education in the Philippines

‘Much-improved choice’: Groups, lawmakers hail Angara’s appointment as DepEd chief

Bonz Magsambol

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

‘Much-improved choice’: Groups, lawmakers hail Angara’s appointment as DepEd chief

File photo of Senator Sonny Angara

Angie de Silva/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) The Alliance of Concerned Teachers says it 'hopes that Senator Angara will remain to be amicable, different from his red-tagger predecessor'

MANILA, Philippines – Education groups welcomed the appointment of Senator Sonny Angara as the new secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) saying that he is a “much-improved choice.”

“ACT has known Senator Angara to be open to dialogues with teachers’ unions and organizations and consistent in his stand for increasing the salaries and improving the benefits of teachers, as well as addressing some problems of the education system,” the biggest teachers’ group said in a statement on Tuesday, July 2.

ACT also took a potshot at Vice President Sara Duterte, who had red-tagged their members when she was DepEd chief. (READ: Sara Duterte brings red-tagging to DepEd)

“ACT hopes that Sen. Angara will remain to be amicable, different from his red-tagger predecessor. We anticipate seeing him asserting some of his progressive stance on education concerns even if they run counter to the administration’s policies that only exacerbate the education crisis,” the group said.

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ACT noted that Angara will assume the DepEd leadership at a time when the Philippine education system is facing an unprecedented learning crisis.

He inherits a gargantuan problem in the education sector, including the poor performance of Filipino students in global education assessments. A World Bank report showed that 9 in 10 Filipino students aged 10 are struggling to read simple text.

“Game-changing measures are urgently needed to overturn the decline of our country’s education quality and to sufficiently capacitate the education system to perform its role in nation-building,” ACT said.

The Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), which was among those that recommended Angara’s appointment as DepEd chief, noted that the senator “authored landmark legislations in education including the Free College Law and the Free Kindergarten Law” and “He has “also served as the chairman of the Senate committee on youth, where he pushed for greater opportunities for the youth to participate in policy-making and nation-building.”

In a statement congratulating Angara, the Makati Business Club (MBC) cited the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s latest Program for International Assessment Report (PISA), where the Philippines ranked last among Association of Southeast Asian Nation members in the areas of science, reading, and mathematics.

“These results highlight the urgent need for an experienced leader who will be able to transform and revive the Philippine education system. A well educated population is key to creating a competitive workforce that will be able to keep up with rapid technological developments given the acceleration of artificial intelligence,” MBC said.

“MBC looks forward to working with Senator Angara and wishes him all the best in this critical role, to ensure that elementary and high school principals and teachers are equipped with the literacy, technical, and character skills needed to prepare Filipino children and youth to meet the challenges of the future,” it added.

Vigilance vs attempt to use DepEd for partisan politics

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) said that it would have been ideal for an educator or a member of the academic sector to get the top DepEd post – especially as there are “many qualified individuals” who meet this critera – but it respects President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s decision to tap Angara for the post.

“As we have previously stated, we are willing to work with whoever takes the role to improve the agency and education sector.  To start, we hope that the incoming secretary engages with stakeholders, especially teachers. He will encounter significant challenges, but addressing these can lead to substantial progress in our education system,” TDC said.

“Senator Angara will face formidable challenges in DepEd, and we stand ready to cooperate to overcome these for the education sector’s benefit. But, we vow to be vigilant in preventing any attempt to use DepEd for partisan politics. For now, we welcome the Senator to the Department and request a meeting with him at his earliest convenience,” it added.

TDC also presented 10 “critical areas” that Angara would have to immediately attend to, ranging from support for legislation proposing salary increases for teachers, to revising “the curriculum to align with our socio-cultural context and reinstate Philippine history in high school.”

Peer review: ‘Most qualified and acceptable’

Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros said that Angara is “one of the most qualified and acceptable DepEd Secretaries among education reform advocates.”

“Bilang nakasama at nakatrabaho, mula sa Kamara hanggang sa Senado (As someone who has worked with him, from the House to the Senate), Senator Sonny’s work as legislator and as member of EDCOM 2 speaks volumes of his commitment and aspiration for a better education sector,” she said in a statement

As EDCOM 2 commissioner, Angara promised a comprehensive review of the K to 12 program.

Senate President Chiz Escudero, who had endorsed Angara’s appointment to Marcos last week, said: “Secretary Angara’s task ahead is indeed gargantuan, but I have full confidence in his ability to lead the DepEd with excellence and integrity. His proven track record in legislative work, particularly in education reform, uniquely positions him to address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Senator Migz Zubiri said that Angara “is more than qualified to head our most important agency, with the biggest share in the national budget no less.”

“Senator Sonny brings to the DepEd his brilliant fiscal mind, being a former chair of the Senate finance panel, and his heart for our youth, being part of the EDCOM II,” Zubiri said.

‘Much-improved choice’: Groups, lawmakers hail Angara’s appointment as DepEd chief

Angara’s Senate term ends in 2025. Escudero had said that there might be no need to replace Angara since his term is ending in less than a year anyway. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    President Marcos Jr. has appointed a political ally to lead the DepEd. Senator Angara, a politician, is being questioned whether he will bring “politics” into DepEd, similar to what VP Sara has done. Being an experienced legislator but not a DepEd bureaucrat raises concerns. In any case, this situation is seen as evidence that the Political Patronage System is functioning effectively in our government.

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.