The Department of Education has asked lawmakers for a law that would authorize the grant of internet allowance for teachers amid the continuing implementation of distance learning modes due to the pandemic.
At the House of Representatives’ deliberation of the DepEd’s proposed P630.8-billion-proposed budget for 2022, Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said there has yet to be a law that would explicitly permit the executive department to distribute internet allowances.
“There is no authority for DepEd to give an allowance, and we have been raising this to Congress and the Senate, because the DBM (Department of Budge and Management), the Commission on Audit (COA), will not allow payment of an allowance if there is no legal basis,” Sevilla said when asked by Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo about the benefit on Tuesday, September 14.
“And we do not have a legal basis to give internet allowance,” she added.
Sevilla noted that under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2, P1.2 billion was allocated for the provision of internet connectivity load, which they distributed to teachers thru SIM cards with data load.
“Because we consulted DBM, we consulted COA, [and they said] we cannot give an outright allowance to the teachers in the form of cash,” the DepEd official said.
“Therefore we purchased the P1.2 billion [thru] sim cards,” she explained.
While the DepEd has already obligated and disbursed Congress-appropriated funds for the benefits, including using its savings, Sevilla recognized that many more teachers were still not able to receive their benefit due to lack of budget.
According to Undersecretary Alain Pascua, the DepEd would need an additional P4 billion to fund the connectivity load of teachers for next year.
This amount is on top of funding requirement for the provision of laptops, which would amount to P33 billion, to accommodate all beneficiaries, he said.
“We have made several programs, but always at the end of the day, it’s always the amount of funds needed for these programs are obviously lacking at this time,” Pascua told the House panel.