VP Robredo recommends realignment of P29.5-B DepEd budget

VICE-PRESIDENT Maria Leonor G. Robredo has recommended that the Department of Educations (DepEd) P29.5-billion budget for school buildings this year be realigned to buy gadgets and equipment for distance learning. Given the shift to distance learning, many of these school buildings will be left without children to occupy them, thus deprioritizing the need for the rehabilitation of physical spaces,she said in an Aug. 10 letter to DepEd. Ms. Robredo also said part of the funds may be used to address health concerns of teachers. On top of this, she said in-service training this year, which shifted to online modalities, may have freed up resources meant to cover travel expenses from a P700-million allocation. The new school year opens Aug. 24 with no face-to-face classes allowed. Primary and secondary schools will be using various modes of instruction such as printed modules, radio and television programs, and online learning. Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, meanwhile, called for a reassessment of the Aug. 24 opening date, saying the distribution of modules would be a very big issue,especially in areas where there are still a high number of coronavirus cases. Mr. Gatchalian, who chairs the Senates basic education committee, also flagged the lack of guarantee in terms of testing and hospitalization coverage for teachers. Charmaine A. Tadalan

Justice dept proceeds with Echanis murder probe

THE Department of Justice may now proceed with its probe on the killing of National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Randall Echanis after the police released the body on Wednesday, Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said. “I understand that the PNP (Philippine National Police) has released the body to the Echanis family upon verifying that the deceased was indeed Randall Echanis,the Justice chief told reporters. In that case, the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) need not do another verification, and the DoJ/AO (Administrative Order) 35 special investigation team may proceed to do its work.Anakpawis party-list, which Mr. Echanis chaired, has lambasted the police for forcefully taking his remains even after his wife already confirmed the bodys identity. Police authorities, on the other hand, explained that a confirmation was necessary as the body was initially identified as Manuel Santiago based on an identification card found at the crime scene.

Meanwhile, Maj. Elmer Monsalve, head of the Quezon City Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit, said it is highly possible that Mr. Echanis was not the target of the killers but his companion, Louie Tagapia. The two were murdered inside Mr. Echanisrented apartment in Quezon City. Mr. Monsalve said their background investigation shows that Mr. Tagapia had just been released from prison on a drug-related case and was a member of the criminal Sputnik gang. Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR

Survey shows Filipinos among most worried over pandemic impact

FILIPINOS were the second most pessimistic over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic among Asian countries surveyed by Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. (Manulife). In a statement on Thursday, Manulife said the survey showed 58% of Filipino respondents expect the outbreak to escalate in the second half, higher than the regional average of 41%, and comes next to Indonesians who posted the highest rate. The Manulife Asia Care Survey asked 2,400 insurance policyholders in May, covering markets in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. Some 300 respondents were from the Philippines. Worries over the global health crisis prompted 46% of respondents to “review and manage personal finance more often than before” the pandemic hit. “Through this study, we are able to identify their concerns, priorities, and goals so we can provide the necessary solutions to help address our customersfinancial and health needs and help them live every day better,” said Melissa Henson, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer of Manulife Philippines. — Beatrice M. Laforga