Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Half of text messages income should go to schools, health care

The current budgetary gaps in education and health can be filled up by 50 centavos for every text message, Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, said yesterday.

Gordon said he believes that it is possible for the government to be able to fill the gaps in health and education through the cooperation of telecommunications companies if the latter would be required to remit half of their net revenues from local text messages to the government.

He is now pushing this measure in a bill he filed at the Senate, Senate Bill No. 2402, wherein he proposed that telecommunication firms be required to allocate every single short message system (SMS) charged to their consumers to the government to address the ballooning backlogs in education and health infrastructures.

"When you think about it, R0.50 centavos of every peso you pay every time you send a text message will ensure a world-class education system that is at par with other developing nations. We have more to gain from this than to lose," Gordon said.

Though it may raise eyebrows at first, Gordon said he is confident that the measure, also known as the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP) bill, would bring a lot of benefits to the whole country.

"If the public is aware of the educational and health benefits that our children will gain from the bill, I believe they would even text more often, knowing that every text message they send, part of it will be for the improvement of the country's educational and health system," Gordon said.

The Department of Education (DepEd), in its report to the House appropriations committee, disclosed that it is facing a shortage of 12,418 classrooms; 1,744,237 school seats; 44,200,000 textbooks; 12,733 teachers and 24,709 principals.

The DepEd also noted that 21 percent of pupils are malnourished. Some 11.4 percent of pupils with ages 6-12 are iodine deficient; 37.4 percent suffer from iron deficiency anemia; 36 percent are vitamin A deficient; 67 percent of children suffer from intestinal worms; 97 percent have dental carries, 6.23 percent have hearing impairment; and 2.54 percent are visually impaired.

The measure, Gordon said, can address all these health concerns of the pupils with the money that can be generated from the estimated funds.

Gordon projected that the government can collect up to R73 billion from the HEAP program.

Half of text messages income should go to schools, health care – Gordon
By HANNAH L. TORREGOZA - Manila Buletin

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