Mayor Evelio Leonardia expressed full support in giving local government units (LGUs) the discretion in the use of the Special Education Fund (SEF) to implement the Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) during the health crisis.
“Liberalizing the (SEF) guidelines can further assist the cities in financing the expenses that can help implement the (plan),” Leonardia, national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), said in a statement on Wednesday night.
The SEF comes from the additional 1 percent tax on real property and is allotted to the local school boards (LSBs).
Section 272 of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code provides that LSBs may only use the SEF for “operation and maintenance of public schools, construction, and repair of school buildings, facilities and equipment, educational research, purchase of books and periodicals, and sports development.”
On Tuesday, Leonardia spearheaded an online policy dialogue with officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Education (DepEd) to gather insights on the further relaxation of the policies on the use of the SEF.
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, who keynoted the meeting, said, “(The) SEF is a local fund. It should, therefore, be the local officials who will decide on how to use it and the national government should only give policy directions.”
“The SEF is not meant to be used to implement programs of the national government because it should be able to fund its own programs,” Avisado added.
Speaking for the DepEd, Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the proposed SEF guidelines could cover many items that could support the new learning methodology.
The signing of the joint circular fully supporting the implementation of the BE-LCP will soon be held virtually.
“We are in full support of the approval of the proposed joint circular series of 2020 before the August 24 opening of classes,” Leonardia said.
In Bacolod, part of the BE-LCP proposed by the City Schools Division headed by Gladys Amylaine Sales is the use of radio networks for remote learning.
This was presented by Councilor Renecito Novero, who chairs the City Council committee on education, during the meeting, saying that if the city could have a radio or remote learning, it could allocate regular time slots for all class levels.
In response, Education Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo said the DepEd is negotiating with different radio stations with the help of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
The agency has recently secured approval from the National Telecommunications Commission to mandate cable television service providers to allow DepEd to use digital channels. (PNA)