule parties. They simply want to attract new members, so they float names.”

But Davao Rep. Prospero Nograles, Lakas’ regional vice president for Mindanao, hinted that the party could merge with other parties with strong presidential contenders to survive 2010.

“I think Lakas right now is very fluid, and anything is possible at this point,” said Nograles.

He said Lakas and Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino, Ms Arroyo’s party, “must get its act together as soon as possible.”

“Too early to tell [if Lakas will remain intact]. We all must talk to our allies first, so that we can emerge strong,” he said.

With reports from Michael Lim Ubac and Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Sunset Derby champ leads US cast in NCA world meet

Sunset Derby champ leads US cast in NCA world meet

Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- Top American gamefowl breeders, led by the winner of the prestigious US Sunset Derby, have arrived in the country to start preparations for the National Cockers' Association (NCA) World Championship Derby slated Jan. 8, 10 and 12 at the Rizal Multipurpose Hall in Pasig City.

Sunset Derby winner Larry Whitehead leads the foreign cast which also includes Jerry Glass, the reigning world champion of Mid-America in Oklahoma and Bayou Club in Louisiana, Joseph Wolcott, Eddie Odell, and Drew Ferguson.

Sunset, Louisiana, is considered the cockfighting capital of the United States and site of some of the world's most prestigious cockfighting championships.

The NCA World Championship Derby is often called the Olympics of cockfighting.

Among the local enthusiasts who will vie for the crown are 2007 NCA Stag Derby runners-up Manny Pacquiao and Benjie Lim, JV Magsaysay of Zambales, Bong Pineda, Makati City Vice Mayor Nestor Mercado, Lito Orillaza, Ruel Ricafort and former Rizal governor Ito Ynares.

The winner of the NCA World Championship Derby will receive a trophy crafted by National Artist Eduardo Castrillo.

For the NCA world derby, the organizing Firefly Group is collaborating with Bebot Uy and Mario Villamor, the first ever NCA Cocker of the Year.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Reconciled budget bill done this month

Representative Lagman hopes meeting with Senator Enrile can help avoid reenacted budget for 2008

By Maricel V. Cruz Reporter

The bicameral conference committee on the proposed P1.227-trillion national budget for 2008 is expected next week to come up with a reconciled version of the measure to fast track its approval and prevent a reenacted budget.

Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, made this disclosure, saying he would meet with his Senate counterpart, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, shortly after January 7 to forge a reconciled appropriations bill. Lagman also heads the House panel in the Bicameral Conference Committee on the budget bill.

For Lagman, the disagreeing provisions of the House and Senate versions in the General Appropriations Act of 2008 “cannot be vanished instantly by a magic wand.”

Lagman said his meeting with Enrile will center on how much could be cut or reduced in the debt service allocation, and how much could be added to the budget for basic services like education, health, social welfare and development, agriculture, infrastructure, environment, energy, and national order and security.

Lagman said both houses would also craft the needed special provisions to ensure full implementation of congressional realignments and augmentations.

Both Lagman and Enrile have been authorized by their respective panels to work out a compromise version before both bran-ches of Congress resume session on January 28.

The compromise bill is still subject to formal confirmation by the Bicameral Conference Committee, and final plenary ratification by the House and the Senate assembled individually.

After the budget bill is ratified by both houses of Congress, it will be given to President Gloria Arroyo for approval.

The President, however, may choose to veto questionable line items, and her veto can only be overridden by a 2/3 vote of each branch of Congress.

More funds for state schools

In another development, Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, has identified the most outstanding of the 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country and pressed for the allocation of more funds to enable them to maintain their excellence.

Angara has sponsored a bill to provide more budget for the most outstanding SUCs, which in his list includes: the Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte; Central State University in Munoz, Nueva Ecija; Visayas State University in Baybay, Leyte; Aklan State University in Kalibo, Aklan; and University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

He did not mention anymore the University of the Philippines and the Philippine Normal University among the outstanding SUCs “because they are a class by themselves.”

These SUCs have varying standards and stages of development, but Angara “characterized them as outstanding because of their notable research and development output, their international linkages with some of the leading universities in Asia, Europe and the US, and the commercialization of their inventions.”

He also lauded the five universities for producing outstanding agricultural and technological graduates, as well as research and development projects and outputs.
--With Efren L. Danao

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Man sues Korean ship firm for son’s death

By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The father of a worker at a subsidiary of the Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. Ltd. in Subic, Zambales, has filed a criminal case against a Korean who drove the truck from where his son fell over and died on Dec. 24.

Raul Loquinario also sued Hanjin’s DMK Philippines-Korea Co.-HHIC for alleged labor violations.

Loquinario, 47, assailed the police in Subic town for not arresting the driver, Jang Jong-dae, 41, and chief of the engineering unit.

The case for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Jang was filed at the Olongapo City prosecutor’s office on Dec. 27.

Money rejected

The family has also refused the offer of P100,000 from a certain Mr. Lee, reportedly a director of the DMK, as settlement for the death of Reynan, 24.

“My son’s work was over that day but that Korean ordered my son and his coworker (Jason Valdeztamon) to board the truck and hold the two pipes there as he drove within the Hanjin compound,” Loquinario told the Inquirer by phone.

