PH Independence Day: Robredo calls for equal opportunities for all Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   June 12, 2019   •   1782

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday called on the public to fight for equal opportunities for all Filipinos as the country celebrates the 121st Philippine Independence Day.

In her message, Robredo urged Filipinos to draw inspiration from forebearers who fought for the country’s freedom from colonizers.

“Sa paggunita natin ngayon ng ating kasarinlan, sana ay balikan natin kung paano, bilang isang lahi, ay pinili nating sundin ang sarili nating landas, magtayo ng sarili nating gobyerno at magtatag ng sariling estado,” Robredo said in her message released on Wednesday.

The Vice President underscored that in choosing freedom from foreign oppressors, Filipinos have the responsibility to establish a nation where everyone would have an opportunity to live peacefully and prosperously.

“Sa pagtutulak ng interes na ito, inako natin ang responsibilidad na gumawa ng isang lipunang malaya, makatarungan at makatao. Isang lipunan kung saan ang bawat Pilipino ay may oportunidad na mabuhay nang sagana at mapayapa,” she said.

“Hanggang sa araw na ito, nakaatang ang responsibilidad na ito sa bawat isa sa atin. Ito ang pinaglaban ng mga nauna sa atin at ito na rin ang tungkuling iniwan sa atin upang gampanan: ang masigurong nabubuhay tayo sa isang Pilipinas kung saan umaangat ang bawat isang mamamayan,” she added.

Robredo continued with: “Bilang mga lingkod bayan, nasa ating pananagutan ang pangarap na ito para sa bawat Pilipino: na lahat ay kabahagi at walang maiiwan; na lahat ay may pantay-pantay na oportunidad sa pag-unlad.”

In her message, she also gave honor to the sacrifices made by the country’s heroes.

“Kinikilala natin ang lahat ng nagsumikap at lumaban para matupad ang pangarap ng isang malayang Pilipinas, at para sa karapatan ng bawat Pilipinong panghawakan ang sarili niyang kinabulkasan,” Robredo said.

She also expressed hope that as Filipinos celebrate the country’s Independence Day, it would make them remember their love and responsibility for the Philippines and the things that could be attained through unity.

“Nawa’y pukawin ng pagdiriwang na ito ang isang malalim na pagmamahal para sa bayan, at maging paalala s abawat isa ng kung ano ang kaya nating marating sa ating pagbabayanihan,” she said.

Robredo led the 121st Independence Day rites at the Rizal Park on Wednesday, along with outgoing Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

Robredo urges DepEd to realign budget to fund blended learning, address health concerns

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to realign the items in its budget to finance the distance learning program and respond to the needs of teachers and students as the country shifts to a blending learning system amid the pandemic.

In a letter dated August 10 addressed to DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, Robredo said the department must realign its P29-billion budget for rehabilitation of school buildings to procure gadgets and other equipment for distance learning and hazard pay for teachers.

“Around P29.5 billion was earmarked for the rehabilitation of school buildings for 2020. Given the shift to distance learning, many of these school buildings will be left without children to occupy them, thus deprioritizing the need for the rehabilitation of physical spaces,” she said.

“This amount can be used to procure the needed gadget and equipment for distance learning as well as address the health concerns of educators,” she added.

Robredo also noted that 61% or around 14 million households do not have access to the internet, adding that 74% or some 34,700 schools do not have the infrastructure to engage in online learning.

“While we understand that the department has set up the DepEd Commons learning platform for students to access lessons on their worn, we have received reports that only 7 million students have so far subscribed to this platform,” she said.

“This constitutes only 35% of the estimated 20 million public school students in the country,” she added.

Aside from access to internet connection and self-learning modules, Robredo also called on DepEd to protect the health and safety of educators by conducting mass testing, with testing and distribution of results done before classes start; providing sufficient fund for physical check-up and medicine; providing supplies such as personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, among others; distributing hazard pay on time, and; establishing a system for the health and wellness needs of the teachers.

She said such initiatives can be funded by realigning DepEd’s P700 million budget allotted for teachers’ trainings.

“Many of these trainings have already, or will be, shifted to online modalities, thus freeing up resources that would otherwise have been used for travel and accommodations,” Robredo said.

“Rest assured that we understand the complexity of the challenges before us. We submit these insights and recommendations in the spirit of solidarity so that we may all, as one nation, build the better normal that our people deserve,” she added.

In response to the vice president’s recommendations, Briones said they cannot just make any significant realignment in their budget without consulting the Department of Budget and Management.

She also said they have allotted P9 billion fund for the reproduction of modules and that these have been forwarded to DepEd regional and division offices.

Briones likewise assured they have laid out programs to ensure the safety and health of educators as she reiterated that no face-to-face classes will be implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been paying hazard pay before COVID-19 for teachers who are in places na malayo ang sasakyan, malayo sa urban area. May standard kasi yan,” she said.

“Ulitin ko walang face-to-face until hangga’t walang vaccine yun ang sinasabi ni president; therefore, the teachers will not be exposed as a result of teaching. If they will be exposed, there might be other causes,” she added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

PH Embassy in South Korea assists Filipinos with special flights to Manila

Marje Pelayo   •   June 10, 2020

SOUTH KOREA — The Philippine Embassy in Seoul assisted a total of 148 passengers who boarded the special Korean Air flight KE 623 to Manila, Sunday afternoon (June 7).

All 148 Filipinos were stranded in South Korea due to intermittent schedules and frequent cancellations of international flights to Manila brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The special flight was arranged by the Philippine Embassy in Seoul and was made possible through the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Manila International Airport Authorities (MIAA), and the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, in cooperation with Korean Air.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Embassy has assisted 270 stranded Filipinos in Korea, both residents and transiting passengers at Incheon International Airport,” said Charge d’affaires Christian de Jesus.

“The special flight was initiated by the Embassy following our survey of Filipinos in Korea who were looking for a special passenger flight. Many have already finished their employment contracts but could not go home because their flight bookings have been cancelled for as many as three to six times,” he added.

CDA de Jesus assures that the Embassy will continue to respond to the needs of Filipinos in Korea whose lives and employment are affected by the pandemic.

160 stranded Filipinos in Japan return home

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 2, 2020

After weeks of being stranded in Japan due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a total of 160 Filipinos are finally sent home on Monday (June 1).

The 160 Filipino tourists, workers, and students departed from Narita International Airport via a chartered flight mounted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.

On the department’s Facebook post, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, Atty. Sarah Lou Y. Arriola, said that “the repatriation of distressed Filipinos abroad is firm commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which is dutifully being implemented by the Department of Foreign Affairs.”

Philippine Ambassador to Japan, Jose C. Laurel V assured the repatriates that the Philippine government will continue to provide assistance to Filipinos abroad.

According to the DFA, the said repatriated Filipinos will undergo COVID testing and hotel quarantine to wait out the results of their test. –AAC

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