Are the new DepEd measures really needed?
The Department of Education has taken certain initiatives that it wants us to believe are intended “to improve the delivery of department services.”
Last October, Education Secretary Leonor Briones decided to get the services of four academicians to conduct research on issues affecting the education sector. (“DepEd looks to research pros for help,” News, 10/3/16). Briones also recently announced the appointment of three fiscal managers—two undersecretaries for finance and an assistant secretary for procurement—to address the problem of “absorbing what is given to us,” which is to say “using up the entire P567 billion DepEd budget for 2017.” (“Briones: Big budget is not enough,” News, 11/4/16).
The word “absorb” carries with it many negative implications, and people are wondering why having the biggest budget has become a problem in itself. Shouldn’t the focus be on using its budget wisely and judiciously and not on spending it to the last cent just because it is there for the taking?
Are these measures really needed? Aren’t they unnecessary and unconscionable expenses? What are its army of highly-paid six undersecretaries, five assistant secretaries, five bureau and service directors, regional directors, schools division superintendents, division chiefs and unit heads doing? Does the DepEd not already have an internal audit service, a finance service consisting of an accounting division and a budget division, and a procurement service composed of a procurement planning and management division and a contract management division? Isn’t it part of the job of these officials to suggest, advise, support and help the secretary run the department efficiently so that it delivers what it is mandated by law to deliver? So that public funds are used with prudence and circumspection, going where they ought to go?
The problems plaguing our public educational system, being very massive and monumental, should be obvious to all but the intentionally blind. I have been giving advice to the DepEd in the form of committed and well-meaning criticism for almost 20 years now, entirely free of charge. Briones doesn’t have to go to Peru or hire pundits in order to know what ails the DepEd. All she needs to do is to listen.
DepEd Order No. 52 reorganized the entire department in October 2015. With its propensity to advertise its every project and program, however trivial it may be, I wonder why the DepEd never made public this top-to-bottom restructuring of the government’s biggest bureaucracy? Why is its organizational structure (directory) not posted in its official website? How will the public know who is doing what or who is not doing anything? Isn’t this basic and elementary? What are the new offices under the DepEd, who are the officers and what are their specific functions, duties and responsibilities? The public has the right to correct and accurate information.
ANTONIO CALIPJO GO, academic supervisor, Marian School of Quezon City
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