Senator Win Gatchalian is asking the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to submit its proposal on how to speed up the construction of classrooms and school buildings nationwide.
During his interpellation on the proposed 2023 budget of the DPWH, Gatchalian pointed out that P3.1 billion was allocated for the School Building Program for 2022.
As of September 2022, however, only more than P30 million has been disbursed, less than one percent of the total allocated amount.
According to the DPWH, it received a total of P2.78 billion to date for the School Building Program. Last June, the Department received a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) of P409 million for the School Building Program.
The department also received in October a SARO of P2.64 billion. Bidding is ongoing for the construction of these classrooms.
“In the past, we have seen that a lot of the school building program has been delayed and it’s because of the transfer of funds from the Department of Education (DepEd) to DPWH, and then from DPWH, they will construct and normally it takes one year to construct a classroom or a school building,” Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, said
During the deliberations on the proposed budget of DepEd, it was revealed that there is a shortage of 167,901 classrooms nationwide based on the 2019 National School Building Inventory. More than P419 billion is needed to construct these classrooms.
To address the shortage of classrooms nationwide, Gatchalian has been proposing the implementation of a counterpart program, where DepEd gives 50% of the funds required for classrooms and school buildings, and the LGU comes up with the other 50%. LGUs, however, are given the task to construct classrooms and school buildings. Gatchalian recalled that a similar program was implemented during his term as Mayor of Valenzuela City.
“Aside from the General Appropriations Act, we can tap other sources of funds, and this calls for innovation in terms of financing and building classrooms,” Gatchalian said.