Press Release
September 14, 2006

Education biggest winner in 2006 supplemental
budget, says Finance Committee chief

The education sector will be biggest winner under the P46.9 billion supplemental budget for 2006 which was approved by the Senate on third and final reading Wednesday night, former Senate President now Finance Committee chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon said.

Drilon said the Department of Education will get the second biggest appropriation in the budget in the amount of P9.581 billion which will cover provisions for the hiring of 10,000 new teachers, the cost-effective building of more public school buildings and the payment of long-overdue benefits of thousands of public school teachers and non-teaching staffers.

The biggest appropriation in the proposed supplemental budget is P14.8 billion which will cover the increase of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of local officials this year.

Drilon noted that under the proposed measure, an amount of P1 billion was earmarked for the construction of school buildings that will be directly released to, and administered by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

To ensure the judicious use of funds and to encourage the participation of non-government organizations in the construction of classrooms, Drilon said the finance committee proposed that P250 million of the P1 billion proposed allocation for the School Building Program be made available to the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) "with proven capability and track record in the construction of the public school buildings."

"We have provided restrictions that the cost of classrooms to be constructed by NGOs shall not exceed P225,000; this is at half the cost of a classroom constructed by the DPWH," Drilon said.

The building of public classrooms has been Drilon's pet project utilizing over P255 million of his Countryside Development Fund to construct over 1,400 classrooms throughout the country in a joint campaign with the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.

Under the Drilon-FFCCCII graft-free and cost-effective program, each classroom costs only about P200,000, about half the cost of school classrooms built by DPWH.

Aside from providing funds to build more classrooms, Drilon said the supplemental budget also sets aside P400 million for the payment of salary adjustments and other benefits of DepEd's teaching and non-teaching personnel.

"A number of mandated benefits are authorized to be granted to government employees out of savings. But most of DepEd fields units don't have the necessary savings to pay off the said benefits such as, but not limited to, step increments and loyalty pay," Drilon said. "To date, more than P1 billion is accumulated as unpaid benefits to our teachers and other non-teaching personnel at the education department."

Meanwhile, Drilon also noted that DepEd teaching and non-teaching personnel will soon heave a sigh of relief from deficiencies in their premiums with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

He said the finance committee has appropriated P3.3 billion to cover the deficiency of the national government in unpaid premium payments to the GSIS. The amount will cover for the deficiency of the national government's share in the GSIS premium contribution from July 1997 to December 1998.

Drilon explained that under GSIS Act of 1997 (Republic Act 8291), the national government's contribution to GSIS was increased to 12 percent from the previous 9.5 percent. However, for the period July 1997 to December 1998, the different agencies of the national government did not have sufficient budget to cover the increase to 12 percent as mandated by law, resulting in premium arrearages amounting to P3.29 billion.

As a result, teachers had complained that their premium payments do not match their actual years in service. This meant less GSIS benefits than what they are entitled to receive because of the deficiency in premiums.

Drilon said once the proposed budget allocation is approved, government employees, most of whom are the 545,000 DepEd personnel, should find adjustments in their creditable years of service with the GSIS. "We must emphasize the deficiencies in premium contributions is the major source of continuing frustration and disappointment among our thousands of teachers," said Drilon.

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