Politics

SPED funding without papers rejected 

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PHILIPPINE budget planners on Monday said it rejected funding for a learning program for persons with special needs because the Education department failed to document it. 

While DepEd had proposed to retain the P523-million funding for the special education program (SPED), it did not provide sufficient documents to support it, the Budget department said in a statement. 

Education officials earlier denied claims that it had deliberately excluded funding for SPED. 

The Budget department said that as of Jun. 30, the SPED program under the 2022 budget had an obligation rate of 1.13%, or only P6.35 million out of a P560.2-million allocation. 

“This funding provision will still be valid until December 31, 2023.” 

The agency noted that during the budget season, items may be realigned and modified by an agency to fund a program in dire need of resources. 

It also cited a P1.216-billion surplus for the Programs, Activities, Projects for elementary and junior high schools under DepEd’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses. 

“We deemed that the program support or additional allocation for the smooth implementation of the SPED may already be accommodated within the same program, and that a separate budget for the purpose may no longer be necessary.” 

Earlier in the day, DepEd said its proposed P523-million fund for SPED was not considered in the spending plan for 2023.  

DepEd, which is headed by Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio, has been under fire after it requested a P150-million confidential fund that was not scrutinized at a recent House of Representatives hearing. 

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers has been urging DepEd to realign the confidential fund and use it to improve education quality.  

Budget and policy analysts have said the multimillion confidential fund goes against the austerity theme of the Marcos administration. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza