MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno S. Aquino III Thursday offered to donate his salary to efforts to repair public schools in case the government funds run dry.
The President, however, acknowledged that school authorities should not expect a large donation because his salary as the country's highest official is actually low.
"In case the funds are not enough, although (Education Secretary) Brother Armin (Luistro) expects a P2 billion fund this year, I am ready to give my salary to augment the funds," the President said in Filipino during a Brigada Eskwela event held in Apolinario Mabini Elementary High School in Quiapo, Manila.
"When you receive my salary, you might ask why the amount is only small. Remember the salary of a president of the Republic is not that huge," he said. The President receives a gross basic salary of P95,000 a month.
In offering his salary, Aquino explained that he noticed that the public elementary school still needed some repair despite the ongoing cleanup activity initiated by the Department of Education. Among the things Aquino saw during the school inspection were a broken drain spout and nails sticking out of a school chair.
School officials however immediately promised Aquino to complete the repair before the opening of classes next month.
"I will return to make sure that they have fulfilled their promise to us," the President said.
The education department has launched Brigada Eskwela 2012 to encourage the public to join its campaign to clean and repair around 45,000 public schools in preparation for the opening of classes next month.
The President thanked the school officials, parents and other volunteers helping spruce up the schools for the students.
He said the government will need more volunteers in Brigada Eskwela especially when the government finally eliminates the classroom shortage by 2013.
He said the classroom shortage will be resolved through educational reforms and investment programs such as the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program.
Upon assuming office in 2010, Aquino said the education department reported a shortage of more than 60,000 classrooms for students to use.
So far, he said the government has built more than 10,000 new classrooms. An additional 30,000 classrooms will be constructed before the end of the year. "By next year, every student will be given quality education inside a quality classroom," he said.