House panel approves bill seeking to rationalize DepEd fund distribution
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on Monday House Bill No. 3174, which seeks to rationalize the distribution of the Department of Education (DepEd) budget, to fight the prevailing classroom shortage in the country.
The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture approved the bill during its hearing.
The bill, which was authored by Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto, seeks to amend the Fair and Equitable Access to Education Act (Republic Act No. 7880).
Specifically, the bill would amend Section 4 of RA No. 7880 by changing how the DepEd would allocate its capital outlay, according to this distribution:
- 20 percent will be allocated pro-rata according to the student population of each legislative district in relation to the total student population nationwide
- 70 percent will allocated only among those legislative districts with classroom shortages, pro-rata to the total classroom shortage of the country pursuant to Section 4(c) as determined by the DepEd
- 10 percent will allocated to national high schools as determined by the DepEd
Two new sections are also inserted after Section 5 of the law, which would require the executive branch to increase allocation to DepEd’s capital outlay by 20 percent, to ensure that the country bridges gaps in the classroom shortage.
The DepEd, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Public Works and Highways are required to submit reports to respective committees of both the House and the Senate regarding the utilization of capital outlay.
Section 5 of the law will also be amended to ensure sanitation in the school facilities, by inserting a phrase that would mandate the construction of appropriate toilets or sanitation facilities that would be “in accordance with the school sanitation and health services chapter of the Code on Sanitation of the Philippines”.
Classroom shortage has been a recurring problem in the Philippines, which has also been the source of intense debates between government officials.
During the Senate deliberation of the proposed 2024 budget of the DepEd, officials admitted a shortage of 165,433 classrooms, which would need P420 billion to address.
The data has led ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro to question the executive’s decision to give the education sector just P924.7 billion for 2024.
This, she said, was not at par with the standard set by the United Nations — that a government must spend 6 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education.
With a GDP of P25.40 trillion, Castro maintained that the budget for education should at least be P1.525 trillion — and not just four percent or P920 billion.