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MANILA, Philippines – Senator Raffy Tulfo on Thursday, November 9, criticized the Department of Education (DepEd) for soliciting funds from students to buy school supplies and appliances, such as electric fans for classroom use, through the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA), as these should be provided by the agency.
Tulfo cited Republic Act 5546 or An Act Prohibiting the Collection of Contributions from School Children of Public Primary, Intermediate and High Schools. The senator held a long list of complaints his office got from parents. (READ: Gov’t releases guidelines on fee collection, class suspension)
Senator Pia Cayetano, who sponsored the DepEd budget, said that the agency was not collecting contributions from students, but collections were done through the PTA.
“It prohibits collection from students so the policy of DepEd is to allow the PTAs to follow their guidelines to seek contributions from parents,” she said.
Unconvinced, Tulfo said, while unrolling the paper he was holding,”I beg to disagree. Ito po lahat ng nagsumbong sa akin. This is the list of parents na nagsumbong sa akin. Iba’t ibang eskuwelahan sa buong Pilipinas na kung saan sila po ay sapilitan na kinokolektahan ng mga electric fan at kung anu-ano pang mga gamit sa eskuwelahan na mayroon naman pong budget sa MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses) ang DepEd for those things.”
(These are those who complained. This is the list of parents who complained about it. This is a list of schools coming from the whole Philippines, where they said that they were forced to contribute money for electric fans and other school supplies, even though there is a budget allocation for these things under DepEd’s MOOE.)
Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel interjected to explain that, in principle, it was the schools that were collecting from students through their parents.
“We have to harmonize. I’m thankful for the discussion because we brought up RA 5546… Sino kinu-kolektahan mo kung nangongolekta ka sa bata of elementary school age? Hindi ba magulang rin? If you look at the spirit of the law, bawal mangolekta sa bata at sa kanyang magulang,” Pimentel said.
(Who are you collecting from elementary-age students? Their parents, right? If you look at the spirit of the law, collections from students and their parents are not allowed.)
Tulfo said that he brought up the issue because he wanted to put a stop to the practice. In response, Cayetano said that the DepEd will issue a department order that will strengthen the implementation of the law.
During the 2024 budget discussion of the DepEd, Vice President Sara Duterte also gave up her request of P150 million in confidential funds for the DepEd following a public backlash. Duterte said that she hopes that the Congress will realign the funds for learning programs of the agency.