Lapid wants nationwide gadget donation, recycling program to help poor students

Robie de Guzman   •   September 25, 2020   •   266

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Lito Lapid on Friday said he has filed a bill seeking to establish an “ electronics donation and recycling program” that aims to help students from poor families have tablets and mobile phones needed for distance learning education amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Under Senate Bill No. 1846, Lapid proposes to mandate manufacturers and retailers of electronic gadgets to set up donation and recycling booths in their sales outlets and service centers for the purpose of processing and accepting old electronic devices like laptops and mobile phones that owners want to donate or recycle.

“Maraming mga estudyante at guro ang walang magamit na cellphone o computer habang nasa online classes tayo dahil sa pandemya,” he said in a statement.

“Nag-aalala tayo na ang kawalan ng gadget kasama na ang problema sa internet sa bansa ay maaring maging dahilan para di na lamang tumuloy sa pag-aaral ang ating mga kabataan sa panahong ito ng pandemya kung saan pinatutupad ang distance learning,” he added.

“Maiibsan sana ang kawalang ito ng ating mga mag-aaral kung may magdodonate lamang ng kanilang lumang gadget na gumagana pa naman,” he further stated.

Citing a 2020 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Lapid said only 69% of poor households have mobile phones, while only 1% and 6% of poor and low-income families have computers, respectively.

A University of the Philippines study also found that by the year 2021, the number of discarded phones will hit over 24.9 million.

Respondents of the study said they were replacing phones at a rate of once every one to two years.

Under the proposal, gadgets collected from booths that are intended for donation will be forwarded to the Department of Education for distribution to poor students; while the devices intended for recycling will be turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-accredited facilities capable of recycling electronic gadgets and its components.

Aside from helping poor students cope with distance learning, Lapid said the measure also seeks to protect the environment by reducing electronic wastes.

“Dalawang mahalagang layunin ang magagampanan ng panukalang ito– protektahan ang ating kalikasan sa pamamagitan ng pagbawas sa pagtapon ng mga lumang electronic devices habang malaking tulong ang inaasahang matatanggap ng mga kapos-palad nating mga estudyante mula sa donasyong gadgets ng ating mga kababayang hangad ding makatulong sa panahong ito ng matinding pagsubok,” he said.

Schools urged to strictly enforce health protocols, alternative work set up for teachers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on public school officials to strictly enforce health protocols and alternative work arrangements laid out by the Department of Education (DepEd) to protect teachers and non-teaching staff from possible coronavirus disease infection.

In a statement, Gatchalian said this is to prevent the uptick of COVID-19 cases now that teachers and other school personnel are expected to be out in the field to carry out their tasks and distribute modules to students.

The senator made the call after 10 high school teachers in Ilagan City, Isabela reportedly tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after attending a meeting.

Two students were also reported to have contracted the virus.

Ilagan City is under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until Oct. 16.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education said the incident in Ilagan City should remind public school authorities to ensure the safety of their personnel.

They should equip their personnel with back-to-school essentials such as masks, face shields, and personal protective equipment (PPE). The health care needs of teachers and staff infected with COVID-19 should also be given immediate attention.

“Ngayong nagsimula na ang klase, lalo nating dapat tutukan ang kalusugan ng bawat guro at non-teaching staff lalo na’t sila ang nagsisilbing mga frontliners sa pagpapatupad ng distance learning sa gitna ng pandemya,” Gatchalian said.

He also said that since classes are in full swing, an arrangement between DepEd and PhilHealth should already be operational to inspire and sustain the confidence in the roll-out of distance learning program.

“Kailangang siguruhin natin ang kanilang kaligtasan sa kanilang pagtatrabaho at kung sakali namang tamaan sila ng sakit, dapat matiyak natin na makatatanggap sila ng agarang tulong medikal,” he said.

DepEd Order No. 011 s. 2020 identifies alternative work arrangements such as work-from-home, skeleton workforce, four-day workweek, and staggered working hours.

In areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), schools and DepEd offices may operate at full operational capacity as may be allowed by required health standards, including physical distancing protocols.

In areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) like Metro Manila, however, personnel reporting physically for work should not exceed 50 percent.

To help with early detection of possible COVID-19 cases, DepEd’s required health standards, which are outlined in DepEd Order No. 014 s. 2020, mandate schools and offices to have a provision of referral services that will link learners, teachers, and personnel to the appropriate health facilities.

Under its required health standards, DepEd is also tasked to coordinate with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and work out a possible institutional arrangement.

