Local Roundup: 2 million pupils enrol in new learning

  • 2 million pupils enrol in new learning
  • Senators: Taxes to fund programs
Around two million students have enrolled under multiple learning modalities laid down by the Department of Education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said Thursday.

She told the Senate Committee on Basic Education hearing that DepEd officials were able to register 36.26 percent of students in public and private schools nationwide during the past eight days.

Briones gave assurances there would be no face-to-face teaching but they would use the new technology so the students would not stop going to school.

During the launch of the Brigada Eskwela, officials asked for gadgets like desktop and cellphones as donations instead of school chairs, ballpens and bond papers.

No funds

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said their proposal for a stand-by authority should be welcomed by the Executive Department, adding “It gives them the authority to spend for better health infrastructure, protect jobs, provide relief to workers who lost their jobs and credit to businesses...”

The Senate leader said it could be funded by an increase in duties, which they have done for oil, new revenue sources, borrowings, realignment and repurchase agreements with the central bank, among others.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said “we cannot squeeze blood from a turnip,” adding “No matter what amount Congress wants to push to stimulate the economy, without an accompanying revenue measure or a certification from the national treasurer that the money actually exists, a supplemental budget cannot be passed into law.”

Having said that, Lacson noted that the funds may be sourced from loans, both domestic and foreign.

Illegal entry

The Customs-Ninoy Aquino International Airport collection district continued to work 24/7 to man the port against the illegal entry of contraband, and facilitate the release of COVID-19 related shipments despite the threat of the deadly disease.

The port was commended for its vigilance in drug seizures. To date, it busted 82 smuggled shipments of prohibited drugs and other contraband.

Just recently, a contraband from Fujian, China was intercepted at a warehouse near the airport. The shipment was misdeclared as “vitamin pills” and consigned to a male individual from Muntinlupa City.

Another shipment of smuggled Chinese medicines was also intercepted by Customs agents at a warehouse near NAIA on May 8. The shipment of four kilos of Chinese medicines from Taiwan was sent through air cargo in one of the warehouses in Pasay City and was also misdeclared as $15 worth of “plastic boxes.”

Economic recovery

The government must seize the opportunity to boost its economic recovery projects with highly skilled workers by recruiting overseas Filipino workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Imee Marcos said.

Marcos called on the Department of Labor and Employment to immediately inventory the skills sets of OFWs who have returned from abroad, to find out where they can best be used by the government.

“We help ourselves by helping our OFWs. They have value-added knowledge and skills plus a solid work ethic that can improve government efficiency and boost development in the countryside where many of them have returned,” Marcos said.

“We have seamen with leadership experience in handling different nationals, construction workers abreast of the latest building techniques, health workers familiar with advances in medical research and technology, master electricians with new knowledge on fire prevention, urban planners who have learned to combine function with greater environmental awareness,” she added.

Operations suspended

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will temporarily suspend its operations effective Sunday, June 14, after six of its officers and staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa reported that effective Sunday, all POLO officers and staff would be on a work-from-home arrangement but would still respond to calls, offer consulting services to clients, and provide counseling to OFWs in distress on a 24/7 basis.

“The objective of the temporary suspension is to prevent the escalation of infection among POLO staff and its clients and to allow the conduct of a thorough disinfection of the office premises,” Mustafa said.

Long-term response

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has created a task force that shall administer and implement long-term response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an executive order, she tasked Dr. Esperanza Arias, city health officer, to be the co-chairperson of Task Force COVID-19.

She believes the battle against COVID-19 could extend well beyond 2020, saying the institutionalization of a task force is needed to coordinate all the city government’s efforts against the deadly virus.

“Health authorities advise that the battle against COVID-19 will likely take a number of years, considering the tenacity of the disease and the time it will take to discover and distribute a vaccine,” her order read.

Topics: Leonor Briones , Department of Education , COVID-19 pandemic
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