VP Duterte urged to look into DepEd’s alleged failure to repair classrooms

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MANILA, Philippines  — Vice President Sara Duterte has been called to investigate the alleged failure of the Department of Education (DepEd) to renovate aging classrooms despite having a large budget for 2021.

Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. LRay Villafuerte cited findings from the Commission on Audit (COA) for its annual audit report of DepEd on Tuesday, stating that the repair and upgrading of furniture for 14 regional offices were not done properly.

According to Villafuerte, the DepEd, under former Secretary Leonor Briones, failed to repair 1,800 classrooms in Iriga City and 35 other towns by 2021 in his province alone. He feels Duterte, who also serves as President of DepEd, can address the matter.

“We are hopeful that Vice President and concurrent DepEd Secretary Inday Sara will look into her agency’s low achievement rate last year for its Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF) — as flagged by the COA — in the hope that the Department will, under her watch, put on the front burner the overdue makeover of almost 9,000 classrooms whose repair was already tucked in the BEFF’s P9.467-billion outlay in 2021,” the lawmaker said.

DepEd, on the other hand, is said to have neglected to transmit the monies to its local offices.

According to the lawmaker, the town of Pili, for example, was supposed to get P32.59 million for the renovation of classrooms in 16 schools. However, none of the schools were actually restored since DepEd allegedly refused to disburse cash.

According to the QRF, there were 121 schools in Iriga City and 22 municipalities that were meant to get P560.35 million for repairs, but the project was not funded, as it was in Pili.

“It was evidently a problem of low absorptive capacity and not a funding issue,” he added, noting that roughly 80 percent of the repair funds had been obligated to the DepEd the previous year.

Despite the problems that have been thrown at DepEd, Villafuerte is certain that its new administration, led by Sara Duterte, would be able to fix the situation.

“Given her outstanding record as a down-to-earth local chief executive while mayor of Davao City, I am confident Vice President and Secretary Inday Sara would not let this setback pass,” he continued.

The COA’s audit report of DepEd has recently been a hot subject, but most of the spotlight has been on the purchases made by the Procurement Service of DBM (PS-DBM), as the laptops intended for teachers were overpriced and outdated.

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