Lapid bill seeks lifetime validity of IDs for persons with permanent disability

Robie de Guzman   •   September 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Lito Lapid on Friday said he has filed a bill seeking to remove the “unnecessary burden” for persons with disabilities (PWD) who are required to renew their identification cards every three years.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1795, Lapid proposes to amend Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons to provide a lifetime validity of identification cards issued to persons with permanent disabilities.

Currently, PWDs are required to have their IDs renewed to re-evaluate the entitlement of the holder to the benefits pertaining to their status as person with disability. This is to ensure that the information contained in their IDs reflects the holder’s current disability status.

But Lapid said this re-evaluation does not apply to PWDs with a permanent disability such as pre-existing birth defects, permanent blindness or deafness, loss of limb or body parts.

The senator said requiring such PWDs to renew their ID every three years is “superfluous, burdensome and a waste of government resources.”

He stressed that giving the PWDs with permanent disability a lifetime validity for their PWD ID will spare them the inconvenience of going back to the issuing offices every three years, filling up the renewal forms, falling in line and paying fees and charges, when no changes have occurred as to their disability status.

“Marapat lamang na bigyan ng mas malawak na pang-unawa at konsiderasyon ang mga kababayan nating may kapansanan. Kaya dapat lang na tulungan natin silang mapagaan ang ilang gawain gaya na lamang ng pagkakaroon ng PWD ID para masigurong meron silang sapat na benepisyo at pribilehiyo,” Lapid said in a statement.

“Hindi na sila dapat pahirapan pang i-renew ang kanilang PWD ID lalo na kung ang kapansanan nila ay panghabang-buhay na,” he added.

Under the bill, PWDs with permanent disability must be certified by the municipal or city health officer where the ID holder resides.

The issuing offices should also implement measures to ensure that the lifetime validity of the identification cards is not abused, especially when the ID holder dies.

Lapid called on his fellow lawmakers to immediately pass the bill, noting that it is part of the government’s duty to provide for the needs of the PWDs.

“Tungkulin ng ating gobyerno na tulungan ang ating mga kababayan lalo na ang mga nasa sektor na may higit na pangangailangan gaya ng mga may kapansanan. Maliit na bagay kung tutuusin na siguruhing hindi na mahihirapan pang mag-renew ng PWD ID ang mga kapatid nating panghabang-buhay na ang kundisyon. Kaya hiling ko na agad itong matalakay sa Senado at maipasa bilang batas,” he said.

Gatchalian wants probe on quality of DepEd’s lessons for distance learning

Robie de Guzman   •   August 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for a Senate inquiry on the content of lessons to be used by the Department of Education (DepEd) for its distance learning program.

Gatchalian issued the statement on Friday after DepEd drew criticisms over some of its episodes containing grammatical and typographical errors.

DepEd started its test broadcast of television episodes on state-run Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13) and Solar Learning. However, photos showing a Grade 8 lesson went viral as netizens slammed what some described as “painful” errors in the lesson.

While DepEd already acknowledged the errors and vowed to make improvements on its TV broadcast content, Gatchalian stressed that quality control should not be compromised amid the rush to make learning resources available when classes open.

“We’ll probably have another hearing on the content aspect of distance learning because quality control is very important,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, reiterated that the reach of television makes it a viable tool for distance learning, especially for those who have no available internet connectivity.

Citing information from Dataxis, a global firm specializing in telecom and media business, he said 18.7 million Filipino households have television in 2019, a number that is expected to increase to 20.7 million by 2024.

The lawmaker added that since not all parents can teach their children at home because some of them have not completed schooling, teachers can guide learners through recorded lessons for television. Parents, on the other hand, can ensure that their children are focused on studying.

He noted that some local government units (LGU) have already partnered with local television stations to broadcast recorded lessons.

He cited as an example a local cable service provider in Luna, Isabela which provided two channels for the province’s ‘TV-Eskwela’. One channel will be used for elementary while the other will be for high school learners.

Isabela City in Basilan has also forged a partnership with a local cable service provider to put up ‘TELEdukasyon’.

Under the partnership, the P1,500 cable installation fee is waived and parents will just have to pay for the P350 subscription fee monthly, which gives them access to three channels dedicated to distance learning.

“Sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon ngayong panahon ng krisis, hindi lang ang pag-abot sa ating mga mag-aaral ang dapat nating pinag-uusapan. Mahalagang tutukan natin kung paano masisigurong dekalidad ang edukasyon na natatanggap nila kahit na sila ay nasa mga tahanan nila,” Gatchalian said.

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