Press Release
July 22, 2018

Angara's SONA 'Wishlist': Universal Health Care, Pay Hike for Teachers, Job Creation

Senator Sonny Angara is hoping President Duterte will push in his State of the Nation Address the passage of the Universal Health Care bill, the promised salary increase for teachers, and the prioritization of job creation in the country.

According to Angara, the proposed Universal Health Care bill would provide every Filipino access to a comprehensive set of health services - from free check-ups, lab tests and medicines to free hospital treatment and end-of-life care - without having to experience financial hardship.

"Health expenses drive poor Filipinos to deeper poverty. Kapag naisabatas ito, wala nang Pilipinong magigipit kapag nagkasakit," stressed Angara, author of Senate Bill 1673.

After making free public education possible from kindergarten to college, Angara said the government should now aim at improving the quality of education and one way to do this is to give teachers a decent salary.

"Ngayon na ginawa na nating abot-kaya ang lahat ng antas ng edukasyon - mula kindergarten, elementary, high school, hanggang kolehiyo - panahon na para tutukan ang kalidad ng ating edukasyon sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng sapat na suporta sa ating mga guro," the lawmaker pointed out.

Angara is one of the authors of the Free College and the Free Kindergarten laws, while his father, the late Senate President Ed Angara was the principal author of the Free High School Act.

Angara strongly believes that giving higher pay to teachers could help improve the quality of education in the country's public school system, as this would attract more qualified and competent educators to teach in public schools.

Thus, he has filed Senate Bill 135 that seeks to upgrade the minimum salary grade level of public school teachers.

Earlier this year, President Duterte has promised to raise the salary of teachers after the basic salary of the military and the police have been doubled. In addition, the senator said he also wants the Duterte administration to prioritize creation of high-paying jobs in the country in order to reduce poverty faster.

He cited the latest labor force survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority which showed a decrease in the unemployment rate from 6.6% last year to 5.3% this year.

The quality of jobs, however, deteriorated as the underemployment rate - or the proportion of those already working but still looking for more work or longer working hours - increased from 16.3% to 18%.

"Patuloy na bumababa ang unemployment ng bansa, pero tumataas pa rin ang underemployment. Ang ibig sabihin nito ay kahit may trabaho na sila, hindi pa rin sapat ang kinikita nila para sa kanilang pang-araw-araw na gastusin kung kaya't naghahanap pa rin sila ng ibang pagkakakitaan.

"The country's economic gains must lead to the creation of more high-paying and stable jobs. Trabaho pa rin talaga ang susi laban sa kahirapan. Kapag may sapat na kita, permanente at disenteng trabaho, siguradong aangat ang buhay ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino," said Angara, sponsor of recent labor reforms such as the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) law, the JobStart Act, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) law.

The senator stressed that the Build, Build, Build program of the government should be paired with a Jobs, Jobs, Jobs program that will provide competitive salaries so as to address not only the unemployment and underemployment issues, but also to attract overseas Filipino workers to return and work back home.

"The push of the administration to fast-track infrastructure development to create jobs while ramping up social services like free education and better healthcare services is moving in the right direction. These efforts must be sustained so as to improve the lives of Filipinos," Angara said.

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