Press Release
March 26, 2016

Exempt classroom construction from election ban - Recto

Government should take advantage of the "good summer weather window" in building classrooms to erase the backlog in this critical education resource, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said.

With classes in public schools now ended, education officials should also use the summer break to hire teachers and buy equipment so all of these will be ready when 21 million students return to schools in June, Recto said.

"Students out, workers in. This should be in the mantra in campuses today. From beehive of learning to beehive of construction," Recto said.

"There is no excuse not to ramp up construction," Recto said, because "critical education projects" are exempt from the public works ban imposed during elections, "more so if they have been okayed before the start of the campaign season."

"This is a good policy because school preparation should not go on a holiday because of the elections," Recto said.

This year, 43,000 classrooms will be built at a cost of P61.8 billion while P18.8 billion will be spent on the initial year's salaries of 62,320 newly-hired or newly-promoted teachers.

Their building or hiring should have begun back in January when the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2016, which authorized the funding, took effect, Recto said.

Of the 43,000 new classrooms, 23,000 classrooms are for the Grades 11 and 12, or what constitute senior high, Recto explained.

Of the 62,320 new teaching posts, 40,000 slots are reserved for senior high. In addition, 17,371 non-teaching personnel will also be hired.

Recto also urged the Department of Education (DepEd) "to fast-track the procurement" of 103.2 million textbooks and 4.33 million chairs, items likewise budgeted in this year's GAA.

"Putting these resources in place should be the Aquino administration's education legacy. When the President bows out of office in June, teachers should have been hired and classrooms inaugurated," he said.

Recto said there should be no repeat of the "horrible delays" which plagued classroom-construction and teacher-hiring in the past.

"There's no excuse that it is delayed again because this is something which has been planned in advance. Hindi ito bagyo na bigla na lang pumasok sa Philippine area of responsibility," he said.

Adding to the urgency of making these needed acquisitions "is the enrolment of the first batch of Grade 11 student this June," Recto said.

Judicial challenge to the K-12 program was lifted two weeks ago when the Supreme Court rejected several pleas seeking to stop the implementation of the program adding three years to the basic education curriculum.

In issuing the call for a faster roll out of education resources, Recto recalled procurement bottlenecks which delayed deliveries.

In 2014, DepEd was given P2.56 billion to purchase Grades 1 to 3 science and math kits "but not a single one was bought that year," Recto said, "In fact, by mid-2015 wala pa ring nabibili."

The following year, P4 billion was appropriated for kits for Grades 4 to 6 math and science classes "but July came and not one had been purchased."

The same problem hounded teacher recruitment, Recto said. The DepEd was given P9.35 billion in the 2015 national budget to fund 39,066 teacher positions "but not one was recruited in time for the June opening."

"The same was true for classrooms. Of the 41,728 new classrooms programmed for 2015, not one was ready for occupancy by July 1, 2015," he lamented.

But Recto believes "delays and other problems have been solved by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson."

"I am confident that DPWH will turn in an excellent final report card in classroom construction. Wala naman kasi sa DPWH ang problema," he said.

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