KORINA TODAY on ABSCBN News ("men of the hour, flavors of the month") interviewed incoming Education Secretary Rep. Jesli Lapus (NPC, Tarlac, Chair of House Ways and Means Cmte, once president of Land Bank and previously USec of Agrarian Reform.) Dry as bone, though he gamely denies it "after office hours", Lapus also gave a humorous self-description: he finds it ironic he says, that people used to tell him he wouldn't do well in politics because he was such a technocrat, but now they say he won't be any good in Education because he is such a politician. Maybe this reveals a "can-do" self-confidence with a "just-you-wait" attitude at the kibitzers. Or maybe it was just a clever line he dreamt up, but he deserves benefit of the doubt to try and do some good. He claims to be a manager at heart, and doesn't like having been stereotyped as a finance type. Well he's gonna need the experience dealing with people since he takes over the largest single bureaucracy in the government, with over half a million employees, (not all of whom are teachers by a long shot). There is however, very little else to Deped aside from the teachers, principals, administrators, analysts, supervisors, superintendents, reviewers, secretaries over and under, and the rest of the government employees that make it up. Most of the public schools don't even have reliable water or electricity, so forget about computers and books. Despite double and triple shifting the facilities, classes are even held in bathrooms and out-of-doors. Of course there is an ever increasing number of students flocking to the "free" public school system. But it is little wonder that Deped is almost all employees and not much else. Just look at how the budget is divided among Salaries ("Personal Services"), Monthly Overhead and Operating Expenses, and Capital Outlays. The teensy weensy sliver is the School Building program. And that was cut in half from last year! Probably to make room for the Opus Dei inspired Values Education module that now suffuses the Philippine Education Learning Competencies of the Basic Education Curriculum documents like incense on Maundy Thursday.
WHAT'S A BUDGET FOR? Asked about this highly illogical 85%-11%-4% split of the Deped's 9-figure budget, Jesli Lapus gave the stock answer that seems to be the graveyard for any criticism of the Deped--"We aren't spending enough on education."
He states forthrightly that the portion going to salaries is "fixed". How right he is! Under the 2006 budget Deped would get P119 billion or so and spend, as shown about P101 billion on themselves in salaries. If the 2005 budget is re-enacted Deped would get about P112 billion for a budget. But they would still spend the same P101 billion on paying themselves! In other words, The ED in DepED is not Education but "EmployeD". But Jesli Lapus does not seem to be clueless. He mentions the scandalous situation, recently exposed, that 70% of high school science teachers are not science majors! (And how about the English teachers who can't speak English?). I think that if he is as good a manager as he claims to be, he will realize a few weeks into the job that he's running Fedex with half a million drivers, but no trucks, planes, phones, computers or even hand-doillies to help in the delivering of packages. And when the truck drivers union wants to hire more truck drivers, BEFORE investing in any trucks or computers, he might even get kicked out unless he complies. Likewise, the Deped employees cannot be denied their P101 billion in salaries. It's the Law since they are civil service eligibles.
So the bad news for Secretary Lapus is that not only does he have practically nothing but employees, he can't get rid of any of them in order to buy class rooms, computers, libraries, laboratories, speech and AV equipment, Internet connections, or yeah, lights and running water for the students.
Why? Because we "aren't spending enough?" No, we aren't spending the P150 billion total (Deped + Ched) in a rational manner. We are spending it in what we think is an idealistic or altruistic manner, substituting pious handwringing for what is really a self-defeating trap that ends with the inutile bleat "We aren't spending enough on education."
I claim this: get rid of all the SUBJECTS in the curriculum that don't teach Math, Science, English, Pilipino or Social Studies, and Mr. Secretary, at least 15 billion pesos will magically appear right in the middle of the present budget, and you will be the hero that will solve those alleged "resource gaps" in the basic school facilities that the STUDENTS need: classrooms, Internet, textbooks, light bulbs! (I know, I know "people power" will hound you out of the Deped, but the students will love their laptops.)
RELATED POST: Our Patriotic Curriculum and the Classroom shortage
(2130) Is JocJoc Bolante In Trouble With US Law?
Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. suggested today that the fleeing Jocjoc Bolante may be in trouble with US authorities for more than immigration violations. The report is that his visa was cancelled upon the request of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, and he is apparently being detained in a San Pedro California facility, pending the resolution of certain procedures, including a reported plea for asylum. I hear from certain people in the San Francisco Bay Area that lawyers are being recruited by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to help Jocjoc. (You know who you are--Shame on you guys!)
Strictly Politics with Pia Hontiveros had on lawyers Amado Valdez (University of the East), Harry Roque (U.P.) and Ted Laguatan, a US based Fil-am lawyer. If I didn't know Ted better, I'd swear he gave the idea for Jocjoc to apply for asylum in the US to Malacanang, given his unusual relish over the easy possibility that Jocjoc will be in the US for 3-5 years "if he has a good lawyer." Ahem. A lil shameless advertising, Ted? As usual, Ted was showing off his knowledge of the legal insider's gobbledygook in the California jurisdiction.
Dean Amado Valdez was right though, Jocjoc can run but he can't hide. And Harry Roque was enraged that Bolante would abuse the right of asylum on the part of those with real reason to seek it from the United States. He mentions the possibility I like best myself, that Bolante is being investigated by US authorities because some of the funds in the agriculture fertilizer scam involved US official development assistance programs and funds.
I'm confident that if enough Filipinos and Americans take interest in this case of possible plunder and international flight, justice will be done to Jocjoc and his handlers. It is atrocious that twobit lawyers in America can use American law to frustrate a warrant for Bolante's arrest issued by no less than the Philippine Senate. America is better than that, and we Filipinos and Americans who love both these countries will surely see to it that they are not debased by the avaricious, the corrupt and those who would use the Law to break its principles. I think Ted Laguatan is wrong. Jocjoc and everyone who has illegally helped him will be brought to Justice despite the goddamn lawyers.