Drilon scores high cost of classroomsBy Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Senator Franklin Drilon wants to know why the Department of Education spends more than twice what he does from his pork barrel to construct a public school classroom.
He is not saying that the DepEd’s paying P730,000 for a 63-square-meter classroom is irregular, but it is “insanely high” compared to the P325,000 he spends for the same-sized classroom through a partnership with a private business group, said Drilon, the chairman of the Senate finance committee.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro, who was in the Senate with other education officials for a budget hearing Tuesday, said the DepEd had completed 1,495 classrooms last year that were financed through the pork barrel of legislators.
For the current schoolyear, the DepEd has allocated P4 billion for the construction of classrooms through the Private Public Partnership (PPP) program.
Of that amount, the construction of 9,301 classrooms has so far been bid out for P1.65 billion.
During Education Undersecretary Francis Varela’s presentation, Drilon noted that the DepEd spends P1.25 million to construct a classroom in a two-story building, and P730,000 for a classroom in a single-story building.
“That’s almost the cost of a multi-story condominium,” the senator said.
Varela noted that the cost included toilets, corridors and furniture. He could not give the figures, per square meter of each classroom, however.
“If it’s a single-story building, why should there be a corridor?” Drilon said.
The senator said that from 2002 to 2007 during the Arroyo administration, he spent P250 million of his pork barrel, and through a partnership with the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., built 1,400 classrooms measuring 49 sqm (7 x 7 sqm) at only P178,500 each.
Since his reelection in 2010, Drilon said P115 million of his pork barrel was spent for 400 classrooms in the public schools measuring 63 sqm (7 x 9 sqm). The first 200 classrooms cost only P250,000 each to build. The rest cost P325,000.
Drilon said he had chosen to partner with the Chinese chamber as the federation had been doing such programs since the 1960s.
“This is a far cry from your P730,000 per room on comparative analysis,” the senator told education officials.