DepEd-7 targets to address classroom backlogs this year

By Futch Anthony Inso |May 24,2019 - 09:27 AM

Parents, teachers and students clean, fix and paint the classrooms of the Zapatera Elementary School in Barangay Zapatera, Cebu City in this 2017 file photo. CDN Archives

CEBU CITY, Philippines —  Barely two weeks before the start of classes in public schools, the Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd-7) continues to conduct surveys to identify school buildings which need repairs and determine the number of additional classrooms needed to be built this year.

Juliet Jeruta, regional director of DepEd-7, said division engineers are now going around different sites in Central Visayas to conduct soil testing to ensure that school buildings are stable and resilient in times of earthquakes and typhoons.

A taskforce was also deployed to public schools to inspect electrical wirings in order to avoid untoward incidents such as fire.

Jeruta said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only approved around 1,000 classroom projects to be built in the entire region as the agency implements cash-based budgeting system.

“Here in Central Visayas, only one classroom project was allocated per congressional district,” she said.

Jeruta said that under the cash-based budgeting, contractors are asked to finish the construction of classrooms before the year ends.

“This year is a test period…to see if the minimum number (of approved classroom projects) will be finished within the 12-month period,” she said.

If a contractor fails to complete the project within the year, Jeruta said they can be sanctioned through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), who awarded to them the project.

“Sanctions shall be imposed on those who cannot really complete and will return the money unspent for that particular aspect,” she explained.

Irate or recidivist contractors can also be sanctioned by putting them in the blacklist in order to disqualify them in participating on biddings and accepting subsequent projects.

They will also face liquidation damages, where an amount is deducted to the cost of the project contracted by the contractors.

The penalty will depend on how many days that the project has lapse its deadline.

Backlog

Jeruta said they target to address the backlog of classroom projects in 2018 within this year, 2019.

There 9,796 classrooms in Central Visayas which are reported as “complete construction” from the 13,851 classroom projects that were lined up from 2014 to 2018.

These figures are based on the updated status report from the Engineering Division of DepEd-7 as of April 2019.

The same report notes that 782 classrooms have not yet started its construction while 2,632 classroom projects are still ongoing.

The report added that the funds of at least 472 classrooms were reverted, while four are still under procurement stage.

The classroom projects have amounted to P23,422,320,906.80.

Amaryllis Villarmia, information officer of DepEd-7, told CDN-Digital that most of the time, funds are reverted back to national treasury due to failure of bidding.

“Usually, it’s a problem on procurement. No one placed a bid so there is a failure of bidding, ” said Villarmia. / celr

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