Gatchalian to DepEd: Repair schools damaged by ‘Ompong’

An Ompong-damaged school (DM Mabborang image)

The Department of Education (DepEd) should prioritize the repair of schools damaged by Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut) and maximize the utilization of its Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF) for the repair and rehabilitation of school buildings, Senator Win Gatchalian said Thursday.

Gatchalian issued the call after the DepEd revealed that some 7,007 schools in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Zamboanga, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and Metro Manila sustained damage totaling at least P2.65 billion due to Ompong.

“Hindi po biro ang pitong libong paaralan na nasira. Sana ay bigyang prayoridad ang pagkukumpuni ng mga ito dahil kawawa naman ang libo-libong mga estudyante na hindi makakapasok at makakapag-aral dahil wala silang mga silid-aralan,” said the senator, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Education Committee.

(The 7,000 schools that were damaged is no joke. Hopefully, their repair is given priority because the thousands of students who won’t be able to study because they have no classroom will be pitiful.)

“At para mas mabilis ang pagkukumpini sa mga nasirang paaralan, sana ay sundin nina Secretary Briones ang mga rekomendasyon ng Commission on Audit sa audit report ng DepEd para sa nakaarang taon upang magamit nang lubos ang budget sa BEFF,” the lawmaker added.

(For the repair to be fast, Secretary Briones should follow the recommendation of the Commission on Audit to the audit report of DepEd for last year so the budget in BEFF can be fully utilized.)

Gatchalian was referring to the 2017 annual audit report of COA for DepEd, which found that eight regions fell short of achieving the objective of improved physical facilities under DepEd’s BEFF for calendar years 2016 and 2017.

“Late issuance of sub-allotments from the Central Office, improper timing of projects during the schedule of classes and inadequate monitoring thereof resulted in the delayed completion of repair projects in 49 out of the 91 schools inspected and the poor workmanship/defects of the repairs done by contractors,” the audit report noted.

The BEFF is a lump sum amount appropriated annually starting in 2011 to address the classroom, water and sanitation facilities, and furniture requirements of schools.

“I hope that DepEd will ensure that allotment orders are issued by the Central Office on time and that regional and division offices are notified early about the allocated funds so that repair works are not unnecessarily delayed and the budget will not be underutilized,” Gatchalian said.

As of 20 September, data from DepEd showed there were 1,115 schools totally damaged by Ompong, while 1,804 schools suffered “major damage,” and another 4,088 had “minor” damage.

p: wjg