Press Release
October 11, 2006

Transcript of Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's press conference

Q: On the DepEd budget

SFMD: The Committee will recommend the approval of the budget of the Department of Education for P134.7 billion. This is P12 billion over the 2006 budget of P121.6 billion, representing a 12% increase. We are asking the President and the DBM to increase the DepEd budget by P2.5 billion and increase the deficit from P63 to P65.5 billion.

Hinihingi po namin sa Pangulo na dagdagan ang budget ng Department of Education. Dagdagan ng P2.5 bilyon. At itaas and deficit mula sa P63 bilyon and allow the deficit for 2007 to reach P65.5 billion. This will not have any adverse effect on our fiscal position. Because we have to address decisively the deficiencies in our education sector. We note that prior to 2006, the increases in the budget of the DepEd was only on the average, P3 billion a year. In 2006, the increase was P9 billion. Next year, the increase will be P12 billion. However, under a ten-year budget study by the World Bank and the DepEd, for 2006 and 2007, the proposed increase according to the World Bank should be at least P26 billion. For 2006 and 2007, the budget submitted by Malacañang would increase the budget of the Department of Education by only P21 billion. Therefore, there is still a deficiency of about P5 billion.

We are urging Malacañang to increase the budget of the DepEd by at least P2.5 billion to partially address many of the concerns that the DepEd has. For example, we need to hire 16,390 teachers more in 2007. The budget is only for 10,000 teachers. We need 16,390. This will cost P720 million more. Let us be decisive and fund the need for additional teachers.

Rather than an allocation of P650 million for intelligence funds of the President, I would rather put, and I am examining closely, realigning P650 million in intelligence funds of the President to fund the funding needs of new teachers of 16,390 that we need rather than non-productive intelligence budget of P650 million, which is accounted for through a closed envelope system. I would rather that we hire 16,390 teachers more. We need more classrooms. The gap is about 6,000 classrooms for 2007. Only about P2.7 billion is allocated for classrooms. We should put in more money for the classroom. But at the same time, we should economize and look at the costing of the DepEd. The DepEd has allocate P450,000 per classroom. This is exactly double the amount that we have indicated in the supplemental budget for similar school rooms being done by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. which is committed to build classrooms at P225,000 under the supplemental budget. Therefore if we follow this costing, wherein the ratio is one classroom for every 45 pupils, which is the ratio for DepEd and the same ratio for the FFCCCII, we would be able to double the number of classrooms that we can build. Incidentally, if only President Arroyo will release P100 million for the 2005 pork barrel of Senator Drilon, we can build 140 more classrooms. But that's another matter.

The budget also indicates that we are education poor. Why are we education poor? Because for every 100 pupils who entered Grade 1, there are 34 dropouts. For every 100 who entered Grade 1, only 66 would graduate Grade 6. That means about one million of our kids, either do not enter at all our school system or do not finish Grade 6. This is an alarming deficiency.

About one million of our children would not be able to finish elementary grades. And out of that same 100, only 43 would graduate from high school. In other words, out of 100, 66 would graduate from elementary. Out of 100, only 43 would graduate from high school and only 14 would finish college. Nakikita natin na talagang malaki ang ating kakulangan sa edukasyon. Hindi lang po iyon. Those who graduate Grade 6 would have the competency of a Grade 4. It is not only the quantity but also the quality of our graduates. They have only two out of every 10 Grade 6 students who have the competence of a Grade 6. The other 8 would have the competence of a Grade 4. Ibig sabihin, hindi sapat ang karunungan para maka-graduate ng Grade 6.

Q: Kasama po sa figures ninyo ang nag-aaral sa private school?

SFMD: Public schools lang ito. Those who graduate from our elementary, 80% of them would have the competence of a Grade 4. Worst, those who would graduate from Grade 6 would have the competence of Grade 4.

In any case, the other area that we would be looking at is to improve this competence. English should be adopted as a mode of instruction because those who are more proficient in English are more proficient in Science and Math. Gumagaling ang mga bata sa Science at Math kapag magaling sa English.

Finally, we will be making sure that the School Feeding Program will consist of milk, noodles, rather than rice. Because we discovered that out of the P4 billion for school feeding, P3.9 billion would be for rice. This is not addressing the malnutrition of our children. The problem is malnutrition. The DepEd should address the malnutrition and leave the poverty alleviation to the other sectors of our bureaucracy.

Ang binibigay nila ay bigas kaya hindi po nakakain ng mga bata. Inuuwi. Ang sabi nila, ito ay poverty alleviation. We do not debate on that, this is poverty alleviation but the concept is to address the malnutrition problem. Therefore, what we should not have is rice but noodles, milk and other nutritious food. But not rice because that will not address the malnutrition.

Ang kumikita dito sa rice ay ang mga farmers sa Thailand and Vietnam because NFA would import this rice. Apart from the farmers of Thailand and Vietnam, where the rice would be imported, iyong mga komisyon sa NFA, diyan din kumikita ang mga negosyante. All of this would indicate that we should have a nutrition program properly implemented by prohibiting rice as the preferred mode of executing the School Feeding Program because that is not malnutrition alleviation.

Q: Do you still intend to use the P3.9 billion for milk?

SFMD: We will retain the P4 billion. But just like the supplemental budget, we will specify that it is for meal, milk, noodles and similar nutrients rather than rice. We already specified that in the P2.5 billion School Feeding Program in 2006. And we will continue to specify that in 2007.

Q: Kailan ba nag-umpisa ang nutrition program?

SFMD: Itong taong ito. They had only P60 million in 2005. In 2006, we place P2.5 billion. But we discovered that they are buying rice instead of addressing the malnutrition problem. It will become P4 billion in 2007.

Q: Cheaper daw kasi ang imported rice

SFMD: If it's cheaper, fine. Then buy that for the other agencies for poverty alleviation. If you are talking about the problem of malnutrition among our children, we should not give them rice. Because that doesn't address the malnutrition program. Hindi lang iyon. Hindi naman kumakain ang mga bata. I am sure that if we devote P4 billion to a School Feeding Program, the malnutrition this year will be the same malnutrition at the end of the year. Why? Because they feed them with rice, which is not to address the malnutrition.

Q: The P2.5 billion increase, where will it go?

SFMD: It will go to classrooms, teachers, training of the teachers because the additional 16,390 teachers would require an additional P720 million. So that once and for all, you'll have enough teachers. You are not even addressing yet the quality of these teachers, just the quantity. Because you need more funds for the training of the teachers. (end)

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