TAGUIG CITY has announced that that education is “absolutely free” in all of its 34 public elementary and high schools because an anti-graft drive has allowed city to funnel more funds into social services.
Among the measures the city has taken was the drastic cut in funding for garbage contracts, a source for under-the-table deals in the past.
“In our city, we invest heavily in our most valuable asset: our children,” Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano said.
“That is why we set aside a huge chunk of our resources for the public education sector,” she added.
On top of its “no collection policy” in public schools, the local government also hands out free school supplies such as bags, notebooks, pencils and pens along with ready-to-wear school uniforms, shoes and health kits to the city’s elementary and high school students.
“We were able to do this because we do not tolerate corruption in our city. Because of this, we are able to make Taguigeños happier by providing them with more and better services and benefits,” Cayetano said.
In the previous administration, the garbage disposal budget was roughly P500 million.
Cayetano, however, pruned it down to only P100 million, leaving her with a hefty annual scholarship outlay that has reached P400 million.
For this, the local government was able to send over 24,000 scholars through tertiary or vocational-technical courses.
Cayetano said the Taguig government also shoulders the cost of the public schools’ graduation fees and ceremonies, including the rental of togas and the purchase of yearbooks.
The city government also pays for the Junior-Senior Prom nights of public high school students, the medals given during every public school’s Recognition Day and graduation ceremonies, plus the trophies awarded in athletic competitions.
“We would not be able to do this if corruption were crippling our administration. Because we go hard on corrupt officials, investor confidence has been on an all-time high. Our collections are up and we have more to spend for our children’s education,” Cayetano said.
The mayor also noted that her ‘tough’ fight against corruption helped Taguig into becoming one of Metro Manila’s premier cities.
Records show that the increasing number of businesses that have set up shop in Taguig’s Bonifacio Global City (BGC) include about 50 that have been relocated there from Makati City in recent years.
These previous Makati tenants include the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC), Sony Philippines, Sun Life Corp., Aboitiz Power Corp.; Pru Life Insurance Corp.; Philam Corp.; Colgate-Palmolive Inc., Chinatrust Commercial Banking Corp., 3M Philippines, Hewlett Packard, Intel Microelectronics, Coca-Cola Export Corp. and Avida Corp.
“With our reforms in primary to tertiary education in place, we hope to leave a lasting legacy that will enhance the quality of life of the Filipino family. If our children can graduate and become professionals, our community will grow to be more prosperous,” Cayetano said.
According to her, their education reform initiatives actually merge with its pro-business
agenda as “providing quality education for Taguigeños would help the LGU produce in the long term a better and more competitive labor force for the benefit of local businessmen and investors.”
The Cayetano administration’s first order of business when the mayor assumed office four years ago was to increase the city’s 2011 budget for education by 50 percent, in keeping with its pro-education thrust.
Four years later, Taguig City boasts having the biggest scholarship fund for post-secondary education among local governments in the country.
“We want to raise generations after generations of college graduates, professionals and skilled workers so that they may serve as the city’s foundation someday,” she concluded.