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ROUGH CUTS | The ‘birth pains’ are manifesting

EARLY this week we received information intimating that the choice by the government to adopt the Hongkong-based consultant’s design and recommended location of the Davao City-Samal Island connector bridge is “influenced” by the maneuverings of a political group in the Davao Region.

According to the source whom we know for long and whose credibility we cannot doubt, the political group is out to embarrass Davaoeno President Rodrigo Duterte to his constituents in his own political base.

Our source added that the group is not really new but a product of a split among the President’s supporters during his run for the Presidency in 2016 until the dominant figures in the once-united backers got into a nasty personal squabble.

A recollection of the circumstances leading to the split of the two titans of the President’s backers would show that one of them succeeded in pulling down the other from a lofty position the latter held.

However, the latter protagonist also had a lot of aces on his sleeves against the former. Somehow, in only a few years of his leadership of his side of the group he managed to strengthen his hold. So, after the 2019 local elections the performance of the candidates aligned with him shocked not just the Southern Philippines political arena but the entire country as well.

Nevertheless, we personally believe that such feat of the emerging political kingpin in the region is not enough to create a clout to force the national government into vowing to his group’s recommendation –or call it demand – for the junking of the JICA proposal and adopt instead the Hongkong consultant’s proposed design.

But taking into consideration the credibility of our source we see it as one possibility not far-fetched.

With the emerging political group’s substantial representation in the current Regional Development Council (RDC) XI, it is not remote that it can establish a strong bargaining position in the final approval of big-ticket infrastructure projects in the region.
And if we believe in the claim of our informant, there is so much “motivation” for the acknowledged leader of the said political group. And it is what our source said the P7 billion in the bridge’s budget that is placed in the item called “Miscellaneous.”

Well, our source’s intimation may be valid. Imagine if the “Miscellaneous” in the project’s budget gets into the hands of politicians aligned with the new group through means not anymore alien in government project implementation! It surely can embarrass the President to his constituents in his own home region.

But as we said, for now we are not ready to believe our source. No, not because we have doubt on his credibility but because to us, the present political alignments in the Davao Region deny the information he got from the ground the right sense.
Nonetheless, the information our source gave us is worth looking into and validating. After all, in the Philippines brand of politics anything can happen. And there are no permanent friends; only permanent political interest.

Again, “Let us to see.” “Tan-awon nato,” according to the late Davaoeno senator Alejandro “Landring” Almendras.

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A few days before the opening of School Year 2020-2021 last Monday, October 5, we wrote on this space about the certainty of birth pains in the implementation of the modified learning system under the so-called “New Normal.”

Yes, the adoption of a modified learning system is resorted to as a consequence of the deadly health pandemic brought about by the massive infection of the Corona Virus Disease (CoViD) 19 all over the world.

With the Philippines ranking as the 20th most affected world-wide and second to Indonesia with the most number of cases in Southeast Asia, the government had no other recourse but to forego with the normal holding of face-to-face classes in classrooms.

This, according to the government, is to prevent community transmission of the deadly virus to students who belong to one of the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

So, the Department of Education (DepEd) had to come up with a new learning process that will allow continuity of classes even without the students going to the classrooms and interacting with their teachers and classmates. And the new scheme adopted is the so-called blended process of instructions and learning.

These are the purely on-line method, the mixed on-line and module use method, the purely modular means of instruction and learning, and the radio-television teaching.

Despite all efforts to fine-tune the system adopted for the New Normal, the DepEd admits that there will definitely be birth pains at the start of the implementation of all the modes of instructions.

As far as this particular column of ours, we take more specific concern on the On-Line teaching process. The agency acknowledges that under the on-line scheme, both the students and teachers have to confront the lack of connectivity. These are the absence of internet and wide fidelity (Wi-Fi) connection; the wide area where telecommunication signal is weak or cannot reach, the very significant number of students and even teachers who do not have the gadgets needed for on-line learning such as computers both table type and laptops; tablets, appropriate mobile phones; and even the lack of skills of students and teachers to operate the gadgets to conform with the interaction methodology.

Last Tuesday, the second day of on-line classes, we personally observed the conduct of instruction through our two grandchildren, both students of public high schools. The older one is a Grade 10 student at Davao City Special High School while the other, a Grade 8, student at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School Science Technology and Engineering (STE) section.

As to our grandson at SPED, the on-line class was going smoothly for the first few minutes of the only subject they held class that day. But a few more minutes, the words uttered by the teacher who was based at a classroom in school, started to sputter. Then it sounded like telegraphic signals until the words spoken became totally incomprehensible. Soon enough the on-line class was terminated for that day.

Our granddaughter at Daniel Aguinaldo though, was a bit luckier than her brother at SPED. Her on-line classes ran smoothly and seemed to have no problem at all.

If this has happened in a so-called premier public school right in the heart of a highly urbanized city then it is very easy to imagine the situation experienced by our grandson happening in most of the rural areas not just in Davao City but the rest of the country.

Now, the sources of the birth pains are clearly manifesting. It is up to the government to find means to provide the needed “pain relievers.” If this can be done fast, then the better for the Filipino learners and teachers.

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