Friday, February 19, 2010

Presidential candidates have vague plans on education and maternal care

February 18, Anabels Restaurant, Quezon City - Lead Convenor of Social Watch Philippines and Alternative Budget Initiative Dr. Leonor Magtolis-Briones discuss Millennium Development Goals 2 and 5; Universal Primary Education and Maternal Health Care as the major problem that the presidential aspirants must emphasize on their platforms. According to Briones that politicians may somewhat state on their platforms on what goals they wanted to set when they assume to power including educational reforms and health programs still it is vague and generic.

She mention that from the time of the former President Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the allotment of budget for health and education decreases and debt servicing became the top on the appropriation list of the government. The decrease of the budget allotment leads to the decrease to the number of children who goes to school due to the supply of educational facilities decreases along with the salary of the teachers. And the concept of alternative education enters which majority of those how spearheads program like this are non-government or private sectors. While on health care with the decreasing budget it can no longer provide medical facilities and supply on health centers especially on poor urban places and rural areas, and it brings burden to shoulders of doctors and nurses who volunteers to the project. The reduction on budget on health care increases the chances of mortality among children and women in the community who are mostly affected on this situation. As Briones translated it to numbers from the Estrada administration from the 18.70% share on education it decreases to 15.05% during the Arroyo administration, while on the case of health from 2.40 % it falls to 1.63 % and opposite to this debt servicing which is the priority of the current administration increases 19.17 % to 26.55 % share from the budget. Here is the answer of Dr. Briones to my questions: 1.) What is the status of alternative education compare to the usual educational system we had and how it reflects the government policy on education? 2.) Is our presidential candidates have a clear and concrete plan in regards with maternal health care?

Dulce Saret of United Nation Development Program (UNDP) includes that right now it is not only primary education and maternal care that should be addressed by the presidential candidates on their platforms; she includes other MDGs like gender equality, combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases and the issue of climate change. Gender inequality is becoming an underground issue in connection of education where girls has a bigger change to go to school over boys because of three reason; 1. Males in the family even though they are young are required to work and become breadwinners of their family, 2. Females are more capable of becoming OFW when they grow and look for work, and 3. Females by nature are hard working in terms education is concern. With the increase of HIV/AIDS cases in country that reaches to 4, 424 according to the Department of Health and most alarming study of the Philippine National AIDS Council that the estimated number of cases in the Philippines increases to 9,000. And lastly the issue of climate change came in after we have seen the disaster brought by Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng and now the country is facing the problem on El Niño which will be another set back for the our goal to eradicate hunger and poverty.

In my point of view, it is important to know the platforms of our presidential candidate and get close with them, and it is more important that we go deeper on the issues of the society, the decreasing literary rate, the increase of child and maternal mortality in the country, the inequality and gender discrimination, climate change and environmental disaster, alarming increase on AIDS cases and unresolved cases of human rights violation. Like what I always say before shading the name of your candidate let’s think twice is he or she rightful to the position, are we just basing our vote because he or she is a good speaker, a close friend to us or is he or she can really answer the issue on the looming problem in the society. We have the power to vote and let us use it properly.

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