House questions DOST on support for PSHS

Members of the House committee on appropriations chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) on Tuesday questioned officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on how the agency is helping students of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) affected by the war in Marawi City and how it can establish a new PSHS campus in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The lawmakers inquired about the DOST operations of the PSHS during the committee's hearing on the DOST proposed budget of P21.12 billion for 2018, up from this year's budget of P20.95 billion.

During the hearing presided by Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd District, Albay), senior vice chairman of the committee, Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte) asked DOST Secretary Fortunato dela PeAa what remedies and support are being extended by the DOST for the PSHS students who are affected by the conflict in Marawi City. The PSHS campus near Marawi City is located in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte.

Dela PeAa said the DOST has a protocol that when there is an emergency in an area, immediately the affected students are given allowances for contingencies.

In the case of the PSHS, there was immediate support of P4,000 per month times two for those who have been affected. In the case of our DOST scholars in college, P5,000 per month (was given) immediately for two months. But in the case of the Balo-i campus, we actually convened the parents and we checked with them what will be their sentiment, will they like to relocate temporarily the operation of the campus or whether they are willing to continue with the campus, said Dela PeAa.

He said based on their meeting with the parents, they found out that only a few of them wanted their children to be transferred to other campuses. In a way, we were pleasantly surprised that the numbers were small and they (parents) decided to continue with the Balo-i campus, said Dela PeAa.

Dela PeAa said the DOST ensured the deployment of more security to the PSHS campus.

Lia Habacon, PSHS Executive Director, said they doubled the security which was made possible through coordination with the military and the police, together with the local government unit.

Habacon said they added more space for the dormers so that they do not have to commute. They also shortened the class hours, which is 2 pm on Monday to Thursday, so that by 2:30 pm, the students are already out of the campus. On Friday, the students should be out of the campus by 12 noon.

Dimaporo asked if the observance of the early dismissal hours was due to the martial law and the establishment of checkpoints in Iligan City.

Habacon replied in the affirmative. She also said that it was the request of the parents that their children be home before sunset.

Dimaporo said he was relieved to know that the DOST and PSHS officials are doing due diligence. Thank you Mr. Secretary because I've been hearing reports about the possible closure of the Balo-i campus because families are scared to send their children to study there. I am happy to have it placed on record today, that you are doing due diligence, we found that the concerns are very minimal, said Dimaporo.

Meanwhile, Rep. Makmod Mending, Jr. (Party-list AMIN) sought an amendment of Section 1 of Republic Act 9036 which provides that: "The State shall also ensure that every region is given equal opportunity to benefit from the establishment of the PSHS System. Towards this end, only one PSHS campus shall be established in each of the administrative regions of the country."

Mending said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been left out in having its own PSHS campus because of Section 1 of RA 9036.

Ang hiling lang po nami magkaroon ng campus within the ARMM. Yan lang ang pangarap namin. Kasi parang na-discriminate kami, lahat ng administrative regions merong PSHS, suddenly sa amin wala, said Mending.

Dela PeAa said they respect the autonomy of the ARMM, therefore the formal decision should come from it. Meaning to say, there has to be something like a resolution on the part of the ARMM assembly or even just an order from the President to proceed with that. I don't think there is a need to amend the law, he said.

Salceda explained that from the purview of the national government, there is an administrative region administering national government services to the regions.

Salceda asked everyone concerned to work it out so that the PSHS establishment in the ARMM will be fulfilled. I think there is an understanding for you to move forward, he said.

Salceda also asked if there is available land in the ARMM where the new PSHS building can be put up.

We are putting that (PSHS) because the ARMM is an administrative region of the Philippine national government. So in compliance with the law, we have to put up a PSHS there, he said.

Rep. France Castro (Party-list, ACT Teachers) asked what is the obligation of PSHS graduates when they finish college.

Dela PeAa said the PSHS graduates have no obligation to work in DOST agencies after college.

He said the only obligation of PSHS graduates is to enroll in Science and Technology courses in college.

Habacon said their mandate is to prepare the PSHS graduates to become S and T leaders. Usually, 90 percent enroll in S and T courses, said Habacon.

Source: House of Representatives

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