In an affidavit, Valdeztamon said Jang instructed them to hold two metal pipes. “The sidings of the trucks were not closed. We had no safety cables on. The driver drove very fast. Reynan was [thrown off] the truck and the pipes fell also on him,” Valdeztamon said.

Reynan died of multiple crash injuries.

Jang, Loquinario said, was not supposed to drive the truck at that time because the vehicle was assigned to another personnel.

No reply

The Inquirer on Sunday tried but failed to reach Jang, the DMK or Hanjin. Jong Yu-pyeong, Hanjin general manager, did not reply to the Inquirer’s queries on Sunday.

“The policemen acted like they were mediating for Hanjin, not on behalf of my son. They were preventing us from filing cases. They did not want to make an affidavit of my complaint,” Loquinario said.

Supt. Cesar Jacob, Subic police chief, said his men tried but failed to find Jang at the Hanjin compound.

“When we could not find Jang, we went to the family of the victim to get their statements. They agreed to a settlement at first but changed their mind,” Jacob said.

The complaints by Loquinario, the first to be filed against a Hanjin employee and the companies, provide a test case on how these Korean investors treat Filipino workers and what safety measures are there in the workplace, according to Ramon Lacbain II, chair of the Zambales government’s Task Force Hanjin that assisted the family.

Reynan, the eldest in the brood of six, was the family’s lone breadwinner. Loquinario has been ill and tends a family retail store.

Jacob described the DMK as a “subcontractor” of Hanjin.

Cops helpless

Chief Supt. Errol Pan, Central Luzon police director, said the task force has “no jurisdiction over the case.” He said the police have prepared a case against some people who prompted the Loquinarios to reject the settlement offer. He declined to identify them.

A policeman in Zambales said Hanjin offered P250,000 but the task force “meddled” and “influenced” the family to demand at least P2 million. Loquinario denied it.

R&D key to development

By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal Online
THE Philippines still lags behind developed economies because it lacks creative technology transfer capability, Sen. Edgardo Angara said yesterday.

Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on science and technology, called for the promotion of a sound policy environment for the transfer and commercialization of results of government-funded research and development.

“As the world shifts into a more knowledge-based economy, we need an aggressive R&D agenda fully-funded by both public and private sectors. In fact, other countries have already set up innovation systems, which became the nucleus of their policy for economic growth,” he said.

“It has been said that strong productivity growth has been recorded in the United States, Japan and other European countries as their technological innovations sprung from high-quality research institutions,” he said.

Brazil, for an instance, has modernized its National Innovation System through a strong public R&D and industry linkage. “In this fast-emerging innovation economy, our country must indeed innovate or perish,” Angara added.

According to the 2007-2008 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranks 71st out of the 131 countries in terms of technological readiness or ability to adopt technology from home or abroad to enhance the productivity of its industries. Singapore was ranked 7th, Japan 8th, Korea 11th, Hong Kong 12th, Malaysia 21st and Thailand 28 th.

To remedy the situation, Angara sponsored the Technology Transfer Act of 2007, which aims to create a support system for an effective use, management and commercialization of intellectual property resulting from government-funded R&D with the needs of the government to disseminate, diffuse and transfer economically relevant knowledge and technologies.

Under the measure, ownership of intellectual property generated from government-funded research shall be vested on the research development institute.

Ex-NPA rebel slain on New Year's Eve

BOTOLAN,ZAMBALES, January 1 - A former NPA rebel returnee was shot to death by a still unidentified gunman while sitting at the Mariposa Park town plaza on New Year's eve.

Police identified the victim as Marcelo Cabalic alias "Celo", 25, single and resident of Loobbunga.

Reports disclosed that the victim suffered a gunshot wound in his pancreas and left lung which caused his instant death.

The victim is reportedly a former NPA rebel and at present the leader of a syndicate crime group involved in cattle rustling with the Bonnet gang operating in Zambales and Western Pangasinan.

Planting trees to stave off global warming

By: Shanahan Chua - Journal Online

AL Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” has fired up global awareness and discussions on the critical issue of Climate Change. Over the years, we have seen and felt the adverse effects of global warming, as we experience worsening storms and unpredictable weather patterns. With the heightened awareness on climate change, peoples of all nations are taking action to mitigate the degradation of the environment and aspire for sustainability.

Unilever Philippines has taken up the mantle of pro-actively addressing Climate Change through various environmental activities, notable of which is its .partnership with ABS-CBN Foundation - Bantay Kalikasan in the reforestation of La Mesa Watershed.

Unilever’s first step to partner with Bantay Kalikasan was made in 2001 with the adoption of 50 hectares of forest land. Twenty-five (25) more hectares were added in 2004 in celebration of Unilever’s 75th year of manufacturing and marketing operations in the Philippines. In 2007, 25 hectares were adopted additionally, with the Memorandum of Agreement being signed by Unilever Chairman-CEO Sanjiv Mehta and Ms. Regina Paz Lopez, Managing Director of ABS-CBN Foundation, in a symbolic program at the La Mesa Eco-Park.

