Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday expressed misgivings on the accessibility of the virtual learning system proposed by the Department of Education (DepEd) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Drilon underscored that the safety of the students should always be of "primordial consideration."
The senator said that while the learning continuity plan of the DepEd is admirable, the reality is that internet access remains to be a problem for many Filipinos.
"The internet in the country remains the most expensive yet the slowest among Asian countries. I do not see how virtual classes being proposed by the DepEd can be effectively implemented across all sectors. The poor will be at a disadvantage here," he said.
The DepEd, for its part, has previously said printed modules, as well as radio- and TV-based instructions will also be maximized to reach students without internet access.
Despite the DepEd's previous pronouncements that the school year will start on August 24 with the use of "blended" forms of learning, Duterte on Monday said classes should remain suspended until a vaccine for COVID-19 is made available.
Drilon said a measure is being prepared in the Senate to allow the opening of classes beyond August.
"Republic Act 7977 allows the opening of classes to take place 'not later than the last day of August.' The government should decide on this. I just signed today the committee report authorizing the President to set the start of the school year in the event of a declaration of a state of emergency, state of calamity or similar occurrence such as the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said education is an essential service that must not be impeded by the health crisis.
"If we can figure out opening of restaurants, which are non-essential, then all the more we must allow our children to go back to school. Surely, we can adopt protocols to keep our children safe," he said. —KG, GMA News