Sara getting separate confidential funds as Vice President, DepEd chief

Sara getting separate confidential funds as Vice President, DepEd chief

Vice President Sara Duterte, whose Office of the Vice President will receive P500 million in confidential funds next year, would have access to P150 million more of such funding under the proposed Department of Education (DepEd) budget for 2022.

Duterte, the concurrent education secretary, defended the inclusion of confidential funds in the proposed budget of the two offices she heads during the budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

According to her, the proposed confidential funds for the OVP and DepEd will be used separately and independently of each other.

“The success of a project, activity or program really depends upon very good intelligence and surveillance because you want to target specific issues and challenges,” Duterte explained.

“As previously mentioned, sexual grooming of learners, recruitment in terrorism and violent extremism, drug use of DepEd personnel, these are not laid out for regular personnel to see that is why we need the help of the security cluster and the security sector to address these issues and challenges to basic education,” she added.

Budget documents from 2016 to 2022 showed that no funding for confidential expenses were allocated to both the OVP and the DepEd.

During a press briefing yesterday, DepEd spokesman Michael Poa said the programs to be funded by the proposed confidential funds are within the mandate of the agency.

“These confidential funds will be used for programs, projects and activities of DepEd in line with national security and, of course, public safety,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. “That is very much under the mandate of the DepEd. Aside from improving… quality basic education, we also have to be in the forefront of protecting our learners.”

Poa assured the public that the funds would be used in compliance with the existing policy issued by the Commission on Audit, Department of Budget and Management, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations and the Department of National Defense.

Duterte’s spokesman Reynold Munsayac earlier said that the P500-million proposed confidential fund of the OVP would be used for projects related to national security and peace and order.

“The position and mandate of the Vice President allows her to utilize those kinds of funds regarding peace and order and national security, especially since we have livelihood projects that will be implemented in conflict areas in our attempt to maintain peace and order and pursue national security projects,” Munsayac said in an earlier press briefing.

But the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) questioned yesterday the allocation, saying it would be better used to address shortages in the education sector.

ACT chairperson Vladimer Quetua said, “P150 million can already procure 150,000 armchairs, or about three million textbooks, or 4,286 laptops for teachers at P35,000 per unit. It can go a long way in providing for the lacking learning and teaching materials that hamper education recovery.

“At a time of a grave learning crisis, apportioning such amount for dubious activities purportedly to ward off the entry of supposed enemies of the state in the education sector is highly unjustified,” he added.

If DepEd is really concerned with the safety and security in schools, Quetua said it could have allocated the amount to hire security personnel.

“It could have allocated the amount to DepEd’s child protection program, which now has zero budget. It should have been earmarked for aboveboard items (where) benefits to education can be concretely seen,” he also said.


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