Known fiscalizer is new DepEd chief
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Professor Leonor Magtolis-Briones will take over the Department of Education (DepEd) on the heels of the implementation of the biggest education reform in the country, the K-12 program.

A known fiscalizer, Briones served as national treasurer and presidential adviser on social development during the Estrada administration.

She was also the lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines, a budget transparency watchdog that has consistently called for the removal of lump sums in the national budget.

She was among those who filed the petition that resulted in the Supreme Court decision to declare the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel as unconstitutional.

A long-time educator, Briones is professor emeritus at the National College of Public Administration and Governance of the University of the Philippines (UP-NCPAG).

Prior to her appointment to DepEd, she was also chairman of the Board of Trustees of Silliman University and chairman-designate of the Board of Regents of the Universidad de Manila.

Briones, 75, obtained a degree in Business Administration, major in Accounting, magna cum laude, from Silliman University and Master of Public Administration, major in Local Government and Fiscal Administration from the UP-NCPAG.

She also has postgraduate diplomas in Development Administration from Leeds University in the United Kingdom and Harvard Institute for International Development in the United States.

She was recently conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Administration (honoris causa) by the Central Philippines University.

Opportunity

Briones was tapped by President Duterte to serve as education secretary after Lyceum of the Philippines University executive Peter Laurel declined the appointment.

Upon her acceptance, her predecessor Armin Luistro welcomed Briones and noted her experience in fiscal administration would help the agency in managing its budget.

DepEd receives the lion’s share of the national budget, reaching over P400 billion this year.

Briones said she did not apply for the position and had not even met with Duterte when the post was offered to her.

In explaining her decision to accept the position, Briones said she has been active in the decades-long campaign to advance the cause of education in the country.

“I therefore accepted the nomination not for my own sake, because I don’t need another Cabinet position, but because it is an opportunity and a tremendous challenge for all who believe in education to contribute to reforms and put into practice our lifetime advocacies,” she added.

In previous interviews, Briones said she would continue to campaign for higher budget for education, noting that the current allocation is still below the ideal six percent of gross domestic product.

She also stressed the need to strengthen the country’s alternative learning system to ensure that no Filipino is left behind.

Briones said she would see to it that the implementation of the K-12 program is closely monitored to ensure that concerns, such as displacement of college teachers, are properly addressed.

“Without doubt, not all pupils will be absorbed into the K-12 program. Provision has to be made for alternative learning systems which will ensure that no one will be left behind,” she said.

“I have a special interest in Philippine culture and the arts. These should spring from our historical experiences as a people.”

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