Minority solons want probe on DepEd’s textbook, school building woes

Published August 21, 2019, 4:18 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture has been urged to look into the failure of the Department of Education (DepEd) to effectively and fully implement its programs related to textbooks, and other learning materials, and basic education facilities.

Rep. Bienvenido 'Benny' Abante Jr. (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Rep. Bienvenido ‘Benny’ Abante Jr. (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)

House Minority Leader Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr. led the filing of House Resolution 257, seeking a congressional probe on the supposed irregularities at the DepEd, as disclosed in the 2018 Commission on Audit (COA) report.

“There is a need for the DepEd to fully explain their failure to address the problems on textbooks and school building affecting its two major programs, since these are noted annually by the Commission on Audit and hence perpetual, and affecting billions of pesos,” Abante said in the three-page resolution.

Joining Abante in filing HR 257 were the 16 other lawmakers belonging to the House Minority bloc, including the Makabayan House members.

The minority lawmakers noted that on the top of the COA reports on the DepEd budget in the previous fiscal years, which had already observed shortcomings in the implementation of its programs, the state auditors, in the 2018 report, found “same perpetual problems” on textbooks, learning materials, classrooms, and school buildings.

“The DepEd reported an appallingly low accomplishment of a procurement of only 11, 792, 221 total textbooks and instructional or learning materials out of a target of 38, 593, 080 in 2018,” they said.

Citing the COA report, they said the DepEd had an alarming number of undistributed instructional materials amounting to P113.70 million that was procured as buffer stock from 2014 to 2017.

“The undistributed instructional materials, which remain unutilized and idle in five DepEd warehouses, represent 3,410, 137 copies intended for public schools nationwide,” they said.

Various errors were also noted in some of the learning materials intended for Grade 3 pupils, they added.

“The overwhelming number of undistributed textbooks is already becoming alarming considering that the shortages in books, even error-filled books are perpetual problems,” the Minority bloc said.

“These problems of low procurement, failure to swiftly distribute instructional materials, and errors in textbooks are piled on top of the annual budget cuts for Textbooks and Other Learning Materials,” it said, noting that the cuts amount to P3.04 billion in 2017, P2.99 billion budget for 2018, and P1.84 billion in 2019.

The opposition lawmakers also wanted the House panel to look into the lapses of the DepEd in the implementation of repair/rehabilitation of classrooms under the DepEd’s Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF) for 2018, 2017, and 2016 in 12 regional offices.

“The Department of Education also reported a terribly low accomplishment in classroom building, with just 11 new classrooms constructed out of their 47,000 target for 2018–or just a 2.34 percent accomplishment,” they said.

Joining Abante in filing the resolution are Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, Quezon Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr., A-Teacher Rep. Victoria Umali, Kalinga partylist Rep. Irene Gay Saulog, REKOBODA partylist Rep. Godofredo Guya, PROBINSYANO AKO partylist Rep. Bonito Singson, MAGSASAKA partylist Rep. Argel Cabatbat, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, ACT Teachers France Castro, Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite, and Gabriela partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas.