Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez attended the Department of Education (DepEd) budget hearing on September 14 at the Nograles Hall, Batasan, Quezon City.
The hearing was attended by DepEd Secretary and Vice President Inday Sara Duterte.
During his interpellation, Rep. Rodriguez earnestly fought for the restoration of the P80.5 billion budget for classroom construction slashed from the proposed P86.4 billion budget of DepEd for next year. The 2023 budget provided only P5.9 billion for new school buildings.
Rodriguez lamented this decision by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), as well as the fact that Cagayan de Oro was not given any allocation in the funds for construction and repair of classrooms.
He further called for the restoration of the P6.1 billion for repairs of classrooms, especially in areas badly hit by past typhoons and earthquakes. The DepEd proposed for P6.7 billion but the DBM only gave P1.5 billion for classroom repairs for 2023.
“Let me remind everyone in this room that there is a mandate from the Constitution. Article 2 of the Constitution provides for the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, Section 17, the state shall give priority to education. Under Article 14, the state shall promote quality education at all levels, especially basic education,” the former law dean emphasized.
“Our learners cannot be under the mango trees! We need to have classrooms; that is the first requirement to having quality education in all levels,” he stated.
Rodriguez also raised the concern about the shortage of teachers in all districts. He moves for the restoration of the budget to hire more teachers as needed to ensure that all districts and schools will have an adequate number of teachers.
“Cagayan de Oro City badly needs 169 new classrooms and 297 additional teachers for 2023. These are the figures given by DepEd-10 Regional Director Art Bayocot and CdeO Supt. Cherry Mae Limbaco,” he noted.
Finally, the Mindanao lawmaker strongly called on the Committee and his colleagues to “unite and use the power of the purse to move for the additional budget of the Department of Education.”
Rodriguez received strong applauses from the members present in the hearing after his interpellation, as VP Duterte expressed her gratitude to Cong. Rufus for “passionately expressing the sentiments of the Department of Education.”
“Mahal ka po sir ng Department of Education,” the vice president added.