House of Representatives’ Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez led 17 lawmakers in urging the Department of Budget and Management to release the remaining P7.59 billion scholarship funds of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Romualdez, chair of the powerful House committee on rules, cited the importance to ensure the continuity of scholarship program for the poor but deserving students as the Philippines’ battles coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.
House Resolution 1201 directs the DBM to release the balances of appropriations and/or allotment for the TESDA’s scholarship programs amounting to P7, 598, 736,000.
“The P7, 598, 736,000 under Republic Act No. 11465 (General Appropriations Act of 2020), is expected to serve 266, 938 enrolled individuals,” the lawmakers said.
They said that the scholarship program should be fully implemented “in order to support a wide magnitude of affected workers and enterprises due to economic slowdown, closure of establishments, and the expected influx of returning overseas Filipino workers.”
The legislators led by Romualdez filed the resolution in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order “to increase the effort of all government agencies to alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly to assist returning OFWs and displaced Filipino workers and enterprises.”
Other lawmakers who authored the resolution were Reps. Alfredo Garbin Jr. and Elizaldy Co of AKO Bicol; Luis Campos Jr. of Makati City; Manuel Antonio Zubiri of Bukidnon; Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong of Negros Oriental; David Suarez of Quezon; Teodorico Haresco Jr. of Aklan; Ferdinand Gaite of Bayan Muna; Argel Cabatbat Magsasaka; Deputy Speaker Dan Fernandez of Laguna; Manuel Jose Dalipe of Zamboanga City; Wes Gatchalian of Valenzuela; Julienne Baronda of Iloilo City; Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. of Manila, and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan.
In a related development, Deputy Speaker for Finance and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte batted for more schools nationwide for children with special needs.
In Villafuerte’s HB 7632, he proposed that at least one learning center for children with special needs should be established by the government in each school division in the country to ensure the access to education of CSNs despite their poverty. CSNs are among the most neglected groups of people in the country, he added.
“This bill seeks to provide our children with special needs the opportunity to be educated in the best available environment with the right education that meets their specific needs,” said Villafuerte, who represents Camarines Sur’s second district.
He said for big school divisions, at least three of these special education centers should be set up in regular schools where there are no existing SPED centers “in order to meet the goal of affording children with special needs the right to education as
enshrined in the 1987 Constitution and the international convention on the rights of children.”
Citing data from the Departments of Social Welfare and Development and the Health, Villafuerte said there are about 4,124,833 persons with disabilities in the country, 21 percent of whom are children from 0 to 19 years of age.
Of this number, only seven percent have access to educational opportunities, given that poverty and physical distance from schools have hindered most of them from gaining access to education.
Most often, private institutions that offer services for CSNs are too expensive and inaccessible, Villafuerte said.
Under HB 7632, each SPED center shall have an assistant principal; early intervention programs; monitoring, supervision and provision of technical assistance, training and enhancement programs to SPED personnel; and a placement committee to formulate, implement and oversee referral and placement procedures for CSNs.
The administrative core and placement committee shall consist of an educational psychologist or psychometrician; 1 physical therapist: 1 occupational therapist; 1 speech and language therapist speech correction teacher, and an education supervisor, the bill said.
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