7.27.2009

PIA News Service - Sunday, July 26, 2009

PGMA outlines her accomplishments on Monday’s SONA

MANILA , July 26 (PNA) - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will outline her accomplishments and programs on education and economy during her State of the Nation Address (SONA) at about 3 p.m. Monday inside the House of the Representatives in Batasan Hills, Quezon City.

”President Arroyo will shine the spotlight on education and economy. Many young poor Filipino people will surely understand that education is key to economic recovery and a better life,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said today.

Politically, Remonde underscored President Arroyo’s SONA’s dedication to the Filipinos.
"It is a highly anticipated address—and rightly so, because for the first time the President will be giving an accounting, not just of the year past, but of her entire term of office," Remonde said.

Remonde said it would be an opportunity for her, not just to recount the very long list of achievements on her watch, but also to commend her unfinished legacy to her successor in office, and to remind Filipinos of her vision for the country that had inspired and guided her from the very start of her presidency.

"Sadly, the prophets of pessimism, as usual, are jumping at this opportunity to debase what should be an inspiring moment in our history." Remonde said.

"They will not spare us, even at this time, from their unceasing, unfounded, and unhelpful attempts to advance personal and ideological agendas, at the expense of national optimism about our prospects for the future," Remonde said.

"As always, we are confident that our people will see through this political noise and dismiss it for what it is—nothing but a charade of smoke and mirrors." he said.

"It is with the President that substance belongs, it is under her leadership that our path to economic recovery and growth has unfolded and will continue for the rest of her term," Remonde said.

According to Remonde, the Senate and the House will hold separate meetings around 10 a.m. on Monday. By 2 p.m., there will be a joint session and at 3 p.m., Mrs. Arroyo arrives for the SONA.
Mrs. Arroyo will also outline her economic measure against the Global Economic Crisis (GEC).

“We also would like the public not to misinterpret the President’s SONA for anything else. Her speech will outline her economic resiliency (ERP) program which is validated by the Moody’s Investor Service,” Remonde said.

Remonde said Moody’s Investors Service had upgraded the Philippines’ credit rating by one notch, citing the country’s healthy financial system and resilience against the impact of the global recession.

The new score is Ba3, three notches below investment grade, from the previous B1. Both are considered "speculative," but Ba1 to Ba3 scores get a better "questionable credit quality" description than the B1 to B3’s "generally poor credit quality."

Moody's also upgraded the country’s outlook from "positive" to "stable."

A "stable" outlook indicates little chance of a rating change either way within the next 12 months.

The business community wants President Arroyo to continue infrastructure spending and rally her allies in Congress to pass 12 key bills when she delivers her SONA on Monday.

Several groups also expressed concern over the House of Representatives’ plans to amend the 1987 constitution, with one particularly urging the President to dissuade supporters from doing so before her term ends next year.

"I hope she will touch on infrastructure. We expect a very lively discussion on this," Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Edgardo G. Lacson told reporters Saturday.

Lacson lauded the government for its performance so far as around 40 percent of the infrastructure projects in its midyear development plan had reportedly been completed.

"And the fact that we are not in a recession is another good indication. Peace and order is still under control ... and we have a noisy democracy," he said.

Lacson said the President should also push for the approval of 12 bills business groups listed at a Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council meeting in June.

These are the Department of Information and Communications, Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives, Free Patent to Residential Lands , Pre-Need Code, Freedom of Access to Information, Real Estate Investment Trust; and

Anti-Smuggling, Amendment of the Customs Brokers Act, Electricity Rate Reduction, Uniform Franchise Tax on Distribution Utilities, OECD Tax Compliance Amendment, and the Land Use measures.

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Executive Director Robert M. Sears called on the President to consider earlier recommendations on luring investments.

Mr. Sears, in a letter addressed to Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita, reiterated recommendations that include "passing reform legislation" and "building modern infrastructure faster," among others.

"We encourage more aggressive removal of obstacles to competitiveness," he said.
The Filipino groups offered views on how the President should address the House’s plans for charter change.

