A Bicol lawmaker on Tuesday called on Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte to look into the reported failure of the previous leadership of the Department of Education (DepEd) to fix and equip thousands of classrooms with chairs and tables despite having a P9.5 billion budget last year.
“We are hopeful that Vice President and concurrent DepEd Secretary Inday Sara (Duterte-Carpio) could look into her agency’s low accomplishment rate last year for its Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF)—as flagged by the COA (Commission on Audit)—in the hope that the Department could, on 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,” Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said.
“Considering her solid record as a down-to-earth local chief executive when she was mayor of Davao City, I am sure Vice President and Secretary Inday Sara will not let this setback slide,” he added.
A three-term governor before his election to the House of Representatives, Villafuerte said that “in Camarines Sur alone, the DepEd failed last year to patch up more than 1,800 classrooms in Iriga City and 35 municipalities, even if the refurbishment of these facilities was already included in last year’s allocations for the BEFF and QRF (Quick Response Fund) for school repair and provision of new furniture for both students and their teachers.”
Villafuerte cited as reference to the 2021 audit report on the DepEd by the COA, which bared that only 2,689 or 23.45 percent of the 11,468 classrooms funded for repair in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) were actually restored last year.
“It was apparently a matter of low absorptive capacity and not a funding issue,” said Villafuerte, “given that nearly 80% of the repair budget had been obligated to the DepEd last year.”
Citing the COA report, he said that as of Dec. 31 last year, a total of P7.483 billion or 79.04 percent of the BEFF budget had already been obligated, leaving only P1.984 or 20.96 percent of the total allocation unused.
Villafuerte, in citing the same COA report, said that in Camarines Sur, a total of 1,405 classrooms in 296 schools in 35 municipalities were supposed to have received a combined BEFF allocation of P451.66 million last year for repair, but none of these projects was funded.