ACT echoes LGUs’ sentiments: Where’s the support for educ from national govt?

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines shared the frustration of many local government units (LGUs) as they are once again made to shoulder the costs of the national government’s response to the unfolding nationwide crisis in education amid the pandemic and economic recession.

The group stressed that neither the Central Office of the Department of Education (DepEd) nor the President has provided additional funding to local implementors of the Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP).

“Among the major problems of the Duterte administration’s learning continuity plan for basic education is its costly implementation. Instead of decisively providing needed resources, the national government passes off its primary and basic duty of funding a shift as major as distance learning to LGUs, who we know are already stretched thin from the largely decentralized COVID-19 response. This is an unwelcome ‘new normal’ for the government, and it’s already getting old,” criticized ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

The statement came a day after Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla wrote an open letter to DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones calling out DepEd National’s ‘lack of contribution’ to its own education program, thereby obliging LGUs to shoulder 100% of the expenses while they grapple with limited resources amid the nationwide health and economic crises.

Remulla nonetheless assured that they have crafted the province’s educational plan, with emphasis on it being their locality’s response to a ‘NATIONAL problem.’

DepEd responded by citing six funding sources for the BE-LCP, namely: reprogrammed budget for PAPs; school MOOE; LGU-SEF; partnership with development partners and access to ODA; Brigada Eskwela; and Supplemental Budget request to DBM and/or Congress. Basilio pressed DepEd to make public the progress of such efforts to find funding.

“Amid mounting concerns among the general public, DepEd is hereby called to report on the recalibration and reprogramming of funds for PAPs as well as on the specifics on their request for additional budget from DBM and Congress (i.e., amount requested, response if any, updates, etc.). They shall likewise publicize how they plan to adjust DepEd’s 2020 budget, where it will be allotted, and the status of such. Because so far, all we’ve heard from them is their calls on LGUs, businesses, and ordinary Filipinos to contribute material support for the LCP,” hit Basilio.

He added that the requested reports will provide a ‘clearer picture’ on DepEd’s readiness and commitment to ensure safe and quality education for all.

ACT, however, noted that the question of the President’s role in ensuring the same remains unanswered.

“What’s the President’s part in all of these? Afterall, he did ask for emergency powers which granted him control of huge amount of the people’s coffers, plus the billions he has gathered from loans, grants, and donations for the country’s COVID-19 war chest. To this day, these funds remain unaccounted for and whatever report is available don’t include any allocation for learning continuity amid the pandemic. Further, what has DepEd done to clinch substantial support from President Duterte?” asked Basilio.

ACT demanded that these be sufficiently answered by DepEd and the President himself who is set to decide on the August 24 school opening tomorrow, July 15.