The adoption of 100 hectares of the forest land, a significant contribution to the rehabilitation of that strategic fresh water resource for Metro Manila, was capped with 120 managers conducting a tree-planting activity in the La Mesa Watershed.

This watershed, consisting of 2,000 hectares of land surrounding a 700-hectare reservoir, is spread out over portions of Quezon City, Caloocan City and Montalban, Rizal, and is critical to the pre-eminence and development of Mega-Manila in Philippine economic and social life.

La Mesa Dam, which can store up to 50.5 million cubic meters and through which 1.5 million liters pass through everyday for filtration and ultimate distribution to households and industries, is a vital link to the freshwater requirements of 11.3 million people (6.2 million served by Maynilad Water in the West Zone and 5.1 million served by Manila Water in the East Zone) in Mega-Manila.

Seventy-three (73) Philippine endemic tree species have been planted in the La Mesa forest by volunteers from various industries, institutions and individuals. So far, the planted trees have manifested a survival rate of 92.5 %. It is expected that once fully forested, the 100 hectares adopted by Unilever will have a total of 40,000 trees standing tall in the area.

For the tree-planting program, seedlings of the Ipil, Banaba, Molave, Narra and Kupang trees - all Philippine hardwood species that are expected to have a life of 100 years — were prepared. These indigenous species have much better chance to develop over the years, inasmuch as they have adapted to local climatic conditions.

It is noteworthy to state that carbon sequestration of planted species at La Mesa is being measured by Korean scientists, in a cooperative venture being undertaken by Bantay Kalikasan, College of Forestry of the University of the Philippines in Los Banos and the South Korean Government. The scientists’ report is being finalized.

Trees — First Line of Defence against Climate Change

Time Magazine in its Global Warming issue in April 2007 suggested the planting of more trees in the tropics to prevent the worsening of climate change. This is a direction validated by climate scientists, who distinguished the action in tropical regions from planting trees in high-latitude/temperate locations. Trees are important tools in the fight to stave off global warming because they absorb and store the key greenhouse gas before the latter has a chance to reach the upper atmosphere where it can trap the heat around the Earth’s surface.

In essence, trees, as kings of the plant world, have much more “woody biomass” to store carbon dioxide. As a result, trees are considered nature’s most efficient “carbon sinks.”

In Zerofootprint, blogger Ron Dembo said “...we’ve got inexpensive, environmentally friendly, beautiful carbon machines with ancillary benefits at our disposal right now...I call them trees. We know they work, as they are already storing billion tons of carbon — ...more than what is currently in the atmosphere, heating up the planet. Not only that, they breathe out oxygen as part of the process of photosynthesis. In fact, every ton of sequestered carbon means two tons of oxygen (had been) released into the atmosphere. Moreover, these carbon machines provide habitat for flora and fauna, protect watersheds and release water into the atmosphere to help regulate rainfall patterns.”

As Unilever gears up towards implementing its Environmental Road Map, I suggest we keep in mind that each of us has a role to play in the protection of our environment. We can all do our part in minimizing our carbon footprint, as we support the mission to “To become a lead and role model for SLOWING, STOPPING and then REVERSING the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.”

(Shanahan Chua is Corporate Social Responsibility Communications Manager of Unilever Philippines.)

Angara to DepEd: Clarify P26.5-B cyber-education

By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal Online
SENATOR Edgardo Angara wants the Department of Education to clarify the content of the lectures and presentations that will be aired simultaneously in different public schools nationwide under the P26.5 billion Cyber-Education program.

He earlier raised concerns over the method in delivering basic education services to elementary and high school students under the proposed Cyber-Ed Project.

“I am not against educational technology but we must scrutinize this very closely because no studies have yet been made regarding the effectiveness of TV-based instruction in basic education,” Angara stressed.

He earlier called for a Senate inquiry into the Cyber-Education Project, citing the “indecent haste” of its implementation and the serious doubts about its relevance and cost-effectiveness.

Under this project, a total of 37,794 schools or 90 percent of all public schools nationwide will be connected in the next three years. These schools will receive live broadcasts featuring lectures and presentations from master teachers as well as coursewares on demand and other valuable resource materials.

He also questioned the benefits of TV-based education to children ages six to ten. “That age group needs teacher contact because if the students have questions or reservations, the teachers can answer them, and this can only be done if they are present inside the classroom,” Angara said.

He said that students of this age group may also find it hard to comprehend the lessons and lectures by just watching TV. He said that distance education is only suitable for above literate students since they can already understand the instructions quickly.

“My other concern is the cost-effectiveness of this program, it is hard to find teachers who can sufficiently explain in simple terms the concepts found in subjects like social science, home economics, Philippine history etc.,” he said.

“There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed by the DepEd before we can introduce this project. We have to pilot test it first, if the results are favorable, then we can expand it,” he said.

Angara added: “Finally, there’s this question of priority, we must first address the current classroom shortage, recruit more bright teachers, train and re-train teachers, and acquire desks and textbooks.”

However, he did not rule out the possibility of implementing Cyber Education in the future, saying that once they have decided the content and the delivery, and if studies show that the children can learn through distance education, this project might be one of the solutions to the country’s educational crisis.