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There might not be enough funds to hire new teachers for next schoolyear - DepEd.

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Pending the approval of the 2019 budget, the Department of Education (DepEd) expressed concern that there will be no funds for newly-hired teachers - particularly for the 80,000 teaching positions to be filled in this coming school year.

DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla, in an interview, explained that DepEd was currently operating under a reenacted budget. If the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) remains unapproved, she noted that there will be no source of funding for the teachers who will be newly-hired or will be hired this coming school year since the 2018 budget does not include funds for this.

Sevilla, however, clarified that filling up the 80,000 teacher-positions will still push through even if 2019 budget was not approved, noting that there is a "special purpose fund" managed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) called the "Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF). "We can get that [funds] on that level," she said.

If there will be a decision to have a reenacted budget, Sevilla said that the DBM "has to lead all other government agencies when it comes to the level of MPBF." The 80,000 teaching positions will remain open but the number of personnel to be hired "will depend on the funding availability" after the adjustment made by the DBM.

Currently, DepEd said that "some of the portions of the agency's budget" were being used to cover the payment of newly-hired teachers lodged under the 2019 budget. If the 2019 GAA is not yet passed come April, she confirmed that it will be more challenging for DepEd.

"It will be a problem since they will not give us the funding cover for the newly-created positions because we haven't requested yet," Sevilla said. "We're thinking, if we will request out of the reenacted budget and the GAA will be approved, we will have a correcting entry," she added.

DepEd, Sevilla said, is waiting for the 2019 GAA budget to be approved "before we request but if they say that it will take longer time for the reenacted budget, then, we will have to find a way to process that request."

To be able to pay newly-hired teachers, Sevilla said that DepEd has been making "internal arrangements" with its regional offices to cover the funds lodged in the 2019 budget. "Right now, it's allowed to pay [newly-created position] but using your own level of 2018 but if we force the 2018 level, then there will be a difference in salary," she added.

Sevilla explained that DBM issued the implementing guidelines of the reenacted budget effective January to March only. "If only the guidelines noted that it is effective until the 2019 budget is approved then there should be lesser problem," she said.

Despite the budget deadlock, Sevila expressed confidence that the 80,000 positions will remain open since the DBM "has already assured us that we can continue the hiring." However, she noted that it will be a matter of where they will charge the payment. "If it's under the GAA 2019, then it stays with us but if it's the reenacted budget, then they will have to find a source where to find it," she explained.

Unlike in other departments where there is a lesser number of positions to be filled in, Sevilla said that hiring process was unique to DepEd since it involves a large number of people compared to other agencies. "For us, it's already a 100,000 [newly-hired for 2018] plus 80,000 more [in 2019], so we really need to have a funding cover," she ended.

CAPTION(S):

Kinder teachers welcome their students during their first day of class in President Corazon C. Aquino Elementary School, June 4, 2018, in Batasan, Quezon City. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Mar 20, 2019
Words:630
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