What can you buy with DepEd’s P150M ‘confidential fund’? | Inquirer News

What can you buy with DepEd’s P150M ‘confidential fund’?

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:38 AM September 17, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The P150-million confidential fund being sought by the Department of Education (DepEd) in its proposed 2023 budget for “security”-related needs can be used instead to fill glaring shortages in public school supplies and equipment, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said on Thursday.

Instead of spending such a huge amount on “dubious activities,” the agency would be better served using the money to purchase 150,000 armchairs, 3 million textbooks, or 4,286 laptops for teachers at P35,000 apiece, according to the group.

“It can go a long way in (addressing the lack of) learning and teaching materials that hamper education recovery,” ACT chair Vladimer Quetua said in a statement.


“At a time of a grave learning crisis, apportioning such an amount for dubious activities purportedly to ward off the entry of supposed enemies of the state in the education sector is highly unjustified,” he added.


Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte defended the inclusion of the confidential funds in DepEd’s outlay for next year during the budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

She said the funds would be used to address issues in the education sector that required the help of the security cluster, such as the “sexual grooming of learners,” “recruitment in terrorism and violent extremism,” and “drug use of DepEd personnel.”


“These are not laid out for regular personnel to see; that is why we need the help of the security cluster and the security sector to address these issues and challenges to basic education,” Duterte said.

The daughter of former President Rodrigo Duterte said the success of any project, activity or program “really depends upon very good intelligence and surveillance because you want to target specific issues and challenges.”

But Quetua said the education department’s priorities seemed misplaced.

“If 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,” he said.

“It could have allocated the amount to DepEd’s child protection program which now has zero budget. It should have been earmarked for aboveboard items whose benefits to education can be concretely seen,” Quetua added.

Livelihood projects

The Office of the Vice President (OVP), also under Duterte, is seeking a separate P500 million in confidential funds for livelihood projects in conflict areas and basic social services and financial subsidies.

If approved, it would be be the first time in recent history that both DepEd and the OVP would receive such a large allocation for confidential expenses, with neither agency requesting and getting any during the six years of the previous administration.

The National Expenditure Program (NEP), the budget document prepared and submitted by the country’s economic managers to Congress for its approval, defines confidential expenses as surveillance-related activities in civilian government agencies, the release of which is subject to the approval of the head of the concerned agency.

A large part of it usually goes to the Office of the President (OP) and other agencies with surveillance needs, such as the military and the police.

The OP under the new Marcos administration is seeking a combined P4.5 billion in confidential and intelligence funds for 2023, the same amount received by its predecessor in its last three years.

At a press briefing on Thursday, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said the programs to be funded by the confidential funds fell within the mandate of the agency and was in compliance with Joint Circular No. 2015-01, the guidelines on the entitlement, release, use, reporting and audit of confidential and/or intelligence funds.

“These confidential funds will be used for programs, projects and activities of DepEd in line with national security and, of course, public safety,” he said.

“That is very much under the mandate of DepEd. Aside from improving … quality basic education, we also have to be in the forefront of protecting our learners,” Poa added.


But Quetua said DepEd might have another motivation in seeking the confidential funds.

He expressed concern that the allocation “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.”

“Our schools are not battle grounds,” he said.

“They are supposed to be safe spaces for learning which are now embattled with deep crisis. We call on the government to address our concrete problems that hinder education recovery and bring its wars elsewhere,” Quetua said.

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The total proposed 2023 budget of DepEd is P710.6 billion, higher than its current appropriation of P633.3 billion.


Sara Duterte: Give DepEd another P100B, we’ll fix PH education woes

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

TAGS: DepEd, Sara Duterte

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