Wednesday, September 21, 2011

COA urged to audit gov’t school buildings

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 21, 2011) - Senator Franklin Drilon called on the Commission on Audit (COA) to look into what appears to be a huge disparity between the cost-effective school building program initiated he initiated in partnership with the private sector and the Department of Education (DepEd).

“The COA should look into it. That’s a proper area for a COA inquiry,” Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said.

He said there is basis for the state audit agency to scrutinize the costing of the DepEd’s school building program, adding that the construction of each classroom through the Drilon-Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) program is cheaper by half compared to the cost of classrooms built by the government.

Drilon said through his partnership with the private sector, cost effective school buildings would only cost P650,000 per building with two classrooms, while that amount would only build one classroom under the DepEd.

As such, Drilon asked the DepEd to study how to lower the outlay for the government’s school building program, using the Drilon-FFCCCII program as a blueprint.

DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said the government’s cost of building classrooms is relatively high, citing contractor’s tax and contractor’s profit, among others.

“This may be correct but this does not account for the double the amount,” Drilon said. “I’m not saying that they reduce their cost by half but make it a reasonable item.”

To date, the program has built about 1,400 classrooms all over the country since the Drilon-FFCCCII school-building program started in 2002. The fund comes from Drilon’s Priority Development Assistance Fund.

A total of P18.2 billion is allocated for the DepEd under next year's P1.816 trillion National Budget for the construction and refurbishment of 15,000 classrooms, provision of 2.5 million seats and 25,000 sanitation facilities.

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