The Department of Education (DepEd) is set to issue a new set of guidelines that will help address the concerns of its employees when it comes to reimbursing the P300 per month communication expense incurred while they are working at home during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla confirmed on Friday, Feb. 26, that the agency sought the assistance of the Commission on Audit (COA) on how to address certain issues raised by its personnel – particularly on the submission of needed documents and other requirements.
“We consulted COA about the difficulty in submission of liquidation reports for the P300 per month actual communications expense individually,” Sevilla said.
DepEd, Sevilla said, was advised by the commission to use other COA circulars to cover accountability mechanisms and reporting. “We are working on this and will issue new guidelines on liquidation once we get COA concurrence,” she added.
Meanwhile, Sevilla said that the reimbursement of the communications expense is still ongoing. Asked on the status of those who have already received the reimbursement, she said that such data is currently not available.
“We don’t require DepEd accounting units nationwide to submit reports to CO [Central Office] anymore on actual disbursement or payment because DepEd units use its own funds and report respectively to its corresponding DBM [Department of Budget and Management] and COA units,” Sevilla explained.
Sevilla said that such a directive was given because “this will require additional manual work for all accounting units and we have to prioritize our tasks considering the skeletal workforce that we have during quarantine.”
In December 2020, DepEd issued guidelines authorizing payment of communication expenses of its personnel relative to the implementation of the alternative work arrangements for the year 2020. The said guidelines for reimbursing communication expenses will retroactively take effect and cover the period of nine months from March 16, 2020 until Dec. 16, 2020.
The payment of communication expenses – for mobile and internet – of DepEd personnel under a work-from-home (WFH) arrangement will be reimbursed in the said period “subject to submission of pertinent documents for reimbursement.”
“The amount which may be reimbursed shall not exceed P300 per month, to be certified by the authorized claimant as actual expenses incurred in connection with the discharge of their official functions and are necessary to support the operations of the agency amidst the pandemic,” the guidelines read.
However, teachers groups such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) alleged that many teachers have yet to reimburse their communications expenses due to difficulties in submitting the documentary requirements asked by DepEd.