Duterte rejects opening of classes while Vico Sotto bares initiatives for education sector

May 26, 2020 - 1:08 PM
Vico Sotto with children
Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto with children in this photo uploaded on his official Facebook page on Dec. 20, 2019. (Photo from Vico Sotto via Facebook)

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Tuesday revealed his plans on how the city’s youth can still pursue their education after President Rodrigo Duterte shared his sentiments against the resumption of classes in his latest late night address.

In a Facebook post, the city chief shared that the city government is “already working with the Department of Education for any possibility” for the students’ classes.

Sotto said that while there are two options—the resumption of onsite classes or to hold virtual classes—they are on the process of “identifying funds for personal learning devices for students.”

He added that if virtual classes would become the option, the city is already “preparing for better internet connections at the barangay level where students can download the module.”

“DepEd (Department of Education) is doing module-development now but we will also assist as needed,” Sotto continued.

He revealed the options following the chief executive’s remarks against the resumption of classes in light of the pandemic.

Ano man ang mangyari, hindi natin puwedeng hayaan na mahuli ang mga magaaral natin sa mga pampublikong paaralan…We…

Posted by Vico Sotto on Monday, May 25, 2020


‘Bahala na’ 

On Monday evening, Duterte said that he is not in favor of the reopening of classes in the country while there is still no COVID-19 vaccine available for the public.

“I will not allow the opening of classes na mag dikit-dikit ang mga bata. Bahala na hindi makatapos, for this generation, wala ng matapos na doctor of engineer,” he said in a televised meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Wala nang aral, laro nalang. Unless I am sure that they are really safe. It’s useless to be talking about opening of classes.
That’s what I meant. Para sa akin, bakuna muna. ‘Pag nandiyan na ang bakuna, okay na,” Duterte added.

His words were juxtaposed against Sotto’s initiatives, which some Filipinos thought was “better” than shrugging off legitimate concerns on cancellation of classes.

A Twitter user commented on a quote card of a news outlet that featured Duterte’s remarks and wrote: “‘Bahala na’ Good luck sa mga bata. Baka gusto niyo kopyahin magiging approach ni Mayor Vico Sotto? Baka lang naman…”

Another online user said: “We need a leader like Pasig City Mayor @VicoSotto. An education advocate. Despite the risk, he’s looking for possible ways to ensure the continuity of learning to our school children.” 

“I hope our President also thinks this way. Salute to your efforts, Mayor!” he added.

Another Twitter user expressed his concern about the income of school employees like teachers and staff amid the uncertainty posed by Duterte’s remarks.

Duterte in his public address failed to announce further plans on how the employment of school workers would be addressed if classes remain postponed.

Republic Act 7977 or the Act on Lengthening the School Calendar states that school opening may be scheduled in the first week of June up to the last day of August.

Alternative modes of learning 

DepEd previously rejected proposals to cancel classes until there is no vaccine available for COVID-19.

Education Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo said in an interview that while there is no certainty for a vaccine, it would be safe for classes to resume on August 24 since educators would implement alternative modes of learning.

“Hindi natin alam kung kailan available ‘yong vaccine kasi karamihan sa vaccine…na mayroon tayo ay matagal…nade-develop,” he said to ABS-CBN’s DZMM Teleradyo on Monday.

“Sa tingin namin sa Agosto ay ligtas din po dahil mayroon kaming mga pamamaraan o learning delivery modality,” Escobedo added.

“First is the traditional classroom set up, second is the face-to-face and modular learning, third is online learning delivery, which is digital, and the fourth is homeschooling,” he continued.

DepEd recently decided to move the opening of classes for the school year 2020 to 2021 to August 24.  They announced that the new academic calendar would end on April 30, 2021.

Last May 11, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease approved the DepEd’s decision on the date of the school opening this year.

The alternative modes of learning were stressed by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday morning.

“Mayroon tayong tinatawag na blended learning. Ayon kay Sec Briones ng DepEd, gagamitin natin ang telebisyon, ang radyo at ang internet para ipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ang ating mga kabataan,” he said in a press briefing.

Roque also clarified that Duterte was only referring to physical classes in schools when he rejected the opening of classes until a vaccine is found. 

Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan earlier shared that DepEd would release a set of health standards that schools should follow if there is a resumption of physical classes.