ACT asks DepEd to reallocate P150M 'confidential funds' to learning needs | Inquirer News

ACT asks DepEd to reallocate P150M ‘confidential funds’ to learning needs

/ 05:50 PM September 16, 2022
DepEd confidential funds ACT

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MANILA, Philippines — An alliance of teachers is calling on the Department of Education (DepEd) to consider reallocating its P150 million “confidential funds” to address shortages in learning needs.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chairperson Vladimer Quetua said the amount could cover the purchase of laptops, books, and the hiring of school security personnel.

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“P150 million can already procure 150,000 armchairs, or about three million textbooks, or 4,286 laptops for teachers at P35,000 per unit. It can go a long way in providing for the lacking learning and teaching materials that hamper education recovery,” Quetua said in a statement on Thursday.

“If the DepEd is really concerned with the safety and security of our schools, it could have allotted the amount to hire security personnel in schools, which right now are sorely lacking. It could have allocated the amount to DepEd’s child protection program, which now has zero budget. It should have been earmarked for above board items which benefit to education can be concretely seen,” he added.

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The union’s chairperson also raised a concern that the funds could be allocated to “dubious activities purportedly to ward off the entry of supposed enemies of the State in the education sector.”

“We are concerned that this amount will only be used to fund red-tagging seminars that attack our legitimate unions, or subject our teachers, employees and students to profiling and surveillance. Iimbestigahan n’yo na rin ba kami kung may kamag-anak kaming miyembro ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan gaya nang itinutulak ni Sen. Francis Tolentino?” Quetua said.

(Will you also investigate us if we have relatives who are part of progressive groups similar to Senator Francis Tolentino’s proposal?)

He added that the confidential funds could be used to restrict the rights to privacy, organization, and free expression.

“If any, these confidential funds can only accomplish one thing: trample on our basic rights to privacy, to organization, and free expression,” he noted.

Based on the National Expenditure Program, the education sector has a proposed budget of P710 billion for 2023.

Under this budget, P150 million is tagged as “confidential funds.”

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During Wednesday’s House appropriations committee budget briefing of the department, Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte defended the said confidential fund and cited the “direct link” between basic education and national security.

She then cited several issues the department faces, including the sexual grooming of learners, youth recruitment to terrorism, and the drug use of DepEd workers.

“That is why we need the help of the security cluster and the security sector to address these issues and challenges to basic education. And as I said, basic education has a direct link to our country’s national security,” she added.

Aside from the DepEd, the Office of the Vice President also has confidential funds amounting to P500 million targeted to be used for national security purposes.

The Vice President earlier argued that the confidential funds of the OVP and the DepEd must be treated independently as they are two separate entities with different mandates. — Christian Paul Dela Cruz INQUIRER.net trainee

/MUF/abc
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TAGS: ACT, Confidential Funds, DepEd
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