DepEd told to expedite the release of teachers’ internet allowance
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sonny Angara on Friday asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to speed up the procurement and release of connectivity load for public school teachers as he flagged the agency’s supposedly low disbursement rate of funds available for such purpose.
“We have heard that the DepEd will now be providing connectivity load to their teachers worth 30 to 35GB worth of data a month starting in June. This should be done with haste especially with the Bayanihan 2 extension expiring on June 30,” Angara, chairperson of the Senate finance committee, said in a statement.
“Ang dami na natin nabalitaan tungkol sa mga guro na nahihirapan na sa kanilang budget dahil sila pa ang gumagastos para sa kanilang mga load. Dapat na mabigay na agad sa kanila ang load para sa data lalo na’t matagal na naman nandiyan ang budget para dito,” he added.
(We have received numerous reports of teachers struggling financially because they have to shoulder the cost of connectivity load. The connectivity load to be given to them by DepEd should be immediately released, considering that funds for that purpose have long been available.)
Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2, a total of P4 billion was allocated to the DepEd for the “implementation of digital infrastructures and alternative learning modalities,” according to Angara.
While the law has been enacted in September last year, he pointed out that DepEd has “only recently obligated” P2.506 billion or 62.6 percent of the P4-billion allocation.
However, only P32 million has been disbursed as of May 7, 2021, a disbursement rate of 1.28 percent, he added.
Apart from the P4 billion, Angara said DepEd also has P300 million under the Bayanihan 2 for the provision of subsidies and allowances to qualified students that has yet to be obligated.
As of May 7, 2021, the DepEd “has recorded a zero percent obligation rate” for this particular item, according to the senator.
He said he has already asked the DepEd for a report on the utilization of the Bayanihan 2 budget, particularly on these two items, which he noted have very low obligation rates.
Bayanihan 2 was enacted in September 2020 and was supposed to expire on December 19 also last year.
Congress, however, passed a law to extend the availability of appropriations under Bayanihan 2 until June 30 this year to allow the implementing agencies to catch up with the utilization of funds allocated to them, the senator noted.
Angara said that the 2021 national budget also has available funds, particularly for the maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) and DepEd cash that could also be tapped to help the teachers with their connectivity requirements.
“Education under the COVID-19 pandemic has been very challenging to say the least. Both our teachers and students have encountered difficulties in alternative and distance learning,” Angara said.
“We should provide them with all possible assistance to cope with these challenges until face-to-face learning is once again allowed in the country,” he added.
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