While the Department of Education (DepEd) under Vice President Sara Duterte gets an allocation of P150 million for confidential funds, their Special Education (SPED) gets nothing, according to the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
In a statement on Monday (September 19), the education agency mentioned that they proposed P532 million for SPED in the upcoming fiscal year.
“Unfortunately, despite our earnest efforts to advocate for our learners with special needs, it was not considered in the National Expenditure Program (NEP). This is true for two other programs that were excluded from the NEP,” they said.
SPED is part of the agency’s inclusive education program. Also excluded from the NEP is the Arabic Language Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) meant for developing the potential of Muslim children.
DepEd pointed out that the problem was an annual “recurring circumstance”, but they are able to finance the programs anyway, working with Congress.
“In the past years, DepEd has likewise made efforts within the organization to ensure that programs are supported,” they said.
In a separate statement, the Department mentioned that confidential expenses were allowed, as per the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) Joint Circular 2015-01.
The Circular reads that confidential activities to be conducted by the agency should be properly collaborated with law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
But in 2019, DepEd released Order No. 032 s. 2019, or the National Policy Framework on Learners and Schools as Zones of Peace, which says that schools in general should be “free from the presence of armed combatants, whether they be from government forces or armed groups.”
“The threats to the learning environment, safety, and security of DepEd personnel are interlocking with the mandate of support to the national security of civilian offices,” they said. The agency went on to list issues confronted by the agency that are unlawful in nature, which they say “need the support of surveillance and intelligence gathering”, supposedly to protect personnel and students.
Even under the previous administration of Rodrigo Duterte, no allotment was ever made for confidential funds in DepEd.
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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