The Department of Education (DepEd) intends to ramp up spending on an allocation of close to P100 billion for school buildings lodged in its budget for 2014 and 2015.
“We are happy to mention that, for the 2014 and 2015 budgets, as of this quarter, we have already identified the school buildings. And as we speak, we are starting documentation of the 2016 school building projects, so that, once the 2016 budget is approved, by January we can start working with haste before the construction ban [in view of the upcoming election period],” DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro FSC said.
“Even if there are what you may call hiccups with these delays, we are confident that (projects for) 2014 and 2015 are in place. We are hoping there will be no major failure in the biddings,” he added.
Around P44 billion remained unspent in the DepEd’s budget for school buildings under its 2014 budget, while around P53.88 billion remained under the 2015 budget, according to Luistro.
For 2016, the DepEd’s budget proposal was pegged at P433.47 billion, which showed an increase of P66.35 billion from its 2015 budget of P367.12 billion.
The proposed budget will be used to hire an additional 40,000 teachers for senior high school and another 25,000 for kinder to grade 10.
Davao Representative Isidro Ungab, appropriations committee chairperson, reminded DepEd to move fast in identifying its school building projects for 2016 so these can start early next year and avoid the construction ban due to the May elections.
“I am saying this now because October is already the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy (COC). Next year is election time, and we will surely have a construction ban. It will include school buildings for construction by the DPWH. There should be no delay in the identification of school buildings,” Ungab said.
Ungab said that upon checking on the DepEd budget, he found out that some of the agency’s funds for its school building projects in 2014 were used only this year.
“Assuming that we pursue the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) proposal in the National Expenditure Program that the budget (of agencies) will be good only for one year, we surely cannot finish the disbursements because the 2014 budget alone has not yet been fully used,” he said.
The lawmaker asked the DepEd to submit to the appropriations committee the systematic procedures being followed by DepEd in identifying school buildings. “What are the procedures you’ve been using in identifying school buildings because it seems to us your identification system is rather slow,” Ungab added.