Philippines: The unsung PPP

Prof. Leonor Briones

Much is made of the public-private partnership (PPP). This is where the public and private sectors combine to produce outcomes which are favorable to the nation. In practice, this has meant Luzon-based transportation infrastructure projects. Visayas and Mindanao have been largely left out. President Duterte will change this. Which is partly why a whopping 62 percent of Mindanaoans voted for him. In a presidential contest where there were four highly supported candidates, this is a remarkable mandate.

But the biggest and best-supported PPP is to be found in the world of education. Here, the private sector, consisting of students and their families, combine with the public sector in the hitherto unlovely form of the Department of Education (DepEd) to produce an educated populace. We do not forget the students’ families who often make incredible sacrifices in order that the student can realize his or her potential.

For a dozen or so years we have had the Brigada Eskwela program wherein parents and others donated time and money during the summer to make schools ready for occupancy when the students returned in June. Sadly, what started out as a splendid example of volunteerism has changed its character somewhat so that a coercive dimension has crept in. Empty threats are reported wherein education officials hint darkly that students will not be able to enroll if parents do not support the program.

It is a truism that many of those who succeed at the highest levels of academe come from economically-straitened backgrounds.


The 2016 presidential election was substantially fought on whether voters wanted more of the same as embodied by Mar Roxas, or whether the electorate wanted the possibility of potentially radical changes.

Voters chose radical changes. A high risk but potentially high rewards for people’s livelihoods.

President Duterte has chosen Dr. Leonor Briones to be Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd). Her advocacy of the alternative learning system (ALS) is aimed at those who, for one reason or another, have not benefitted from the formal education system. Consequently, many are not literate. One of the United Nations’ millennium development goals is for 100 percent of children to complete elementary education. It is to be hoped that ALS will help the Philippines achieve this goal.


Briones has an impressively wide resumé. Prior to her appointment as DepEd Secretary, she was responsible for Social Watch Philippines. From 1998-2001, she was national treasurer. The 2016 budget for education is almost P440 billion, the largest by far of any government department.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokono has proposed a 2017 government budget of around P3.3 trillion, approximately 10 percent greater than 2016. This indicates that the education budget will be around P480 billion in 2017.

I hope that Briones will be clear as to what will be achieved with the education budget. The chronic lack of resources need to be addressed.

On Wednesday, I shall amplify some current education issues.

By Neil Honeyman. Source: Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 18, 2016.