Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said the country should prioritize fixing the education crisis before it is too late for the nation.
“Nangangamba ako na magkaroon tayo ng malaking malaking crisis because of the education crisis. Nag-add tayo ng two years para maging K-to-12, pero marami sa urban areas ngayon ay half-day [classes] na lang, so maiiwan tayo,” Cayetano said in an interview before the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives on July 24.
Responding to reporters’ questions on what he was hoping to hear from the President, Cayetano focused on education and said the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the learning crisis in the country.
“Naiwan na tayo nung last three years dahil panay modular, mahina internet natin, ‘tsaka nahirapan tayo sa distance learning. Pero kapag hindi natin maayos na mabalik ng whole day ang pasukan, at ang ginawa natin ay nagbawas na lamang sa curriculum, magigising na lang tayo 10 years from now na naunahan na tayo ng maliliit na bansa sa South East Asia,” he said.
Cayetano said in the short term, he hopes the government will see to it that millions of Filipinos are helped with their livelihood and economic development.
“(In the) short term [kailangan talaga ang pagtulong] sa livelihood, ang pagkalat ng pera sa sulok-sulok na lugar sa bansa,” he said.
He said the government can be more methodological in its distribution of assistance to aid families across the country, especially those in the grassroots.
“Ito pong ayuda, kung gagawin itong mas methodological at mabibigyan ang bawat pamilya at probinsya, iikot talaga ang pera,” he said.
“May pera ang gobyerno, at may magagandang programa, how to get it to the grassroots. Kasi nga dalawa ang Pilipinas – isang sobrang maasenso, gumaganda ang buhay at negosyo, pero ‘yung kabila na talagang hirap na hirap na talaga,” he added.
Cayetano said in the immediate sense, the government needs to strike a good balance amid the worldwide rise of inflation.
“Kahit anong ganda ng performance, pero kung mahirap ang buhay, at ‘yung presyo pataas nang pataas, marami pa rin ang nag-aapply ng trabaho, tapos maliit ang kita, ang tingin ko talagang y’ung challenge ay malaki. Y’ung grades at sipag [ng gobyerno], nandiyan naman talaga, pero y’ung challenge ay worldwide,” he said.
He said this is especially difficult with the recent escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with Russia threatening to attack ships carrying grains from Ukraine after an important bridge linking it with Crimea was damaged.
More recently, drone attacks by Russia damaged critical port infrastructure in southern Ukraine, including grain and oil terminals, crippling significant parts of export facilities in Odesa and nearby Chornomorsk and destroying 60,000 tons of grain, according to Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry.
“Mayroon na namang problema sa Ukraine sa wheat, so tataas uli ang presyo ng pagkain around the world, and then ‘yung production natin hindi masyadong tumataas,” he said.
Still, Cayetano remained optimistic about the future, joining the millions of Filipinos who feel the government is doing all it can to hurdle the obstacles.
“There’s a general hopefulness I think. Parang ang bibigat ng problema pero may feeling na we’re very hopeful na kayang solusyonan,” he said. ###