Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Building Resilience is an Attitude, Says Legarda at ADB Conference

MANILA-Amid the risks posed by climate change and extreme weather events, Senator Loren Legarda today said that a change in mindset is inevitable to be able to look at the opportunities in the face of threats.

“Building resilience is an attitude,” said Legarda at the Innovation and Learning in a Changing Asia Conference organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, is a panelist for the session Natural Hazards and Climate Change. Her co-panelists are Mohan Munasinghe, Founding Chairman of the Munasinghe Institute for Development, Colombo and recipient of Nobel Peace Prize 2007 as Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies, Center for Policy Research Dharm Marg, Chanankyapuri, New Delhi; and Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, President of Ateneo De Manila University.

“Citizens of the Asia-Pacific region are more likely to be affected by natural hazards than citizens of other regions. We have been warned of the risks posed by climate change to poverty alleviation, food security and economic growth. Faced with these difficulties, it is a must that development policies should be towards sustainable and resilient growth. We must find innovative solutions to existing problems,” said Legarda.

The Senator explained that policies should mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in development plans, programs and budgets at the national and local levels.

Moreover, people can venture into developing climate change adaptation expertise or in other related areas, because a study done by Environmental Business International, Inc. estimates that, in the next seven years, the annual market for “climate adaptation services” will grow by 12 to 20 percent per year, becoming a $700-million annual market in the United States and $2 billion globally.

She added that disaster risk reduction should be viewed as an investment and not as additional expense. For instance, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has calculated that if the government of Pakistan invests on DRR now, it is projected to achieve approximately 25 percent more economic growth for the year 2042.

“We must promote the scaling up of existing government programs to rectify the social and economic structures that breed disaster risk and trap the poor in the vicious cycle of risk and poverty. Meanwhile, the private sector is encouraged to put disaster resilience at the core of their business strategies and to promote green policies,” she stressed.

“We must reduce the vulnerability and exposure of our people and our economy to the impact of natural hazards. The road towards this goal may be tough, but with the attitude of resilience and a strong resolve, we will be able to weather the many challenges of the fast changing environment,” Legarda concluded.***

Please find attached Opening Statement of Senator Loren Legarda delivered today, September 10, 2014, at the ADB Conference "Innovation and Learning in a Changing Asia," held at the ADB Headquarters, Manila, Philippines.

Gov't to spend P92.3 B for new teachers, classrooms, books, labs

MANILA-Government will be spending P92.3 billion next year to hire more teachers, build classrooms, close logistical gaps and meet the growing needs of 25 million public school students.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto described the proposed outlay as “unprecedented” both in money involved and expected outcomes.

Noting that the Department of Education’s budget will almost double to P309.4 billion next year from P174 billion in 2010, Recto said “mere simple addition was not the math used in computing it.”

“Numbers don’t lie. The government is investing more money in education,” he said.

For next year, government will be creating 39,066 teacher positions, which will cost P9.35 billion in initial salaries.

If hired, it will raise the number of authorized DepEd positions, including those of non-teaching employees, to 709,000, Recto explained.

“Also in the 2015 national budget is a funding request for P52.88 billion for the construction of 31,728 classrooms, repair of 9,500 classrooms, purchase of 1.3 million chairs, building of 13,586 toilets and water facilities, and 455 technical-vocational laboratories,” Recto said.

Government will also be buying 70 million textbooks and other instructional materials at a cost of P3.46 billion.

It will also outfit 24,208 classrooms with computers and IT equipment. “These e-classrooms, some of which will be WiFi-able, will have a total price tag of P8.53 billion,” Recto said.

To boost science and technology education, some 7,733 science and math laboratory equipment packages worth P4 billion will be procured.

Recto had earlier bewailed that 36,328 elementary schools “do not have a decent science lab.”

Other expenditures, he said, are in the form of direct assistance to students or for the training of teachers. “It will not just be about portals and mortar but helping people to achieve their potentials.”

Under this category is the P8.4 billion earmarked for one million Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) scholars.

The GASTPE program  involves the buying of seats in private schools to accommodate the spillover of enrollees from congested public schools.

As to teacher training, P2.05 billion will be set aside for the “retooling program” for 160,000 teachers to prepare them for the K to 12 curriculum.

Recto said public schools “will not only be nourishing the mind but the body as well” as it will enroll 630,000 undernourished kids in a feeding program for which P1.37 billion will be appropriated.

“Ito yung programang hindi ka lang magpapasok ng karunungan sa isip kundi pagkain rin sa katawan,” Recto said.

To bolster school participation rate, DepEd will also be reaching out to one million out-of-school youth under the “Abot-AlamProgram”, which will include alternative learning schemes and adult classes, all of which will cost P1.97 billion.

On a problem bugging many schools – the lack of land to build classrooms on -P200 million will also be appropriated for the purchase of school lots, Recto revealed.

Recto said education spending of the government “is a combination of catching up with existing backlogs and frontloading for future needs.”

According to Recto, the government’s K to 12 program requires huge investments and the budget is amortizing in advance what needs to be bought. 

“Previous budgets were downpayments. The 2015 budget is a continuation of the installment plan,” said the senator.     

While DepEd’s budget is officially pegged at P309.4 billion in the National Expenditure Program, the Department of Budget and Management claims that when other education-related expenditures lodged in other departments or parked in Special Purpose Funds are transferred or spent, they could boost DepEd’s budget to P365 billion.


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