House to probe DepEd over P22.6M hand-washing facilities

By Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 24 2014 04:04 AM | Updated as of Jun 24 2014 12:04 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives will investigate the "unnecessary" purchase by the Department of Education (DepEd) of P22.6 million worth of hand-washing facilities for public schools that lack water supply.

The congressional investigation was prompted by House Resolution 736 filed by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development.

The resolution directed the House committees on basic education and culture, and good government and public accountability, to probe the DepEd for what the Commission on Audit (COA) described as “unnecessary expenditure” for hand-washing facilities.

Citing the COA report released on the third week of January 2014, Castelo said the DepEd spent P22,684,559.33 to build hand-washing facilities in schools in Misamis Oriental, Biliran, Navotas and Malabon two years ago.

But inspections by COA auditors found that most of the hand-washing facilities were not functional, not fully utilized and unnecessary as there were no available water resources in the targeted schools, he said.

“In Misamis Oriental, each hand washing project in 25 schools cost around P45,000 to P50,000 but only four or 16 percent are functional and the remaining 84 percent were found useless because of lack of water supply, absence of electrical connection, destroyed faucets and pipes, destroyed hand washing counters and dirty facility and surroundings,” he added.

State auditors had the same observation on the facilities in Navotas, Malabon and Biliran, with lack of water supply as the primary problem, Castelo said.

“It seemed that concerned officials did not consider the availability of water resources in the targeted schools and sanitation of the facilities pursuant to the DepEd order to ensure the sustainability of these facilities,” he said, citing the COA report.

“Had concerned officials exercised due diligence, schools with enough toilets and with water supply problem should not have been selected as beneficiaries and the funds could have been allocated to other projects,” he stressed.