MANILA — Sen. Pia Cayetano wants the Department of Education to explain how the agency will use the P150-million confidential funds under its proposed 2023 budget.
According to the lawmaker, this is her first time to hear that DepEd is seeking such funds.
"I want to find out paano ba nagagamit 'yung funds na 'yan and will they be the one to administer it and how will they use it?" Cayetano told ANC's "Headstart" on Monday.
"Kailangan ba ng ganung kalaki? Kasi kung maliit lang 'yun, I think wala na tayong pinag-usapan, 'di ba?"
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte earlier said the confidential fund would be used for programs against "sexual grooming," "active shooter copycats," "insurgency recruitment" of children, and drug involvement of learners.
While DepEd's purpose of having confidential funds is good, Cayetano wants clarity in the agency's role in supposedly protecting children.
"I'm just trying to get a better grasp on whether they handle these actual protective steps such that they have to handle this kind of funding and does it have to be that much?" she said.
Critics have proposed rechanneling the proposed confidential funds to other DepEd programs.
A lawmaker has said such funding could be used for programs catering to learners with disabilities, which received zero allocation in DepEd's budget for next year.
The agency, in a statement, said it initially allocated P532 million for SPED in its proposed 2023 budget but "was not considered in the National Expenditure Program".
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers has said the confidential funds could also be used to "fill in the many shortages" in public school supplies.