DepEd proposes review of laws blocking efficient spending

September 25, 2017

PASIG CITY, September 25, 2017 –In her continuous bid to prevent bureaucratic procedures from hampering the utilization of funds and delivery of services to learners and personnel alike, Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones conveyed the Department of Education’s (DepEd) readiness to work with the Legislative branch in identifying and reviewing laws and policies that have now become ineffective to the agency’s mandate.
“The problem of underutilization has been going on for how many administrations. It’s also a question of laws which were passed to make things efficient at the time they were passed but at this time now make things inefficient. Laws, procedures, regulations, which paralyze our people, which prevent them from acting because they are afraid [of incurring complaints before the Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman],” the Secretary stressed.
Aside from implementing financial reforms within the Department, Secretary Briones instructed the identification of laws that impede effective budget spending on planned programs and projects, which will be furnished to Congress.
Foremost, Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, wherein a review of the alternative modes of procurement in view of the one-year validity of appropriations, may help in addressing bottlenecks in fund obligation. Considering the short validity of appropriations for one year, one of DepEd’s proposals is that negotiated procurement be allowed after only one failed bidding instead of the current admissible two failed biddings.
Also primary consideration for review is Republic Act 8047, or the Book Publishing Development Act, that prohibits the Department from developing manuscripts for textbooks and printing or procuring the printing of such when private publishers are unable to meet the demand.
Another legislation deemed worth revisiting is Republic Act 9258, or the Guidance and Counselling Act of 2004, which limits the pool of qualified applicants (who by law are required to be licensed and to possess a Master’s degree), rendering it difficult for DepEd to fill the items for Guidance Counsellors.
To further promote inclusive education by allowing greater access of marginalized sectors to more learning resources, DepEd proposes more limitations on and exceptions to copyrights by amending Republic Act 8293, also known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. Revisiting the law may expand the reproduction and distribution of intellectual property in formats other than print, specifically audio-visual materials to Braille. The limitation to copyright may as well be extended to translations and adaptations of educational materials to the mother tongue of indigenous peoples (IPs).
Other laws that impact on DepEd’s capacity to utilize its funds include: Fair and Equitable Access to Education Act; Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001; Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act; Magna Carta for Public School Teachers; GAA Special Provision on Allocation to PWD Cooperatives of 10% of School Furniture Procurement; Executive Order Directing the Use of Bamboo for at Least Twenty Five Percent of the Desk and Other Furniture Requirements of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools; Tax Reform Act of 1997; Adopt-a-School Act of 1998; An Act Authorizing Financing, Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects by the Private Sector, and for Other Purposes as Amended by R.A. 7718; Granting Priority to Residents of the Barangay, Municipality or City Where the School is Located in the Appointment of Classroom Public School Teachers; GAA Special Provision on ARMM; and Palarong Pambansa Act of 2013.
Secretary Briones thus reminded, “Bureaucracies resist change, that’s what makes them bureaucracies. Mabagal sila gumalaw, they resist change. . . How do you inspire a sense of courage, a sense of daring? If we want to teach our children to think creative, out-of-the-box solutions, we have to set the standards.”