MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) is calling for the revival of its Quick Response Fund (QRF) to repair schools damaged by typhoons and earthquakes in the past months.
DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua said P2.023 billion worth of damage to school buildings were caused by Typhoons Karen and Lawin in October 2016, Typhoon Nina in December 2016, and the earthquakes which struck Surigao and Leyte this year.
DepEd, however, did not release the total number of damaged schools.
“What is worrisome for us are the calamity-related repairs. You know, we have requested already since last year a budget for calamity repairs, and this already ballooned to something like P2 billion. We have no allocation for calamity-related repairs,” said Pascua in a press conference on Tuesday, August 15.
The QRF was used during the administration of President Noynoy Aquino for pre-disaster and post-disaster agency needs, such as prepositioned supplies and construction materials to build classrooms.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration removed the fund from the 2017 DepEd budget.
According to Pascua, the QRF was reallocated to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
“That’s why we have appealed this to Congress and the DBM that we be given a separate QRF. And P2 billion is enough every year to respond to disasters created by calamities,” said the undersecretary.
He said DepEd planned to speak to lawmakers and DBM officials within the week.
Pascua said they also asked for an additional P1.236 billion to finish building school projects that remain pending from 2015 to 2016. (READ: P95B still unused in classroom construction fund for 2017)
DepEd will receive the lion’s share of the proposed budget for 2018, with a requested allocation of P612.117 billion. The department will be defending its proposed budget before lawmakers on Tuesday, August 22. – Rappler.com