DepEd budget gets Senate OK

MANILA, Philippines—The Senate committee on finance on Wednesday gave its conditional nod to the P336.9-billion budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) for 2014.

The committee asked the DepEd to itemize the P37.7-billion lump sum appropriation for the construction of 43,183 classrooms and the hiring of teachers by Oct. 15.

Sen. Francis Escudero, chair of the Senate finance panel, said committee approval of the DepEd budget was conditional on their submission of the itemized list of the classrooms that they will construct, the teachers they will hire, the classrooms they will repair, the computers they will buy, and the science and mathematics labs that they will construct.”

During the budget hearing, Sen. Ralph Recto called for itemized accounts of up to P94-billion lump sum appropriations.

“As we all know, lump sum appropriations are prone to abuses similar to what you have today and that’s why you had the Million [People] March,” said Recto, referring to the protest action on Monday to protest corruption in the use of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel.

“We understand the anger of the people here… Now there are many items in the budget that are lump sum appropriations. If you itemize the lump sum, in truth, there might be no more need for the pork barrel,” Recto added.