Budget Watch

Security and surveillance? Duterte defends DepEd’s P150-million confidential funds

Bonz Magsambol
Security and surveillance? Duterte defends DepEd’s P150-million confidential funds

Education Secretary VP Sara Duterte-Carpio attends the 2023 budget briefing of the Department of Education and its attached agengies, at the House of Representatives on September 14, 2022. Angie de Silva/Rappler

'Kulang tayo sa classrooms, kulang tayo sa upuan, kulang tayo sa textbook learning, tapos maglalagay tayo ng confidential funds?' Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas asks

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Wednesday, September 14, defended the P150-million confidential funds included in the proposed budget of the Department of Education (DepEd).

During the budget deliberations at the House of Representative, Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas asked Duterte why there was such line item in the DepEd budget.

“Kailangan pong tugunan ng gobyerno yung kakulangan sa pasilidad, ‘yung classrooms, ‘yung mga kagamitan, ‘yung mga guro na lubos na naapektuhan dito sa kalidad ng edukasyon. My question is, mayroon po kayong 150 million confidential fund sa DepEd, para po saan ito?” Brosas asked.

(The government needs to address the lack of facilities, classrooms, equipment, and the teachers who were severely affected by the quality of education that we have. My question is you have P150 million confidential funds for DepEd, what is this for?)

Brosas said that Duterte already has P500-million worth of confidential funds in the Office of the Vice President (OVP) proposed budget, and yet the Vice President was still asking for P150 million more.

Duterte answered that OVP and the DepEd are two separate entities that have separate mandates.

“The success of a project, of activity or program really depends upon very good intelligence and surveillance because you want to target specific issues and challenges,” Duterte said. She added that the confidential funds would be used for security and surveillance.

“As previously mentioned, sexual grooming of learners, recruitment in terrorism and violent extremism, drug use of DepEd personnel, these are not laid out for regular personnel to see that is why we need the help of the security cluster and the security sector to address these issues and challenges to basic education,” Duterte said.

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Unsatisfied by Duterte’s answer, Brosas pushed back by saying, “Kulang tayo sa classrooms, kulang tayo sa upuan, kulang tayo sa textbook learning, tapos maglalagay tayo ng confidential funds na hindi naman natin maa-account.”

(We lack classrooms, chairs and textbooks, then you will put confidential funds that we won’t be able to account.)

Under the National Expenditure Program, the DepEd budget for 2023 is at P710.66 billion.

The House appropriations committee also swiftly terminated the deliberations on the OVP’s P2.92-billion budget for 2023, which is a three-fold increase from the office’s P702-million budget in 2022. (READ: No questions: House panel swiftly ends deliberations on 2023 OVP budget)

Due to the swift termination of the OVP budget deliberations, lawmakers were not able to ask the OVP about the P500-million confidential funds.

At a press briefing on September 1, OVP spokesman Reynold Munsayac said the confidential funds would be “utilized in compliance with the joint circular issued by the COA (Commission on Audit) and DBM.”

“The position and mandate of the Vice President allows her to utilize those kinds of funds regarding peace and order and national security, especially as we have livelihood projects that will be implemented in conflict areas in our attempt to maintain peace, order, and push for national security projects,” he added. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.