After P8-B realignment, DepEd asks DBM: 'No further' budget cuts for COVID-19 countermeasures

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 11 2020 06:08 PM

After P8-B realignment, DepEd asks DBM: 'No further' budget cuts for COVID-19 countermeasures 1
FILE PHOTO: Two students wear masks while in school, a month before the government suspended classes due to the threat of COVID-19, February 3, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday said it has asked the Department of Budget and Management to avoid further reallocations of portions of its budget to coronavirus-related projects after P8.2 billion was slashed from the agency's funding.

While the President is authorized to realign agency funds to address the coronavirus crisis under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the DepEd also needs funds to prepare teachers in delivering lessons through online, television, radio and printed materials.

"We wrote to DBM requesting no further deduction because of the learning continuity plan," DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla said in a Senate hearing.

Of the realigned funds, P5 billion was taken from the agency's Last Mile School Program, which sought to build schools and classrooms in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, according to a chart presented during the Senate Committee on Basic Education hearing.

The rest of the sum was taken from the following programs:

  • Government Assistance and Subsidies - Voucher Program for Private Senior High Schools - P1.47 billion
  • School-based feeding program - P500 million
  • Government Assistance and Subsidies - ESC Program for Private Junior High School - P273 million
  • Operations of Elementary Schools - P250 million
  • Operations of Junior High Schools - P250 million
  • Special Education Program - P107 million
  • Human Resource Development for Personnel in Schools and Learning Centers - P104 million
  • Computerization Program - P102 million
  • Improvement and Acquisition of School Sites - P85 million
  • Government Assistance and Subsidies - Voucher Program for Non-DepEd Public School - P50 million
  • General Management and Supervision - P47.58 million
  • Physical Fitness and School Sports - P20 billion
  • Basic Education Curriculum - P15 billion
  • Teacher Quality and Development Program - P1.43 million
  • Basic Education Facilities - P1.08 million

Senate Committee on Basic Education chair Sherwin Gatchalian said he is worried that the P1.4-million budget cut for the voucher program for high schools may affect some 60,000 student beneficiaries.

"We're cutting where it is needed... The voucher program is a good program that can hit 2 birds with one stone. Makakapag aral-na, matutulungan pa mga school (Students can study, and schools can get help)," Gatchalian said.

"If we want to reach out to the marginalized sector, 'wag natin dapat i-cut itong mga ito... kasi sila ang tatamaan e sila nga 'yung gusto nating matulungan (let us not cut this because the ones to be affected are the ones we want to help)," he said.

Private schools earlier asked the Senate for aid as some 2 million students are expected to either transfer to public schools or drop out after their families' finances were affected by the 2-month long lockdown in Luzon and other parts of the country.

As of June 11, nearly 10 million students have enrolled in primary and secondary schools nationwide. The number is only 36 percent of the DepEd's expected number of students for school year 2020-2021.

The enrollment period will end on June 30, 2020.