Press Release
November 22, 2021

Opening statement on the proposed 2022 budget of the Department of Education (DepEd)
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Vice Chairperson, Senate Finance Committee

Good afternoon, colleagues. It is an honor to sponsor the budget of the Department of Education, the Office of the Secretary, for the fiscal year 2022. As we all know, education has been one of the hardest hit sectors since the pandemic has started. It has been almost two years since we started distance learning, and I am very proud that we are now finally opening the doors of our schools and welcoming our students back to the classrooms.

I congratulate Secretary Briones and her team for relentlessly pushing hard for the President to acknowledge the importance of the resumption of classes for our young learners. And I wish the department success on the pilot implementation, which just started.

My fervent wish is that the pilot would be expanded. And I believe her honor, the Secretary, and I have the same wish. We cannot prolong this situation. Children need to be in school. Our job is to make it as safe as possible and to be ready to react to the different situations, just like when there are typhoons. Signal No. 1, signal No. 2, signal No. 3, depending on the signal, high school and grade school may not have classes, at some point, even colleges will not have classes. That is the kind of reaction we mean. And when it is safe, then everybody, of course, subject to the guidelines, whether it's rotational classes, morning and afternoon, should all have that opportunity to be back in school.

Obviously, we must ensure that minimal health standards are in place, practiced by students, faculty, staff, and the families to protect everyone. It is a balancing act that requires a whole of society approach.

Other countries have gone before us, so we also have best practices to look at, and I look forward to also being able to share our best practices when we attend our future international conferences, both online and internationally.

We need to be more strategic in our investments to ensure that our students will not only survive, but thrive. Our goal is to build back better, guided by the principles of sustainable development and futures thinking, which is reflected in the budget. And the Subcommittee proposed to the Finance Committee, and which the Chairman has graciously granted, many of our proposals. This brings us closer to the recommended spending for the education sector, which is 4% of the country's GDP. I must commend our Chairperson for carefully guiding the budget throughout the years for bringing us to this level. Of course, we would like to even spend more than 4% of GDP on education but we are quite close to closing that gap.

And we hope in this period of interpellation, our colleagues can also share with us their ideas, their suggestions, so that we can even come up with a stronger education budget.

So for the year 2022, the DepEd Office of the Secretary has total new appropriations of P591,971,922,000, with an increase of 2,767,783,000 from the GAB. So we hope to continue working with our colleagues so we can respond to COVID-19 and at the same time, invest in the future of our children. Thank you and we are ready for interpellation.

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