The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives is calling on both the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to heed the call for a “national academic break” following the onslaught of strong typhoons in the country.
This, as the militant congressmen noted that the Philippines was already in a state of calamity even before the natural disasters struck, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the country reels from a global health crisis, its economic impacts, and now from natural calamities, (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones, (CHED) Commissioner Popoy De Vera, and President Rodrigo Duterte should immediately take action now more than ever to assist students and teachers,” the six-member bloc said in a currently unnumbered House resolution.
“Heeding the urgent calls of the students, we demand the immediate declaration of a national academic break in light of recent calamities and in consideration of the physical and mental well-being of students, teachers, and their families, especially those extremely affected by the typhoons’ onslaught,” the resolution read.
Asked what they mean by “academic break,” Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said they are batting for something akin to the month-long suspension of classes declared in Marikina City by Mayor Marcelino Teodoro.
The Philippines had just been battered by typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses,” resulting to significant damages both in the metropolis and in the countryside. Marikina in Metro Manila was among the most affected by resulting floods.
“The entire Philippines has already been placed under a state of calamity since the first half of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it was even extended for one year effective last September 13, 2020; now, another declaration of a state of calamity in the country’s largest island Luzon, home to 53 million people—half of the Philippine population–is impending as the circumstances were aggravated by typhoons and other natural calamities,” the solons said.
They noted in the resolution that five typhoons have hit the Philippines within a month’s time. The last three typhoons killed at least 100 people and caused losses of almost P25 billion, they said.
“An academic break can help students and their families cope with the recent calamities, adjust, and ease up on its effects on their well-being and livelihood…aside from being a period for rest and recovery, this break can also be utilized for an assessment of the current education situation and the needs of the stakeholders,” the authors said.
The bloc is composed of Gaite; Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat; Gabriela Party-List Rep. Arlene Brosas; Act Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan Party-List Rep. Sarah Elago.