By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday vowed to ask officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) to explain the alleged irregularities that state auditors have found based on its performance audit report on the agency.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, is referring to the Commission on Audit (COA) annual audit report that found that DepEd has over P13.898 billion in undocumented expenses incurred in 2018.
“The DepEd must explain and offer adequate documentation to support the P13.898-billion expenses it incurred in 2018 that have been flagged by the COA,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“But while DepEd has assured the COA that its future transactions will be supported by complete documentary requirements as prescribed by law, it still has to explain the quite honestly more disturbing red flags made by state auditors,” he said.
For one, Gatchalian said DepEd should explain why more than P254 million worth of learning materials for Grade 3 pupils in Araling Panlipunan, Science, and English are riddled with errors despite the agency’s supposed three-step review process.
“It is appalling and unacceptable that the Grade 3 Araling Panlipunan Learner’s Material had a mind-boggling 1,308 errors,” he said.
Gatchalian also questioned why there are more than three million books and other learning materials supposedly intended for public schools nationwide left unused in dilapidated DepEd warehouses.
“If we want to improve the performance of our students, then we must also elevate the quality of learning materials they are given,” Gatchalian said.
“The Senate Committee on Basic Education will do everything to exert accountability. We will make sure that hard-earned taxpayers’ money will never go to waste and corruption,” the lawmaker stressed.
COA, in its report, said that the unused learning materials bought from 2014 to 2017 have been idle for so long that it may soon qualify under “Irregular, Unnecessary, Excessive, Extravagant and Unconscionable expenditures.”
According to the COA, of the 3.4 million idle learning materials, 1.6 million were procured in 2015, 1.2 million in 2016, 440,591 in 2014, and 128,111 in 2017.
Due to its findings, the COA tasked officials of the DepEd to submit missing documents to avoid audit suspensions and to refrain from conducting out-of-town meeting/seminar/conference unless extremely necessary.
COA has also tasked DepEd to strictly comply with the prescribed rules and regulations on the payment of salaries and wages, monetization, traveling/training, fuel, oil and lubricants, repairs and improvements, and other expenses; and ensure that all disbursements/utilization of government funds are authorized and properly documented.