AN opposition House leader yesterday opposed the proposal of Sen. Francis Escudero to create a whole new Department of Culture at the cost of at least P2 billion yearly.
“We don’t really need another large and expensive bureaucracy such as a Department of Culture because we already have the National Commission for Culture and the Arts,” said House senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, a former three-term mayor of Manila.
“What we absolutely need now is the immediate reintegration of culture and sports back into our public school system,” Atienza, a longtime champion of culture and sports and development, said.
Atienza has been batting for the “simple and practical reorganization” of the Department of Education (DepEd) into the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS).
“Our proposal is far less bureaucratic and won’t cost taxpayers extra money, because we will just be restoring two bureaus under the DepEd – one for culture and one for sports. And these bureaus may be run by existing DepEd officials,” Atienza said.
Atienza said his House Bill (HB) No. 2628 merely seeks to rectify the blunder committed by Congress when it passed the Governance of Basic Education Act in 2001.
That law reorganized the previous DECS into what is now the DepEd and effectively disconnected culture and sports from the school system, according to Atienza.
“Once we have the DECS back, we should be able to properly guide the youth towards conserving our rich history and heritage, promoting arts and culture, strengthening their minds and bodies, and molding them into leaders and custodians of our nation’s future,” Atienza said.
Escudero’s proposed Department of Culture Act is up for plenary approval at the Senate, where he is chairman of the Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.
Senate Bill (SB) No. 1528 seeks an initial appropriation of P2 billion for the new department on its first full year of operation alone.
The senator’s mother, Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero, is pushing for the counterpart bill in the House.