"We expect her to give a review of her performance but doesn’t mean as much to us as a statement to relinquish power and not allow amendments to the constitution before June 30, 2010 when her term ends," Makati Business Club executive director Alberto A. Lim said. (PNA)

PGMA discusses final SONA draft with educators

MANILA, July 26 (PNA) – “Education is a ticket to better life,” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said this afternoon when she met with key officials of the Presidential Task Force for Education (PTEF) in Malacañang.

Mrs. Arroyo and the PTEF discussed the final draft of her State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on Monday during this afternoon’s meeting at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room in Malacañang Palace.

In her brief opening statement, Mrs. Arroyo said “inasmuch that I can never doubt the potential of the human mind, more so the extent of what an educated human mind can do.”

”The Filipino people are skillful and talented, gifted with a superb ability to adapt instinctively to change,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

”Who among us will contest that superior intelligence plus dexterity plus unwavering character is equal to exceptional performance?,” the President said.

Mrs Arroyo said that her prime goal was to make sure that every Filipino child would grow in skill and wisdom to attain his maximum potential.

The President also delved on “Philippine Main Education Highway” She said the Education Highway was anchored on the goal of achieving a zero-dropout rate, higher participation and performance at all levels.

”I ask all and sundry that let us be on the same page this time and start moving from there,” the President told the educators present.

The President also cited the "Edukasyon para sa Kapayapaan at Kaunlaran sa Mindanao (Education for Peace and Development in Mindanao).

The meeting was attended by Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, who represented private education; Presidential Assistant for Education Undersecretary Mona Dumlao-Valisno, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Emmanuel Y. Angeles.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) director general Augusto Syjuco, Ambassador Donald Dee, Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) chairman Nicolas Lapeña and PRC commissioner Nilo Rosas.

President Arroyo has cited the education of the youth as one of the keys to the future of Mindanao.

Mrs. Arroyo said the EPDM was designed and targeted to radically uplift the lives of Mindanaons mired in poverty and trapped by armed conflict, terrorism and criminality.

The program has a five-point agenda: information and communications technology, madrasah education, peace education, Mindanao culture and history and teacher training.

It was implemented by the Office of the President, the Presidential Assistant for Education, the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The curriculum in the madaris have enriched and harmonized to make it compatible with the curriculum of the country’s formal education system.

She said this would hasten the accreditation and eventual recognition of the madrasah.
The curriculum will make the madrasah a major avenue in providing the overall educational requirements of Filipino Muslims, particularly in the armed conflict affected areas in Mindanao with special focus in the Special Zone of Peace and Development areas. (PNA)


Pacquiao leads SONA guests – Palace

MANILA, July 26 (PNA) – The Philippines’ boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny" Pacquiao is among the very important persons (VIPs) invited by Malacañang at President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives on Monday.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said most of the VIPs would be “beneficiaries" of the Arroyo administration’s programs.

”I’ll say the most prominent guest will be Pacquiao. Most of the other VIPs will be beneficiaries of government projects under Mrs. Arroyo’s watch. There will also be other visuals, including infrastructure projects. To see is to believe," Remonde said.

President Arroyo will deliver at 4 p.m. Monday her last SONA, before a joint session of Congress at the Batasan Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

Remonde also said the “Bangkang Papel boys" (paper boat boys), the three young boys whom Mrs. Arroyo presented in her first SONA in 2001, made a courtesy call to the President in Malacañang last Saturday.

During the boy’s visit, the three denied the issues raised against Mrs. Arroyo, Remonde said.

“The boys said the issues raised against the president are all lies)," he said.

Sometime in 2001, the young boys (then) from the Payatas Dumpsite in Quezon City launched paper boats where they wrote their dreams.

Through the murky waters of Pasig River, the boats found their way to Malacañang Palace, where newly installed President Gloria Arroyo has been holding office since.

