MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte appealed to the public to give him until the end of the week to allocate funds for the purchase of transistor radios which will be used for poor students in far-flung areas as schools across the country shift to distance learning.

Duterte said he is eyeing the purchase of transistor radios, which cost around PHP300, to aid distance learning for students and teachers without access to television, cellphones, computers, and the internet.

“We will try to come up with something in the next few days. Maybe before the end of the week, I would be able to look for the money. Wala na tayong pera ngayon (We don’t have funds now). I would look for the money to buy transistor radios to be distributed all throughout the country,” he said in a meeting streamed late Monday night.

He admitted that while it might not be possible to bring distance learning to all far-flung barangays, the government “will try.”

Since the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is expected to last until a vaccine is developed, Duterte said students should continue learning so as not to waste time.

“Baka kung magtagal ito talaga, sayang ang panahon (If this might last longer, time will be wasted), we might buy the radio at 300,” he said.

He has remained firm in his stand not to allow face-to-face classes unless a vaccine against Covid-19 is available.

“Even without face — without a face there, as long as you are really interested to learn,” he said.

In the same meeting, Education Secretary Leonor Briones vowed to work closely with local government units (LGUs) to ensure that students obtain learning modules from their respective barangays (villages).

She also bared that she had discussed with local officials the government’s plan to utilize local radio stations to broadcast lessons for students.

“I just talked with one of them. And at the regional level, the regional directors are also negotiating with the local radio stations na — so that we can reduce the cost,” she said.

The government is also eyeing to tap state-run and private television and radio firms for “education purposes”.

As of mid-May, the government has secured USD4.55 billion in foreign loans from multilateral lenders and the commercial markets to boost the government’s ongoing Covid-19 response, the Department of Finance said.

The foreign loans were secured from the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and other multilateral lenders. (PNA)