Press Release
September 24, 2022

Pimentel seeks clarification on DepEd's hefty budget for voucher program

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III sought clarification from the Department of Education (DepEd) on the massive increase in its budget for its voucher program as he asked for assurance that the cash grants will go to the intended beneficiaries of the program.

"This voucher program being administered by the Department of Education has ballooned exponentially to a tune of P39.326 billion under the 2023 National Expenditures Program from only P16.534 billion this year," Pimentel said in a statement on Saturday.

"Why did it increase more than double? What is the guarantee that the budget will go to its intended beneficiaries?" Pimentel asked.

Pimentel noted that the budget for the voucher program for private senior high school (SHS Voucher Program) was only P13.692 billion in 2021; P23.93 billion in 2020, and P18.756 billion in 2019.

Pimentel said that the DepEd's SHS Voucher Program is among the items in the budget that got the biggest increase.

"I am not saying that I am against it or it is anomalous. But I wanted to be clarified because this is such a huge increase that should not skip scrutiny. We are entrusted with the job of being the Senate's chief fiscalizer and it will be a huge disservice to the Filipino people if we do not bring this to the attention of the agency involved," the Senate's chief fiscalizer stressed.

In the 2021 Commission on Audit report, the SHS voucher program has benefited 1,107,083 students, below the DepEd's target of 1,417,613, Pimentel noted.

Despite the huge increase, Pimentel noticed that the target beneficiaries for 2023 will even decrease to 1.132 million from 1.383 million this year.

The DepEd is headed by Vice President Sara Duterte.

Pimentel also asked DepEd's explanation on a very expensive "subscription expense" in its budget amounting P2.563 billion in 2023 from only P24.68 million in 2022 and P26 million in 2021.

"This is yet another huge increase that should be explained by DepEd," Pimentel said.

Under the proposed P5.268 trillion spending outlay for 2023, DepEd is proposed to receive P709 billion, Pimentel noted.

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