House wants DepEd, COA to explain conflicting reports




By Rose de la Cruz


House Deputy Majority Leader, Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Bagong Henerasyon partylist, wants the Commission on Audit and the Department of Education to explain their respective reports on schoolbuildings in 2018, which she said, sounds unbelievable.


At the same time, she urged the DepEd to radically improve its efficiency in producing new classrooms and school buildings, and financial management with real-time online reporting.


"When I first read that part of the 2018 audit report on the DepEd about 11 classrooms, I was shocked. Only 11, almost zero percent? Shocking because I recall that there were inaugurations of classrooms last year and some were in Quezon City where I reside," the congresswoman said.


"I also recall that in the budget hearing on August 28 last year, DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua reported and I quote, "60,149 classrooms are ongoing construction; 12,059 are under procurement; 7,052 are for procurement; and 2,369 have been constructed from July to August 2018. On top of these, 22,133 classrooms were constructed from July 2016 to June 2018."


Herrera said, "because of the conflicting information, I now ask both the DepEd and COA, did the consolidated reports of school principals about new classrooms and buildings completed in 2018 reach the COA?"


The congresswoman noted that DepEd is the largest department in government with nearly 889,000 personnel, almost 38,000 public schools and about 27 million students.


"We want to know from DepEd if its financial management and internal audit systems are able to work well and on time. Are the principals, superintendents, and regional directors doing their jobs well or do they sign documents and let their subordinates attend to and get buried in an avalanche of details?" Herrera said.


"DepEd seems to be totally dependent on the Department of Public Works and Highways on the construction of classrooms and school buildings. Perhaps it is now time for DepEd to have a small special unit that will be solely responsible for construction of classrooms and school buildings," the congresswoman said.


"At the school level, there may well be principals who pass on their administrative duties and construction supervision tasks to teachers because they do not have non-teaching personnel who oversee the classrooms and school buildings," she added.


"DepEd finance and audit systems should be able to let principals do reports online," she said.


COA noted many delays in the completion of classrooms and school buildings, with some projects taking two or more years to finish.


"In preparation for the budget hearings, I have tasked some of my staff to do a quick physical survey of public schools in Quezon City and Manila to see firsthand how many new classrooms there are, when they were built, and when the schools started to use them," Herrera said.


"Aalamin din ng opisina namin kung sino ang mga nakatutok sa construction projects sa campus. Baka mamaya niyan, wala palang responsableng tao o 'di kaya'y teachers ang napag-utusan gayong hindi naman sila civil engineers," the congresswoman said.