Marcos Jr. administration

Sonny Angara named as new education secretary

Bonz Magsambol

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Sonny Angara named as new education secretary


(3rd UPDATE) Malacañang says Senator Sonny Angara will assume the position on July 19

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. named Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara as the new secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), effective July 19.

Sonny Angara named as new education secretary

Angara, whose Senate term was supposed to end in 2025, will replace Vice President Sara Duterte, who resigned as DepEd chief on June 19.

A press release from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) on Tuesday, July 2, said Marcos made the announcement during a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang, although Angara was not present during the meeting.

“Sonny has agreed to take on the brief of the Department of Education,” Marcos said, as quoted by the PCO.

The PCO said key educational organizations had endorsed Angara for DepEd chief, including the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations and the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities.

Angara was also among those recommended by Philippine Business for Education to Marcos, along with Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian, Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Kiko Benitez, and Synergeia Foundation president Milwida Guevara.

“DepEd is arguably the most important department given the crucial role of education,” said Marcos.

In a statement on Tuesday, Angara thanked Marcos for choosing him to lead the DepEd. 

“This significant responsibility is one I accept with humility and a profound sense of duty,” he said. 

“I am committed to working with all sectors of society, including my predecessor, Vice President Sara Duterte, to ensure that every Filipino child has access to quality education. I look forward to building upon her accomplishments,” Angara added.

Marcos was supposed to announce his choice for DepEd chief over the weekend, but he said on Saturday, June 29, that he needed “more time” to choose, given the demands of the job and the “valid concerns” raised by various stakeholders.

Senate President Chiz Escudero had earlier endorsed Angara’s appointment as education secretary.

“I was one of the first, if not the first, to actually recommend him to become the DepEd secretary given his competence, given his track record, given his experience,” Escudero said in a chance interview with reporters on Monday, July 1.

Escudero earlier said, in response to questions, that there might be no need to replace Angara in the Senate since his term is ending in less than a year anyway. (READ: What happens when a lawmaker gets appointed to the Cabinet?)

“I think that it should not be filled up because holding a special election will incur cost. So I think we’ll just wait for his term to expire. There will only be 23 sitting senators,” the Senate President had said.

Commission on Elections Chairman George Garcia said on Tuesday that Angara’s Senate seat will remain vacant “unless there is a call from the Senate to call for a special election.” 

Gargantuan task

Angara 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.

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Angara, the son of the late Senate president and educator Edgardo Angara, began his political career as Aurora congressman from 2004 to 2013. During his time at the House of Representatives, he was also active in advocating for education and welfare of Filipino youth. He was a co-author of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 or the K to 12 program in the lower chamber.

Angara was first elected as a senator in 2013. He authored bills concerning the education sector, among others. He was a commissioner of the Second Congressional Commission on Education or EDCOM 2, which aims to address education woes.

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

“The DepEd and EDCOM 2 will work hand-in-hand in reviewing the K to 12 program and come out with recommendations to improve the curriculum, which the DepEd has found to be congested, that some prerequisites of identified essential learning competencies are missing or misplaced, and that a significant number of learning competencies cater to high cognitive demands,” Angara said in his Manila Bulletin column in April 2023.

Under her watch, Sara Duterte began the review of the K to 12 curriculum amid growing clamor from the public to either revise it or scrap it. She had committed to make the program “relevant to produce competent, job-ready, active, and responsible citizens.” The review was not yet done at the time of her resignation.

Angara, a lawyer like the Vice President, earned his undergraduate degree in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1994. He obtained his law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 2000 and his Master of Laws degree at Harvard Law School in 2003. – with a report from Dwight de Leon/

1 comment

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  1. BM

    What is required is simple enough – declutter the curriculum and a return to the basics – reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and critical/creativity thinking. And ironically, Angara’s first huge task is to depoliticize DepED and tell all politicians to back off.

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.