Pimentel questions budget increase for DepEd voucher program
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III questioned on Saturday the proposed budget increase for the Department of Education’s (DepEd) voucher program, asking for assurance that the grants will go to the program’s intended beneficiaries.
“This voucher program being administered by the Department of Education has ballooned exponentially to a tune of P39.326 billion under the 2023 National Expenditures Program from only P16.534 billion this year,” Pimentel said in a statement.
Pimentel also pointed out how the Senior High School (SHS) Voucher Program had the biggest increase, and yet was underutilized by DepEd in 2021.
According to the Commission on Audit 2021 report, the SHS Voucher Program only benefitted 1,107,083 students, whereas the DepEd’s target was to distribute the vouchers to 1,417,613 students.
In addition to this, Pimentel noted that the target number of SHS Voucher beneficiaries for 2023 also dropped despite the proposed budget increase. From 2022’s 1.383 million target beneficiaries, DepEd lowered its goal down to 1.132 million.
Pimentel also asked the DepEd to explain why it is asking for a “subscription expense” amounting to P2.563 billion for 2023, whereas the budget for 2022 is only P24.68 million.
“I am not saying that I am against it or it is anomalous. But I wanted to be clarified because this is such a huge increase that should not skip scrutiny,” said Pimentel.
Deped’s proposed budget, now at P709 billion, was also scrutinized by other lawmakers. During the agency’s House appropriations committee budget briefing, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas questioned the DepEd’s proposed P150 million in confidential funds.
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte defended the proposed confidential funds saying that “the success of a project, activity or program really depends on very good intelligence and surveillance because you want to target specific issues and challenges.”
Sara Duterte defends DepEd’s confidential funds: Basic education has ‘direct link’ to nat’l security
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