Sara defends DepEd's P150 million confidential funds
Education Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte on Wednesday defended the P150 million confidential funds for the Department of Education (DepEd) at the House budget deliberation.
During the House appropriations committee hearing, Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas asked Duterte what the Deped needed the confidential funds for, citing that the Office of the President (OVP) also had P500 million allotted for confidential funds.
“This (confidential funds) was not in the 2021 and 2022 GAA (General Appropriations Act),” Brosas argued.
In response, Duterte said the confidential funds for the department will be used to address security issues.
“As explained earlier, number one, the success of a project, activity, or program really depends upon very good intelligence in the surveillance because you want to target specific issues and challenges,” Duterte told the hearing.
“And because these specific issues and challenges are all illegal, like say for example, as previously mentioned, sexual grooming of learners, recruitment in terrorism and violent extremism, drug use of Deped personnel, these are not laid out for our regular personnel to see. That is why we need the help of the security cluster and the security sector to address issues and challenges to basic education. And as I said, basic education has a direct link to the national security of our country. We are truly interested in the quality of education of our learners,” she added.
Brosas questioned the use of confidential funds, noting the lack of school facilities such as classrooms and chairs.
“We already lack classrooms. We already lack chairs. We already lack textbook learning. Then we’re going to put confidential funds? This will not even be accounted. I hope that through this discussion, the funds go where they are supposed to go,” said Brosas.
A separate House hearing on the OVP’s proposed budget of P2.92 billion on Tuesday finished in 13 minutes.
House Minority Leader 4Ps Partylist Rep. Marcelino Libanan moved to end the House appropriations hearing. He was seconded by Zamboanga Rep. Mannix Dalipe.
“As the minority leader and as a courtesy of the whole House of Representatives by our speaker, all of us, while some members of the Makabayan bloc would like to provide questions on some new items in the budget, they would also provide questions in the plenary to extend our courtesy to the Office of the Vice President. And therefore Mr. House Speaker, I move to terminate the briefing of the Office of the Vice President,” he said.
Duterte thanked the committee and said she was open to collaborating with them.
“Thank you for your support for the programs of the Office of the Vice President. If there’s anything that we can do to help you as an office in your respective mandates, respective legislative districts, and party-lists, please do let us know. We are open to collaborations in helping our fellow Filipinos,” Duterte told the panel.
Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co, who chairs the appropriations committee expressed his support for the OVP’s proposed budget.
“The OVP is no longer just a passive office as originally envisioned but necessity must actively engage the people. Thus, we fully support the proposed P2.31 billion budget of the OVP for 2023,” Co said.
According to Co, the bulk of the budget will go to “good governance towards projects and the needed social services”. Jaspearl Tan/DMS