(Eagle News)–Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday, Sept. 28, urged the Department of Education to prioritize its repair of over 7000 classrooms left damaged by Typhoon “Ompong.”
Gatchalian made the call after the DepEd revealed that 7,007 schools in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Zamboanga, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and Metro Manila, among others, had been damaged by the typhoon, which also claimed lives.
DepEd pegged the total damage at P2.65 billion.
“Hindi po biro ang pitong libong paaralan na nasira. Sana ay bigyang prayoridad ang pagkukumpuni ng mga ito dahil kawawa naman ang libo-libong mga estudyante na hindi makakapasok at makakapag-aral dahil wala silang mga silid-aralan,” Gatchalian, vice-chair of the Senate education committee, said.
According to Gatchalian, Education Secretary Leonor Briones should follow the recommendation of the Commission on Audit in last year’s audit report for maximized use of the Basic Education Facilities Fund for the repair.
The same 2017 annual audit report found that eight regions fell short of achieving the objective of improved physical facilities under DepEd’s BEFF for 2016 and 2017.
“I hope that DepEd will ensure that allotment orders are issued by the Central Office on time and that regional and division offices are notified early about the allocated funds so that repair works are not unnecessarily delayed and the budget will not be underutilized,” Gatchalian said.
As of September 20, data from DepEd showed 1,115 schools were totally damaged by Ompong, 1,804 schools suffered “major damage,” and another 4,088 sustained “minor” damage.