By Darryl John Esguerra

Senator Sonny Angara. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has named Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara as the next Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd).

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) made the announcement in a social media post Tuesday.

Angara will replace Vice President Sara Duterte, who resigned as DepEd chief on June 19.

The PCO noted Angara’s “extensive legislative history” and his role in significant educational reforms.

“His notable legislative achievements include the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act and the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 (K-12),” it said.

In a separate news release, the PCO said Marcos announced Angara’s appointment during the 17th Cabinet Meeting in Malacañang.

“Sonny has agreed to take on the brief of the Department of Education,” Marcos was quoted as saying in the PCO news release.

Angara holds a Master of Laws from Harvard University, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines, and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the London School of Economics.

He also garnered support from key educational organizations, with the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) and the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), endorsing to the President his appointment as new DepEd chief.

The DepEd welcomed the appointment of Angara as its next Secretary.

In a statement, DepEd Undersecretary and spokesperson Michael Poa expressed optimism in the improvement of the quality of basic education under the helm of Angara.

“The DepEd community looks forward to working with the new leadership as we continue our relentless pursuit towards improving the quality of Basic Education in the country,” he said in a statement.

Angara, meanwhile, expressed his gratitude to Marcos as he vowed to work closely with various stakeholders and his predecessors, including Vice President Duterte.

“I am deeply honored and grateful to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for the trust he has placed in me as the Secretary of the Department of Education. This significant responsibility is one I accept with humility and a profound sense of duty,” he said in a separate statement.

He assured collaboration with the entire administration to enhance the overall quality of education in the country.

Angara will assume office on July 19.

‘Outstanding choice’

House Speaker Martin Romualdez said Angara’s appointment as the new education chief is an “outstanding choice” for such a crucial role because of his “extensive experience, unwavering dedication, and exemplary public service”.

He said Angara has the expertise needed to lead the DepEd with excellence due to his notable legislative work and education policy achievements.

“Throughout his career, Senator Angara has demonstrated a profound commitment to enhancing our educational system and championing our students’ and teachers’ rights and welfare,” he said.

He said the House of Representatives is ready to collaborate with Angara to ensure that every Filipino child has access to quality education.

Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2) Commissioner Francisco Benitez, who represents the 3rd district of Negros Occidental, said Angara is the “right man for the job” given that he knows the “ins and outs of the Philippine education system” and understands it from a finance and management perspective.

“We wish Secretary-Designate Angara success. We express our full support to his leadership. We look forward to continuing working closely with him and education stakeholders to fix our education system and adapt it to changing times,” he said.

House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation chairperson and Bohol Rep. Kristine Alexie Tutor expressed optimism that the lower chamber can work well with Angara in addressing the challenges the large bureaucracy faces and the plight of the over 900,000 licensed professional teachers in all the DepEd schools.

“Secretary Angara can swiftly remove the burdens of teachers by letting the DOH (Department of Health), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), and barangay health centers carry the greater burdens on school health and nutrition,” she said.

She said another way to ease the workload of teachers is to outsource the administrative and ancillary tasks to professional service providers via Expanded Build-Operate-Transfer contracts because DepEd does not have enough administrative and support personnel. (with a report from Stephanie Sevillano/Filane Cervantes/PNA)