Department of Education

‘Nahirapan akong pumili’: Marcos needs more time to choose new DepEd chief

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‘Nahirapan akong pumili’: Marcos needs more time to choose new DepEd chief

AID FOR CARAGA. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaks before local officials and beneficiaries of a government aid program in Butuan City on Thursday, June 20, 2024.

Butuan City PIO

'It turns out it's harder than I thought because we absolutely have to get it right,' President Marcos says of the selection process

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. admitted on Saturday, June 29, that he was having difficulty choosing the next Department of Education (DepEd) secretary given the demands of the job and the “valid concerns” raised by various stakeholders.

Two days earlier, Marcos told the media that he would announce his new education chief by the end of the week or by Sunday, June 30, implying that he already had someone in mind for the position vacated by Vice President Sara Duterte just the past week. 

On Saturday, in a media interview after his Partido Federal ng Pilipinas forged an alliance with the National Unity Party, he said he had to give himself “more time” to decide.

Asked about his choice for DepEd chief, Marcos said: “It turns out it’s harder than I thought because we absolutely have to get it right. So I’m giving myself more time.”

“As I told you before, we have to see, really, what the DepEd needs. Of course, there are many calls for the new secretary to be an educator. There are many calls for the new secretary to be an administrator. There are new calls for a historical professor. All of these, and they are all valid concerns. That’s what education is all about,” he added.

Marcos said he had been poring over “so many CVs” of potential candidates for the Cabinet vacancy.

“We have to choose somebody who has an understanding of what is important in terms of being an educator. But then we also have to find – the same person has to have those qualities that can galvanize this very, very large democracy, which is the DepEd, and to achieve all of those gains, or all of those changes, to make the educational standard better,” he said.

Later on, he said, “Sa madaling sabi, oo nahirapan akong pumili dahil napaka-komplikado ng trabaho ng DepEd (In short, yes, I’m having a hard time choosing because the DepEd’s job is very complicated).”

What could have happened between his Thursday and Saturday media interviews? On Thursday, it was Marcos himself who shared that he was likely to name a new education secretary “by the end of the week.”

“We cannot leave it open. Importante ‘yung trabaho nila. We cannot just leave it like that na nakatiwangwang doon… na walang secretary. Kaya’t minamadali ko lahat,” Marcos said then.

(They [Department of Education] have an important job. We cannot just leave it like that hanging…without a secretary. So I’m rushing everything.)

By Saturday, however, he apparently realized that the DepEd appointment is something that cannot be rushed. He also said that they were “always looking at the test scores,” apparently referring to the continued low scores of Filipino students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

“We have to bring up the test scores. We all know that. So you need an educator who understands how to help the students, how to help the teachers, number one. So, there are many people who understand that, who are experts, really, in the education sector. But then, how do you achieve that?  That requires a very good hand on the pillar of the DepEd, who can manage it properly, who understands the bureaucracy, who understands how to use the budget properly, all of these things,” he said.

Filipino students ranked very low in global learning assessments when Sara Duterte helmed DepEd. Still, Marcos, on Saturday, thanked her for “the effort that she put in” as education secretary.

“There’s a great deal more work to be done, and we’ll find the right person for it,” Marcos said, a statement that makes one wonder about the current state of the education sector if he had been as meticulous in choosing his DepEd chief from the start.

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Asked how many people were on his short list, the President said he didn’t have one so he could have more elbow room. The Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) has recommended to Marcos Senator Sonny Angara, Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian, Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Kiko Benitez, and Synergeia Foundation president Milwida Guevara.

“I’m not going to let you tie me down to anything. We’re looking at everyone. We don’t make a shortlist. Every time somebody – I know people myself, na sa palagay ko kaya nila ang trabaho (who I think can do the job), and many people come to me and say, ‘Why don’t you think about this fellow, why don’t you think about this maestra (teacher)?’” he said.

But in any important government vacancy, more names equal more lobbying, and there may even be the 2025 midterm and 2028 elections at play. – Mia M. Gonzalez/

1 comment

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  1. ET

    President Marcos Jr. does need more time to choose the new DepEd chief. Many lobbyists have conflicting interests, hence the greater number of proposed nominees. However, President Marcos Jr. does not have the required intellectual acuity and effective leadership to make a quick and final decision.

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