May. 11, 2007

MANILA — TEAM Unity has committed to advance the interest of women and children as part of its legislative program aimed at focusing on President Arroyo’s “social payback” agenda for the masa.

With her strong advocacy on education, Team Unity senatorial candidate Tessie Aquino-Oreta said she will revive bills on education that she had filed while serving as member of the Senate.

Aquino-Oreta also said she will help improve existing laws on women’s rights and educate women about them, such as the abandoned wives’ right to claim child support.

“Alam mo, marami na rin tayong batas para sa kalagayan ng ating kababaihan tsaka ipaglaban yung kanilang karapatan. Siguro ngayon ay panahon din na malaman nila, kasi minsan nagtatanong sa akin, pag ni-research ko meron na tayo, e kaya lang hindi naipapaliwanag,” Aquino-Oreta said in a recent radio interview.

Aquino-Oreta explained further, “Meron tayong batas na pag yung asawa iniwan and you’re left alone with the kid you can claim pala part ng sahod niya. You can go to the company where he works and you can claim part of it and it goes to you.”

She also reiterated the importance of pre-school education, one of her legislative priorities once she gets back to work at the Senate.

Aquino-Oreta said she will press for the establishment of a nationwide public pre-school system for the benefit of low-income and poor Filipinos who cannot afford private pre-schools.

She stressed that psychologists and child development experts have proven that the children’s pre-school stages of life, ages two to six, are the most critical stage at which the child develops learning skills.

“Pre-school,” which refers to children’s preparation to formal education, help the children “get ready to learn” in a classroom setting in Grades one, two, three, and so on, she said.

“With pre-school education, pagpasok nila sa Grade One, Grade Two, Grade Three, more or less mas madali na para sa kanya ang pag-iisip. Ang kanyang knowledge, ika nga, ay lalung nabubuo,” Aquino-Oreta said.

She went on to say, “Ngayon hindi pa siya totally nakahanda. Kaya marami tayong dropout. Pagdating ng Grade Three at Grade Four nagda-drop out sila dahil hindi sila prepared. Hirap sila.”

Aquino-Oreta said the fruits of pre-school can be seen in the performance of children whose parents are able to afford private pre-school tuition. She said all Filipino children, as citizens, have the same right to quality pre-school education.

“Hinahanap ko yung patas ng laban Paano yung ating mga bata sa probinsiya na pumasok ng Grade One. When competition comes or opportunity comes, talo na kami. Talo na yung bata,” Aquino-Oreta said.

The comebacking former-senator, also noted, “Tayo na lang ang bansa, especially dito sa Southeast Asia, kung saan hindi pa integral part of the education ladder ang public education and pre-school.”

She said there were pending proposals in the Congress to add one calendar year to the public education ladder but it was never resolved whether to add a year to primary, secondary or high school level.

“Kung ako ay pagpapalain ng Poong Maykapal na makabalik sa Senado, ang aking gustong itaguyod ay yung preparatory to Grade One,” Aquino-Oreta said.

She and fellow Team Unity senatorial candidate Edgardo Angara were perceived to be “most concerned with education” in a survey conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) Demographic Research and Development.

The majority of over 500 respondents said they intend to vote for Oreta and Angara.

Oreta once chaired the Senate committee on education and is the primary author of the Philippine Science High School System and the Early Childhood Development Act, which calls for the establishment of pre-school daycare centers for the benefit of indigent children.

Angara, on the other hand, had also chaired the Senate education committee and was former University of Philippines president.###

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