City gov’t spends P5.5M for teachers to watch ‘Bituing Walang Ningning’ – COA

Jun A. Malig
City gov’t spends P5.5M for teachers to watch ‘Bituing Walang Ningning’ – COA
The Commission on Audit finds out that San Fernando City in Pampanga spent money from the Special Education Fund (SEF) to let 2,479 public school teachers watch the theater adaptation of Bituing Walang Ningning

PAMPANGA, Philippines – The City of San Fernando spent P5,528,170 ($117,582) from its Special Education Fund (SEF) to let 2,479 public school teachers watch the musical “Bituing Walang Ningning” at Resorts World Manila in October 2015. 

As part of the 2015 Teachers’ Day celebration, the public school teachers were treated to the musical play last October 6, 2015, with a budget allotment of P2,230 ($47) per teacher.

It was officially tagged as an out-of-town “Professional Enhancement Training” activity.

The Commission on Audit (COA), which discovered the huge expenditure, said the P2,230 were inclusive of the transportation fare, musical play ticket, buffet lunch, afternoon snacks and honoraria of speakers “without indicating the details of the rate per person.”

“Inquiry with teachers who attended the play revealed that they expected a buffet lunch while the actual menu served for lunch described as ‘NYPD Style Braised Chicken in Soy Sauce and Vinegar’ was an ordinary chicken adobo dish and mixed vegetables, while hamburger sandwich was served as snack in the afternoon,” the COA report said.

In its defense, city officials told COA that the teachers were informed on the lunch and snacks to be served, as the budget could no longer afford the buffet lunch.

“The unnecessary spending using the Special Education Fund could have been appropriated for the construction of classroom, repair and maintenance of schools and equipment needed by the youth,” the COA stated in its annual audit report.

Citing Presidential Decree 1445, or the State Audit Code of the Philippines, COA defined unnecessary expenditures as those which could not pass the test of prudence, or those that do not support the implementation of the agency’s objectives and mission.

COA recommended that the Local School Board, co-chaired by the city mayor or his representative, and the city schools superintendent identify and implement projects and activities “that would be most beneficial to the school children and the teachers and refrain from planning unnecessary activities that do not add value to the participants.” It added that the board should consider holding activities within the city or province. 

President Rodrigo Duterte recently said that his administration will put a stop to out-of-town and out-of-the-country seminars and activities in local governmet units up to the barangay level. He said activities like “lakbay-aral” (educational trips) must no longer continue or must be held locally, adding that out-of-town activities are just a waste of public funds.

In the COA audit report on the City of San Fernando in 2014, it disclosed that some P5,876,000 from the SEF were used for cash incentives of outstanding teachers and retirees and payment of salaries, allowances and personnel benefits of Department of Education casual employees and another P2,936,458 to pay the wages of non-teaching personnel in violation of the objectives for the use of SEF under Republic Acts 5447 and 7160 and related regulations.

Under existing rules, SEF shall be used only for: 

  • Operation and maintenance of public schools, including organization of extension, non-formal, remedial and summer classes and payment of salaries and authorized allowances of public school teachers;
  • Construction, repair and maintenance of school buildings and facilities;
  • Purchase, titling and improvement of school sites;
  • Procurement of books, instruction materials and periodicals;
  • Acquisition of equipment, including computers and other information technology resources;
  • Expenses for school sports activities at the national, regional, division, district , municipal and barangay (village) levels, including DepEd –related and co-curricular activities; and
  • Salaries and authorized allowances of teachers hired to handle new extension classes of public elementary and secondary schools.

COA asked the city’s Local School Board to stop the practice of charging unauthorized and unrelated expenditures to SEF. – Rappler.com

*$1=P47

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