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NegOcc solon emphasizes the importance of education in achieving long-term development.

SILAY CITY, PHILIPPINES — When Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez of the Negros Occidental (3rd District) begins his second term on June 30, the importance of education in the country’s progress will be highlighted once more.

Benitez took his oath of office in front of this city’s mayor, Mark Golez, on Saturday.

The cities of Talisay, Silay, and Victorias, as well as the municipalities of Murcia and E.B. Magalona, make up the third district.

“Education is essential. “We must teach youngsters not only how to read and write, but also how to think – to solve issues and navigate complex systems that define our world,” Benitez said in his district address at the Magikland events center.

Before becoming a congressman in 2019, Benitez was the president of the family-founded Philippine Women’s University. In his speech, he said, “What is clear is that we need to invest not only in physical infrastructure for sustainable development but the infrastructure that facilitates the efficient flow of resources.”

“However, we must also invest in cognitive infrastructure to catalyze the flow of ideas and enhance stewardship and sustainability ideals,” he added.

Benitez helped to establish the Congressional Commission on Education in the 18th Congress, which was charged with evaluating the country’s educational system and recommending improvements to improve lifelong learning and adapt the population to the demands of a changing economy and society.

“All that’s left is for President (Rodrigo Duterte) to sign it,” he said.

Recognizing the importance of private schools in improving education, he introduced House Bill (HB) 9573, which became Republic Act 11635, which gives private schools tax relief to help them cope with dwindling enrolment as a result of the pandemic and allows them to invest their tax savings in transitioning to flexible learning methods.

Benitez filed HB 6749, which was incorporated into HB 9004 and passed by Congress, to build community learning centers with internet connections and digital devices.

“We’ve already created multipurpose facilities in the third district that can accommodate learning activities and assemblies that will strengthen our sense of community.” We have sponsored the construction or refurbishment of multi-purpose structures in 94 locations across the district from 2019 to this year,” he stated.

Benitez will begin “Batang K” this year, a youth development initiative that will offer a variety of activities for young people, including art workshops, sports clinics, academic mentorship, and peer counseling.

He also introduced two legislation to create the Negros Occidental High School for Arts and Design in Silay and the Negros Occidental High School for Sports in E.B. Magalona.

“In the 19th Congress, I’ll also work for the institutionalization of ESD, or Education for Sustainable Development, or the incorporation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s principles, concepts, and facts,” Benitez added.

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