Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to prioritize the repair of schools damaged by Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut) and maximize the utilization of its Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF) for the repair and rehabilitation of school buildings.
Gatchalian issued the call after the DepEd revealed that some 7,007 schools in regions affected by Ompong, including the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Zamboanga, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and Metro Manila, sustained damage totaling at least P2.65 billion.
“Hindi po biro ang pitong libong paaralan na nasira. Sana ay bigyang prayoridad ang pagkukumpuni ng mga ito dahil kawawa naman ang libo-libong mga estudyante na hindi makakapasok at makakapag-aral dahil wala silang mga silid-aralan,” said the senator, who serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee.
“At para mas mabilis ang pagkukumpini sa mga nasirang paaralan, sana ay sundin nina Secretary Briones ang mga rekomendasyon ng Commission on Audit sa audit report ng DepEd para sa nakaarang taon upang magamit nang lubos ang budget sa BEFF,” the lawmaker added.
Gatchalian was referring to the 2017 annual audit report of COA for DepEd, which found that eight regions fell short of achieving the objective of improved physical facilities under DepEd’s BEFF for calendar years 2016 and 2017.
“Due to late issuance of sub-allotments from the Central Office, improper timing of projects during the schedule of classes and inadequate monitoring thereof resulted in the delayed completion of repair projects in 49 out of the 91 schools inspected and the poor workmanship/defects of the repairs done by contractors,” the audit report noted.
The BEFF is a lump sum amount appropriated annually starting in 2011 to address the classroom, water and sanitation facilities, and furniture requirements of schools.
“I hope that DepEd will ensure that allotment orders are issued by the Central Office on time and that regional and division offices are notified early about the allocated funds so that repair works are not unnecessarily delayed and the budget will not be underutilized,” Gatchalian said.
As of September 20, data from DepEd showed there were 1,115 schools totally damaged by Ompong, while 1,804 schools suffered “major damage,” and another 4,088 had “minor” damage.