THE Department of Education (DepEd) is once again under fire for the purchase of 166 units of Mitsubishi Strada on top of 88 Toyota HiAce van amidst the budget crisis in the implementation of distance learning.
Critics questioned the motives behind the purchase of 254 vehicle units at the height of the lack of funding to sustain the production of learning materials.
According to Deped Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, the purchase of brand-new pickup trucks had been made prior to the pandemic. When the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed nationwide, the distribution was delayed.
Deped officials clarified that these vehicles were meant to be used by their field engineers who would check structures like buildings in far-flung towns and mountains with difficult terrains. The Toyota HiAce van will be used by Deped officials to monitor schools across the countryside.
The current price for Mitsubishi Strada vehicle is around P1.4 million, while the Toyota HiAce van is at P1.4 million to P2.3 million. The total is P372 million for the 254 purchased vehicles.
Are these vehicles the primordial needs of the people inside the agency? The huge amount could have been used if realigned to purchase and equip the schools with logistics, among others.
So while a number of Deped engineers and officials enjoy the comfort and luxury of using the brand new cars in their fieldworks, what about our frontline teachers who are using personal laptops, printers, inks and bond papers in module production? Should this not be the top priority right now?
At present, many Division offices seek assistance from LGUs to sustain the reproduction due to insufficient funds downloaded from Central Office. Many school heads at the same time, with their own initiative, knock the hearts of generous stakeholders for the same thing.
Maybe it is about time for Deped Central Office to check the reality and listen to the real sentiments of the people who implement its program on the ground.