Press Release
September 27, 2007

"Money could've gone to education."

Senate Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinan today condemned government's apparent propensity to engage in dubious communications projects, saying these deals rob the nation millions of pesos that could be allocated to education.

"The administration seems to have its priorities all muddled up. The controversial Cyber Education Project (CEP) and the NBN deals are just the tip of an iceberg of priority mismatches and dubious dealings in government."

According to a study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics in 2003, the Philippines' public elementary school average class size was 43.9 students per classroom. In comparison, Malaysia's average class size was 31.7, Thailand - 22.9, Japan - 28.6 , and India - 40.

Unfortunately, only P2 billion a year is allocated by the Department of Education for its school building program.

Due to the lack of classrooms, the country's public school system is, therefore, forced to operate on a double or even triple shift everyday. At least P25 billion pesos is needed to address the current shortage of more or less 7,000 classrooms.

"The government chooses to engage in more unsustainable communications projects that are now causing the loss of millions of pesos in public funds. Think of how many classrooms, books, school chairs and teachers these ill-advised projects could've financed," Kiko lamented.

The DILG, for instance, spent P1.37 billion in a project called Emergency Network Philippines (ENP) which is now non-operational due to incomplete components and lack of operating funds.

The National Computer Center's National Computer Information System (NCIS) project, on the other hand, amounts to P378 million but is also currently suspended due to non-payment. The computer units of this project remain unused.

"Why are we carrying out these deals when they cost us so much more than their projected gains?"

The Department of Agriculture also entered into the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) which sets the government back by more or less P80million. This project is presently underutilized due to lack of funds.

Then there's also the P298 million election computerization of COMELEC that was never put to use, and the P1.35 billion SSS ID Card System project which, to this day, only a few members are able to avail because of the failed linkages with other offices.

"Has anyone ever been held accountable for these mistakes? These said projects alone total to almost P3.5 billion, all of them either underutilized or non-operational. Then we listen to the Senate hearings on education and we hear of classroom shortages and inadequate teacher training because there is not enough money channeled to education. Instead of leaving a legacy of learning to our children, we are leaving them more debt that they will have to shoulder because of the incompetence of government officials who enter these implausible deals."

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