MANILA – Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian gave another pitch for the highly contested K to 12 program of the Department of Education, stressing its timeliness and importance for the Filipino youth.

Gatchalian said expanding the Philippine higher education through technical-vocational track under the K to 12 program will make the country more competitive “if it can be executed properly and effectively.”

“Definitely, tech-voc is very important. And the beauty with K to 12 is technical vocational is already included in tech-voc for free,” Gatchalian said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.

The lawmaker said it is high time to have the program implemented, noting that the Philippines is one of the only few countries that has not yet adopted the education system.

“We are still very far in terms of spending for education. But I think we are moving on the right track starting with K to 12,” he said.

Gatchalian said the challenge for the program’s success lies in the next administration come 2016 elections. Full implementation of K to 12 will start next June.

“We have to make sure that these kids have books, have classrooms, have teachers, and make sure that the budget is being spent,” the lawmaker said.

Gatchalian, who has served Valenzuela as three-term mayor and two-term representative, is now running for senator under the senatorial ticket of Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero with the promise of bringing his advocacy for education if he wins in the upcoming polls.

“With my experience and going around and talking to our constituents on a daily manner, I know how higher education is a big factor in their lives,” he said.

He also said that one of the reasons he joined Poe’s slate is their common view on strengthening the youth.

“I am very happy to see that Senator Grace Poe also is fighting for youth concerns and also for education, especially malnutrition,” Gatchalian said.