Education chief urges voters: Put nation’s interest above your own
MANILA — As more than 54 million Filipinos head to the polls on Monday (May 9) in what may be the most divisive election in recent memory, Education Secretary Armin Luistro made a last-minute appeal to the public to put the nation’s interest above all else in choosing the country’s next leaders.
“You may have already made your choice at this point, but let me bring you back to the crossroads and remind you that in making that choice, you should base your votes on the needs of your nation and not your own,” Luistro said in his message to parents, teachers and education partners released over the weekend.
The education chief appealed to the electorate to shun survey results, big promises and mass popularity, and instead let their “conscience” be their guidepost in choosing the country’s next leaders, who should possess the core values of being God-fearing, humane, environment-friendly and patriotic.
“Choose someone who is God-fearing and who lives out a compassionate, honest and moral life. Our nation needs someone who respects the rights and dignity of every human being, and promotes truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace,” Luistro said. He added that the public should also go for someone who not only “has a track record in building a just and humane society” but also “values the conservation and development of the earth that our forefathers have bequeathed us.”
Apart from the candidates’ proposed plans and platforms, Luistro said that the public should assess who among the candidates possess “the values and characteristics that we want our students to model and emulate,” and has shown “in deeds that he or she can bring this nation toward progress.”
While it’s true that it is the youth who will forge the country’s future, the responsibility of laying down the foundations of that future lies in the hands of the leaders that the public will elect, according to Luistro.
“You all owe it to our 24 million learners to vote wisely,” he said. Luistro described one’s ability to choose his leaders “the greatest power” he could possess.
He stressed that the choice one would make today “will dictate the course of your lives and where this country will be in the next six years.”
“I urge you to make sure that your vote will not be one that will have you look back to the day you shaded those circles, and will have you keep telling yourself: I should’ve, I would’ve, I could’ve,” he said.
Luistro, who led the Department of Education since the start of the Aquino administration in 2010, said that indeed, the country has been in need of reforms. He cited as an example the K to 12 reform program, which overhauled the country’s education system to help students have a better shot at life.
The landmark education reform program, which adds two more years to the current 10-year basic education system, is set to fully roll out on June 13 with the introduction of the senior high school program.
Luistro, however, urged the public to install a leadership that would not “undo” all the efforts made but one that would “build [upon] the foundations of education reform that we have already painstakingly laid [down].”
“Most of all, it is a change in attitude that we need; particularly in how we use our right to suffrage,” he said. “Be the change that you want for our country by making the well-informed vote that our nation deserves.”
Whatever the result of the elections would be, Luistro asked the public to “accept the outcome with graciousness in our hearts” and continue to strive to promote the welfare of students. SFM
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