Let’s talk first, Cabinet nominee tells Duterte

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WILL Leonor Briones accept an offer of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to head the Department of Education (DepEd)?

She could not say just yet.

Briones, a former national treasurer and University of the Philippines professor at present, on Monday told a television interview aired over Net 25 that she will meet first with the country’s next President to discuss her other advocacies, aside from education, and to “clarify some concerns.”

Briones teaches Public Administration at UP Diliman in Quezon City.


She is currently also the chairman of the board of trustees of Silliman University in Dumaguete City (Negros Oriental) and chairman-designate of the Universidad de Manila in the City of Manila.

“I am closely connected with these universities, [so I want to be sure that there would be no conflict of interest if I accepted the offer]although historically [there had been]secretaries of Education [who sat in school boards],” Briones said.

She added that she will ask Duterte if she will be allowed to retain her posts at the two universities and another one at a non-government organization, budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines(SWP) of which she is lead convenor.

Apart from being an education advocate, Briones said SWP also watches over “pork barrel [Priority Development Assistance Fund], lump sum [appropriations], agriculture, health.”

She added that the first year of the Duterte administration would be a challenging one because the Education department will be rolling out Senior High School under the K-to-12 program this coming school year.

Briones noted that “parents are yet to see the value of K-to-12 [Kindergarten to Grade 12] education.”

If she accepted the Education portfolio, she said, she will address potential problems to be caused by implementation of K-to-12 program.

Briones pointed out though that the department under Secretary Armin Luistro had prepared hard for the implementation of the program.

She said as Education chief, she will fund the department’s Alternative Learning System to ensure that those who are beyond 25 years old would still be given educational opportunities.

Briones announced that she will meet with Duterte this week and later with Luistro.

Meanwhile, Luistro declined to comment on the appointment of his successor.

“I really would have to reserve my comments until an official appointment is made by the new administration. As far as I know, Dr. Briones has requested some to think about the offer. I will have to await word from her first before making a comment,” he said in a text message.

“I hold Dr. Briones in high esteem for her principles and in her commitment to education. I am most grateful for her appreciation of the work accomplished thus far by DepEd in education reform,” Luistro added.

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