The three boys were Jason Vann Banogan, Jomar Pabalan and Erwin Dolera, victims of the Payatas tragedy on July 10, 2000 that left 300 families homeless when the mountain of garbage collapsed and buried some 1000 people living near the trash heap. (PNA)


Educators hail PGMA as “Education President”
By Joel C. Atencio

MANILA, July 26 (PNA) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this afternoon was hailed as “Education President” by the Presidential Task Force for Education (PTFE) whom she met for two and a half hours in Malacañang.

The meeting was part of the Pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Arroyo.

"Mrs. Arroyo was also happy with the 16-page report of the Presidential Task Force for Education, which we submitted this afternoon,” Presidential Assistant for Education Undersecretary Mona Dumlao-Valisno told the Philippines News Agency (PNA) in a cellular phone interview.

Valisno said the 16-page report also contains the "Philippine Main Education Highway” proposal.
She said the proposed reforms focused mainly on the tertiary level and its implementation would be on two phases pursuant to the adoption of the 10+2+3 formula.

Accordingly, after the completion of 10-year basic education (six years primary and four years secondary education), students may opt to go to technical schools or take a two-year pre-university program before finally pursuing the three year specialization courses.

Under the proposed curricular reforms, the implementation of Phase I will take effect next school year (2009-2010), formalizing into a five-year program all existing courses that require licensure examinations administered by Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

The courses include Education, Nursing, Accounting, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Pharmacy.

The adoption of Phase I is also pursuant to the 10+2+3 system under the Bologna accord.

The Engineering and Architecture programs shall follow the 10+2+(3 or 4) system in accordance with the Washington Accord, Apec Registry for Engineers and Architects, and other international accrediting bodies.

Phase II, on the other hand, will take effect on school year 2010-2011 involving all four-year board and non-board programs following the 10+2+3 system.

Valisno said he already conducted consultations and orientations with officials and administrators of colleges and universities, as well as parents, students and other education stakeholders, in the country's 17 regions which he has all visited since his appointment to the post last year, except for the Caraga region.

Valisno said on Jan. 21, 2009, President Arroyo issued Executive Order 781 titled: Adopting the Recommendations and Action Plans of the Presidential Task Force for Education (PTFE) in support of the implementation of the Philippine Main Education, and for other purposes
”The vision of the Philippine Main Education Highway states that “every Filipino child is assured of the opportunity to get high quality education that will make him or her a whole person, a responsible citizen, and lead him or her to a productive well paying job or to a successful entrepreneurial venture,” Valisno said.

The Presidential Task Force for Education (PTFE) has been tasked to Assess, Plan and Monitor the Entire Educational System” is being undertaken through regular meetings of the PTFE with concerned groups in response to the growing need for greater coordination among the departments, a common approach to inter-agency issues.

The inter-agency issues include the assessment mechanisms and articulation between levels; a more harmonized approach to total education planning and resource allocation; matching of skills and jobs;

Creating network or linking programs to boost the internationalization of Philippines Education; benchmarking of best practices with other countries in engineering, architecture, teacher education, accounting, medicine, and other courses.

The challenge of the 21st century for education, according to Valisno, is taking the cue from President Arroyo’s pronouncement when she said that “the Filipino nation should take advantage of the flatness of the world and move into the first world in 20 years.”

The President made a firm commitment to truly improve the educational system towards producing a globally-competitive workforce. We are closely assessing and planning, as well as monitoring the implementation of reforms based on the following objectives and priorities
The task force primarily aims to make education as a national priority to address poverty and inequality of access to educational opportunities for every members of Filipino family;
President Arroyo’s education priorities include improve participation, enrollment, and reduce dropout rate of students/pupils in the basic education; standardization of the pre-dchool/daycare pupils (ages 5) curriculum; and

Improve the performance of students/pupils and teachers; provide more schools/classrooms, computers, books; and improve the financing of education (scholarships and student financing programs/scheme).

President Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 781 on Jan. 21, 2009, entitled “Adopting the Recommendations and Action Plan for the Implementation of the new Philippine Main Education Highway and Strengthening the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Education,” The directive adopted all the recommendations from the PCER, EDCOM and the task force into one package of education reforms. (PNA)