An official of the Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday said that “substandard” construction is one of the major reasons why schools continue to sustain significant damages especially in times of calamity.
DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua, during the virtual consultative meeting with school heads and division superintendents in the province of Sorsogon, noted the “substandard construction” of some buildings is among the causes why many schools sustain major and minor damages during typhoons and other disasters.
Pascua, along with Undersecretary for Field Operations Revsee Escobedo, is currently in Bicol to personally assess the damage caused by super typhoon “Rolly” in the facilities of DepEd – particularly in public schools.
“When we go to the schools for inspection, the first that we see is that the ceilings collapsed,” Pascua said in a mix of English and Filipino. “This is because even if there is a design to make it calamity-resilient, the design but it is not implemented and there’s a problem in workmanship,” he added.
Since the Bicol area is prone to calamities, Pascua said that the buildings in the region are already calamity-resilient or designed to withstand velocity of wind for 340 kph. “However, we see that winds and rain get stronger and there is also an issue with substandard constructions,” he explained.
Pascua also shared some of his observations during the inspections to calamity-damaged schools and cautioned that on the safety of school buildings – especially the ceilings – constructed in the last five years.
“For the last two years that we have inspected calamity damages brought by strong winds, typhoons, volcanic eruption, and earthquakes, I can tell you that the ceilings of buildings that were constructed from 2014 to 2019, there’s a possibility that these will collapse,” Pascua said.
As part of the efforts to ensure calamity-resilient schools, Pascua said that windows of classrooms should have storm protection or protector. “One of the reasons why roofs of classrooms get blown away is because we don’t have storm protector,” he explained.
To ensure that substandard construction will be avoided, Pascua said that DepEd engineers should inspect the sites regularly. “This is one of the reasons why DepEd provided vehicles for engineers, so they can go around and check the ongoing projects,” he explained. “If these projects are not checked by our engineers, there’s a bigger chance that it will be substandard,” he added.
In times of calamities, Pascua said that the local DepEd disaster risk reduction management coordinators will use the vehicle for emergency and rescue operations.
Aside from providing updates and explaining the importance of assessment reports, Pascua also announced the plan of DepEd to continue the implementation of its “DepEd TV” even when face-to-face classes will be allowed. “Through this, the learners and their families will have access to learning resources even if classes were suspended,” he added.
This school year, DepEd is implementing a distance learning set-up in lieu of in-person classes due to the continued threat of COVID-19. Lessons are delivered to the students in their homes through modular learning, online learning, and television or radio-based instructions.