An eminent choice for DepEd Secretary

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PRESIDENT-elect Rody Duterte made a perfect decision in choosing to appoint Professor Emeritus Leonor Magtolis-Briones Secretary of Education once he becomes our President. That important day, which will mark the beginning of an administration that, we pray, will succeed in fulfilling its promise to make government more efficient, effective, honest and responsive to the urgent and true needs of our people than what we have now, is only 14 days away.

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Dr. Magtolis-Briones is professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance, Lead Convenor of Social Watch Philippines (the most incisive observer of public governance in our country which, often under her byline, publishes its findings). She has been a columnist of The Manila Times.

She is also the chair of the Board of Trustees of Silliman University and the chairman designate of the Board of Regents of the Universidad de Manila.

She is a person who takes her belief in God seriously, a rare trait among government officials.

She has held important national government positions. She has been secretary to the Commission on Audit, vice president for Finance and Administration at the University of the Philippines, treasurer of the Republic of the Philippines and concurrently presidential adviser on social development.

She never applied for these positions. She was invited on the basis of her track record and her sterling reputation.

Even in becoming president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (which includes some of the most patriotic Filipinos who know in-depth the financial condition of our country and of the government) and lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines, she was invited by the founders and movers of these authoritative and vigilant civil society organizations.

The same is true of her forthcoming appointment as Secretary of Education. Though a native Bisayan speaker like President-elect Duterte, Dr. Leonor Magtolis-Briones and Mayor Duterte had not even met each other when the offer was made.

Some critics of Sec. Armin Luistro, and the government’s resolve to continue the implementation of the K-to-12 system of basic education, have objected to the appointment of Professor Emeritus Briones. They do so because she does not share their position against K-to-12. In fact, she has repeatedly suggested that Bro. Armin Luistro should be retained by the Duterte government as Secretary of Education, “so he can shepherd the ongoing implementation of K-to-12 to its successful conclusion.” Indeed, that “process has been going on for the past four years.”

This fact—that K-to-12 has been in place for four years—those opposed to K-to-12 seem not to know, or purposely ignore, when they speak and write against “the introduction” of K-to-12 because it lays more burdens on poor parents.

In another part of today’s OpEd Section, we publish part of Prof. Magtolis-Briones’ statement about her incoming appointment to DepEd. That essay also offers an illumination on the whole matter of K-to-12.

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