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Monday, April 27, 2009

Chiz wants more cops, teachers, doctors to match rising population

The government should stop paying lip service to critical sectors of society such as education, peace and order, and health and immediately act by filling up the shortages of teachers, policemen, and physicians in the country, Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday.

"The government should immediately fill up the shortage in policemen, teachers, and doctors in the country because they are frontline personnel who provide vital and essential services that move our country forward," Escudero said.

He said that while partylist representation in the House of Representatives is indexed to its total membership as the Supreme Court ruled recently, so, too must government index the number of policemen, doctors, and teachers to the increasing population which now stands at 88.57 million.

 "The principle of proper representation is a foundation of a vibrant democratic society. To deny the people this is to deny them the benefits of democracy," Escudero said.

 "Take education, for instance. We have 522,990 public school teachers as of 2008. The additional requirement, based on government's own data, is 39,762 for this year. However, only 10,000 teachers will be hired this year, leaving a shortage of 29,762," he said.

What is lamentable, the senator said, is that with the projected increase in enrollments in public schools this coming school year by about 500,000 pupils, this will mean 12,500 new teachers.

"We cannot afford to sacrifice the quality of education in the country," he said.

In the case of policemen, Escudero said Republic Act 6975 provides that the manning levels of the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall be approximately in accordance with the ideal police-population ratio of one cop for every 500 persons.

"As of March 2005, the ratio was 1:729. This is unacceptable, and this is one of the reasons why the government has been unsuccessful in effectively addressing criminality," he said.

He said there are presently 125,893 policemen, of which half are available for beat patrol everyday. Based on a three-shift schedule, Escudero estimated that there are only about 20,000 policemen on duty at a given time.

With a projected increase in the population by 1.9 million, the senator said the policeman-population ratio of 1:500 means there should be about 177,000 policemen. "The backlog is roughly 50,000 policemen; the government will only hire 3,000 this year. This is simply unacceptable," Escudero said.

At the same time, Escudero said the shortage of government doctors has already reached alarming levels. He said there is one government doctor for every 29,000 Filipinos as of end-2006, including those assigned to administrative duties.

"The ideal ratio, according to the World Health Organization, should be one doctor for every 10,000 patients. In the United States the ratio is 1:450. But in Cuba, a developing country like the Philippines, it is 1:225.

"We cannot invoke demographic reasons in packing the Batasan to the rafters and at the same time reject the same standard as to the number of people who make us well and keep us safe," Escudero said.

 "If the government is putting more people to stand on the floor of Congress, then it can no less than put more teachers in classrooms, more doctors in health centers to treat our sick, and more policemen in the streets to protect us," he added.


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