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‘Increased’ costs constrain DepEd to revise classroom completion targets

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By Merlina Hernando-Malipot 

Due to the “increased” costing of the modified calamity-resilient school building designs, the Department of Education (DepEd) said that it has revised its original target for classroom construction for last year.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones (DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN)

Education Secretary Leonor Briones
(DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN)

In an effort to “set the record straight” on the alleged deficiencies in the DepEd’s physical accomplishments vis-à-vis targets, Education Secretary Leonor Briones explained that the original target of 47,000 classrooms for 2018 was “revised” to 28,170 due to the increased costing of the modified calamity-resilient school building designs.

“While only 11 classrooms were fully completed as of December 31, 2018, 27,469 are ongoing constructions, 16,936 are for mobilization, and 8,749 are under procurement,” DepEd said. “Following the Department’s timelines, around 11,826 are expected to be completed by the end of 2019,” it added.

The Commission on Audit (CoA), in its 2018 report, flagged DepEd for managing to complete only 11 out of the supposed 47,000 new classrooms to be constructed for the said year.

DepEd noted that while project completion “has not been reached within the year in certain major items,” these are mostly already obligated but completion spills over to the succeeding fiscal year. “Nonetheless, if we show related information such as ongoing implementation, we may have a fairer picture,” Briones said.

Meanwhile, DepEd noted that there were “some … issues encountered in the timely implementation of projects … attributed to procurement delays and contract implementation lags, as well as securing building and occupancy permits which [were] initially not part of the budget.”

In an effort to address this, DepEd and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)—the engineering arm of the government and the implementing agency of the School Building Program—“conducted inter-agency convergence meetings to resolve the issue.”

“The Senate is fully aware that the Department does not build the buildings and that the money does not go to us,” Briones emphasized – pointing out that the DPWH is in charge of the construction and completion of school buildings. These, she added, are the “subject of continuing operational reforms.”

Briones also noted that during the harmonization meeting in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the DPWH agreed to timely submit financial and physical accomplishment reports to DepEd.

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