“We strongly urge that Secretary Galvez, who is present now, should take this up in the next IATF meeting,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon during the plenary debates on the 2022 budget.
The IATF stands for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“If we keep going on in this condition, the more our educational system is damaged. The more our future generations are put in danger of being mangmang [ignorant], the mental health of our students are being exposed to some adverse effects,” Drilon added.
Sen. Sonny Angara, who was defending the budget as chairman of the Senate finance panel, agreed.
“Yes, he commits fully to doing something about these things,” said Angara, who had Galvez seated behind him.
“In fact, he tells us in private that he has many disagreements with some of those in IATF, but of course they have to keep up a united front,” the senator added.
Before this, several senators stressed the need to resume physical classes — among them Sen. Pia Cayetano.
“These young people can go to the coffee shop, these young people can have contact sports and yet they cannot go to schools,” Cayetano said.
“We must appeal to the administration to help us get to a better place,” she added.
“By now there is a clear negative mental health component if the kids are kept locked inside…I don’t know what damage it does to them in the long run,” she pointed out.
In September, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the holding of face-to-face classes in areas with minimal risk for COVID-19. A two-month pilot run in 100 schools will be held starting Nov. 15.
“I think it is very clear since the start of the debates this morning about the sentiment of the senators that indeed they cannot understand the non-opening of the schools, especially those where the alert level is Alert Level 2, we allow commercial activities and yet we cannot open the schools,” Drilon went on.
“We can’t just keep talking here and be ignored. I don’t think that anyone can dispute the good intention of the Senate in trying to bring out these issues,” Drilon said.