Angara gets DepEd post; choice widely welcomed

Angara gets DepEd post; choice widely welcomed

Juan Edgardo Angara (Joseph B. Vidal / Senate Social Media Unit)

Senator and now new DepEd Sec. Juan Edgardo Angara —Joseph B. Vidal/Senate Social Media Unit

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday named Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara the new education secretary, a day after the lawmaker indicated his willingness to accept the post if offered to him.

In a statement issued shortly after his appointment was announced, Angara said he was “deeply honored and grateful to the President… for the trust he has placed in me.”


He also told reporters in an interview that he would seek “advice on how to do my job well” from the Cabinet, his colleagues in the Senate, “experts in education and my predecessors.”


READ: Business group lists 4 nominees for DepEd secretary

The appointment of Angara, whose second term as senator ends next year, comes exactly two weeks after Vice President Sara Duterte resigned as education chief, a move seen to have confirmed her soured relations with the President. Her resignation takes effect on July 19.

News of Angara’s selection was welcomed by most stakeholders in the education sector, including activist groups that were Red-tagged or linked to the communist insurgency by the outgoing DepEd head.

A statement by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Marcos made his choice known at Tuesday morning’s Cabinet meeting. “Sonny has agreed to take on the brief of the Department of Education (DepEd),” the PCO quoted him as saying.

The Palace media office also said Malacañang “anticipates a smooth transition” at DepEd once Duterte’s resignation takes effect.

“Upon the guidance of the President, we will soon begin the transition process with the office of Vice President Sara Duterte,’’ Angara said. “I eagerly look forward to building [on] the gains made during her stint at the department.”


“Together, with the dedication of all stakeholders, we will strive to create a brighter future for our nation through education.”

A lawyer by profession, Angara was among several choices recommended for the education portfolio by leading groups in the sector, namely the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations, the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities, and the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd).

Other candidates recommended by these groups included Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Negros Occidental Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, and former Finance Undersecretary Milwida Guevara.

The PCO cited Angara’s “extensive legislative history” for championing “significant educational reforms” since he joined Congress in 2004.

Among these accomplishments are Angara’s authorship of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act No. 10931), which mandated free tuition in state and local universities and colleges; the Enhanced Basic Education Act (RA 10533), which mandated the K-to-12 curriculum; the Kabalikat sa Pagtuturo (Teaching Supplies) Act (RA 11997); the Open Distance Learning Act (RA 10650); the Universal Kindergarten Act (RA 10157); and the Anti-Bullying Act (RA 10627).

He was first elected Aurora representative in 2004. By 2010, during his last term in the House of Representatives, he had headed the panel on higher and technical education.

The son of the late Senate President and former University of the Philippines president Edgardo Angara and ex-Cultural Center of the Philippines chair Gloria Manalang, Angara earned his law degree at the University of the Philippines, Master of Laws degree at Harvard University and economics degree at the London School of Economics.

Impending appointment

Angara said he only received confirmation of his appointment moments before Marcos’ announcement.

On Monday, he told reporters he was “open” to being appointed to DepEd “if given the trust [by the President].”

On Tuesday, he told reporters that he had met Marcos. “I told him what I would do if I were the [education] secretary. But I wasn’t sure that I would be appointed after the meeting,” he said.

His colleagues in the Senate already hinted at his impending appointment right before it was announced.

“Congratulations, Sen. Sonny Angara, on your Deped post! So well deserved. We are here to support you!” Sen. Loren Legarda said on X just shortly after the PCO’s confirmation.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, in a statement, called Angara “one of the most qualified and acceptable DepEd Secretaries among education reform advocates.”

“Sen. Sonny will have a lot on his plate as Education Secretary. Besides the crisis in education, he has to strengthen the education system and demonstrate compassion and concern for our education workers and learners,” she said.

‘Political savvy’

In a statement, PBEd said Angara’s “wealth of experience” and even “political savvy” will serve him well in his new post.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the teachers’ union that Angara’s predecessor had Red-tagged, said they know him to be “open” to dialogue with teachers’ groups and for his “consistent” stand on improving their welfare.

“ACT hopes that Senator Angara will remain to be amicable, different from his Red-tagger predecessor,” ACT chair Vladimer Quetua said in a separate statement.

Lawyer and human rights advocate Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno also welcomed Angara’s appointment, saying that he “has his work cut out for him as our students and teachers continue to grapple with the learning crisis.”

“He has to buckle down to work immediately and address the pressing challenges and needs of the education sector that have been overlooked by the previous leadership,” Diokno said.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition said “For now, we welcome the Senator to the Department and request a meeting with him at his earliest convenience.”

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The group said Angara should readily engage with teachers’ groups to help him tackle the challenges in the education system. —with reports from Dempsey Reyes, Alden Monzon and Inquirer Research

TAGS: DepEd, Presidential Communications Office, Sonny Angara

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