PASIG CITY, August 25, 2017 – The Department of Education (DepEd) sought the help of Congress for amendments on the special provisions of the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of schools and Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF), and the restoration of the Quick Response Fund (QRF) during the Committee on Appropriations Hearing on DepEd’s proposed 2018 budget on August 22 at the House of Representatives.
Amending the special provisions of MOOE and BEFF
Undersecretary for Finance-Budget and Performance Monitoring Annalyn Sevilla underscored that amending the special provisions of MOOE and BEFF will help the Education Department in streamlining its disbursement of funds process.
“Kung mabibigyan kami ng special provision for the operation of school, under the MOOE, na pwedeng gamitin ng eskwelahan even for capital outlay requirement… Halimbawa, may kailangan silang [lighting] transformers o may kailangang i-repair sa eskwelahan, hindi nila nagagamit yung pondo doon dahil MOOE po yung classification nun,” Sevilla explained.
“Kung magkakaroon po ng special provision on that, may flexibility na yung school head na gamitin yan even for minor repairs or for purchase of [lighting] transformers… Mas makatutulong po ito sa pag-manage ng pondo na nasa eskwelahan,” Sevilla added.
Moreover, Sevilla mentioned the need for amending the special provision of the BEFF, “Isa pa rin po yung sa special provision ng school building, under the BEFF, dahil naka-specify lang ito for construction, repair, and rehabilitation.”
“Amendments on the special provisions of BEFF will also give flexibility to DepEd to fast track the utilization of funds for the school building program… Dahil sometimes, yun pong ready na dapat na paggastusan natin, yun po yung hindi na-allow sa budget. Yung po yung naka-pending,” Sevilla pointed out.
DepEd is set to send its recommended amendments to the special provisions of MOOE and BEFF to Nueva Ecija 3rd District Representative Rosanna Vergara, who proposed to file a bill to address the problem of DepEd in disbursing funds for its programs, and other members of the Committee on Appropriations.
Construction of CLCs for ALS
The Department also welcomed the proposal of Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. to file a bill that will enable the construction of community learning centers (CLCs) for Alternative Learning System (ALS) learners.
“Nagiging speaker ako sa mga ALS event, nagsasalita ako at natutuwa naman ako… Pero sinasabi ng ilan na wala raw silang school buildings. They just have their classes sailalim ng halaman o puno. So I’ll have a bill, Ma’am, kung pwede yung ALS learners natin also get classrooms or community learning centers,” Rep. Gonzales said.
Restoration of Quick Response Fund
Furthermore, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones and other DepEd Executive Committee (ExeCom) members also appealed for the restoration of the DepEd QRF, which was removed from the Department’s 2017 budget and re-allocated to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).
“The assumption was that DepEd is not involved in infrastructure so we don’t have to have the QRF… But natural disasters destroy school buildings,” Briones pointed out.
1Over the past year, DepEd has requested around P2 billion to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the repair of schools damaged by typhoons, earthquakes and other natural disasters. This is because there was no allocation for calamity-related repairs under the 2017 DepEd budget.
“This is where we can perhaps cooperate and help each other, na ma-release at ma-revive yung fund or we can create an item in the budget specifying that this will be for calamity-related repairs. Kasi we are allowed to repair,” Briones proposed.
The calamity-related fund will serve as standby fund for the repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction, or replacement of school buildings and facilities affected by calamities to normalize the situation as quickly as possible.