Ethics Demands Not Only Where DAP Funds Went But, As Important, Where Did These Come From?
It is difficult to decipher who is telling the truth when a member of the Senate, presumably that branch of the government that votes and approves the General Appropriations Act (GAA), said not long ago:
More than a year ago, a member of the Philippines Senate, Francis Escudero, described how various government agencies were able to produce "savings":
"He cited as example the budget that Congress had approved in the past for 15,000 new teachers every year but the Department of Education would only hire about 7,000 new teachers.
The budget for the remaining 8,000 positions, he said, was then considered savings and re-aligned for bonuses of the department’s employees. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 January 2013)In addition, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) maintains its version of how DepEd has realigned its budget. In the Manila Standard Today, ACT National Chairman says:
Valbuena said the 528,000 teachers and 72,000 non-teaching personnel from 42,000 elementary and high schools used to get P10,000 each annually in Performance Enhancement Incentive.
However, the amount was cut in half because the Palace impounded P3 billion from the Department of Education’s allocation in 2012 and another P3 billion in 2013, he said.
“For two years now under the Aquino administration, we have been deprived of our rightful P10,000 performance bonus,” he said.
The Palace, he said, justified the realignment for DAP and replaced the PEI with Productivity Incentive Bonus or merit system where the teachers had to earn two “outstanding” evaluations to obtain a “two-step increment.”
“Every outstanding performance, which is very difficult to achieve under horrible teaching conditions such as depressed salaries, lack of classrooms and school supplies, overloading of work, will merit a step-increment equivalent to only P200,” Valbuena said.
“So our P10,000 benefit was replaced with P200. Does the President believe this is fair and just?” Valbuena said.Valbuena's arithmetic is correct. Denying about 600,000 personnel of 5000 pesos each amounts to 3 billion pesos. Replacing 10,000 pesos with 200 pesos is, however, incorrect. An across the board incentive of 5000 pesos has remained.
The lack of transparency contributes significantly to the confusion. However, there are truths that do not require a close examination of numbers. Shortages in resources (classrooms and learning materials) are widely known for so many years now. The fact that teachers' salaries have been stagnant for years is also undeniable. The Philippine Congress has the responsibility to approve the budget of the government. The Executive has the responsibility of submitting to Congress what it needs. The needs are obvious yet the budget seems to be wrong every year that it provides so much savings that the Executive can freely transfer and spend these funds for something else. If the public schools in the Philippines are so transparently in need of aid, it is amazing that both branches of the government seem incapable of drawing the budget basic education needs. Unfortunately, this does not apply only to education. Health care and infrastructure are likewise severely neglected. Yet, there are savings that allow the Executive to hand pick projects that it deems necessary to stimulate the economy, the justification for DAP. There are no savings when there are clearly unmet needs, only irresponsible budgeting.
|France Castro, Secretary General of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers|