Briones calls for greater vigilance towards protection of children

DUMAGUETE CITY, March 3, 2019 – Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones called on civil society organizations, local government units, national government institutions, and the rest of the community to be more vigilant in protecting children because they are the first victims of accidents and abuse.

She made the appeal after visiting the wake of five students (one Grade 7 and four Grade 11) of Basay National High School who died in a vehicular accident morning of March 1 in Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental. The Education chief personally paid her respects and expressed her condolences to the bereaved families the following day.

“It’s really such a great loss. We did not lose only the lives of children; we lost so much promise, so much ambition, and so much hope,” Briones stated during a press conference held at the DepEd Regional Sub-Office in Dumaguete City. “And this is a result, perhaps, of lack of vigilance on the part of us—us who are grown-ups, us who are responsible for these children’s safety,” she added.

Moving forward
Briones, together with Undersecretary for Finance Service and Education Programs Delivery Unit Annalyn Sevilla and Undersecretary for Field Operations and the Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development Revsee Escobedo, shared the Department’s plans in the aftermath of the terrible accident.

First is the provision of insurance for all schoolchildren—all 27 million of them—year round. “Each time groups of children go out of the periphery of our campus, participate in competitions, and travel to other places, they have to be covered by insurance so that if there is a need for benefits and for assistance, these can be available,” Briones mentioned.

She also made a call to regulatory agencies to “keep a sharper eye” and to conduct more robust assessment and monitoring of vehicles, especially the public utility vehicles like the one carrying the victims of the March 1 accident. She further cited how they have to look into the state of mind of the drivers and the vehicles, as well as the legality of the franchises.

Further, Briones and Sevilla mentioned the need for a quick response fund, especially because the provision of financial assistance for these types of incidents is not included in the DepEd budget. This shall be brought up, they said, in the next budget proposal.

Pride of Bayawan
The group of students from Basay National High School were on their way home to Bayawan following a Mathematics competition in Cebu where they won in the elimination round. Dubbed as “Math Sayaw,” the contest is both academic and co-curricular, as the participants use music and arts to make the subject more interesting.

“They have been a source of pride among the locals of Bayawan,” DepEd Region VII Assistant Director Salustiano Jimenez also shared during the press conference.
“This incident is so much more intense because it involves children, innocent children. And these children were special and different in many ways. One, they come from one of the poorest municipalities in this province,” Briones relayed.

She also shared that they have chosen technical-vocational courses which means that they plan to work immediately after graduation. Finally, she opined that these are not ordinary children because they won in competitions.

Call for donations
The Education chief likewise thanked those who immediately responded to the Department’s call for assistance through voluntary contributions including the members of the existing organizations and cooperatives in DepEd.

Finally, she called for donations to help address the needs not only of the families of those who have passed on, but also the families of the six other patients (five Grade 11 learners and their coach), three of whom are in the intensive care unit. Briones also visited them personally at the Silliman University Medical Center and Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital.

The victims shall need continued medication, physical rehabilitation, surgery or replacement of body parts, and psycho-social intervention, among many others, which all entail exorbitant amount.

Donations may be coursed through the Office of the Secretary, and may be coordinated with Bayawan City Assistant Schools Division Superintendent Adolf Aguilar.



DepEd Synchronized Instructions, Procedures and Guidelines (SIPAG) for 2019 Regional Clustered Conference on Administration, Procurement, Finance and Operations launches in Subic

The Office of the Undersecretary for Finance - Budget and Performance Monitoring conducted the first Regional Clustered Conference

on Finance as part of the DepEd Synchronized Instructions, Procedures and Guidelines (SIPAG) for 2019 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center from February 6 to 8, 2019. The conference, which focused on the finance strand of the Department, was attended by regional Chief Administrative Officers, regional and division Budget Officers, regional and division Accountants, and selected Finance Officers from Implementing Units (IUs), representing Regions IV-A, IV-B, XI and the National Capital Region (NCR).

On the first day, Undersecretary for Finance - Budget and Performance Monitoring Annalyn M. Sevilla welcomed the participants and provided an overview of budget and finance matters for Fiscal Year 2019. She provided detailed presentations on the policies on reenacted budget for the first quarter of FY 2019, the continuing appropriations for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and Capital Outlay (CO), and the latest overall budget utilization report for FY 2019.

Presenting the latest data obtained from flash reports as of December 31, 2018, Usec. Sevilla reported that out of Php 494.49B total adjusted allotment, the tentative total obligation rate of the whole Department for FY 2018 was 93.37%, while the total disbursement rate was 93.13%. Although the tentative data shows that the obligation rate decreased by 3.78% from the 97.15% obligation rate in FY 2017, she said, "In DepEd, even though cash-based has not yet been effected, most obligations were disbursed/paid."

Usec. Sevilla concluded, "We have to arm ourselves by knowing the rules and guidelines, otherwise our efforts will go in different directions. In 2019, let us aim for 97% utilization even though our budget is increasing ¬– not because we want to impress Congress, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) or the Commission on Audit (COA), but because we want to serve our learners and schools."

Assistant Secretary for Finance - Budget and Performance Monitoring Ramon Fiel G. Abcede presented the overall budget utilization status of the regions and corresponding division offices of their respective budget utilization reports. He introduced as well two (2) proposed and newly issued policies and guidelines. Joint Circular No. 2019-1, entitled "Management of Cash Advances to DepEd Non-Implementing Units for School Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses and Program Funds", directs school heads of non-IUs to open and maintain bank accounts under the name of the school for depositing cash advances for the School's MOOE. He also presented the proposed Revised Guidelines on School Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses, which aims to strengthen reporting, monitoring, and evaluation mechanisms for school MOOE, ease the process of downloading of funds to non-IUs, and include additional provisions on the use of school MOOE.

The second day was dedicated to the workshop proper, the presentation of workshop outputs, and relevant updates from the Executive Committee (ExeCom) Members.

To commence the workshop activities, the participants were divided into four (4) groups to discuss Bottlenecks, Challenges and Constraints (BCCs) of assigned major Programs, Activities and Projects (PAPs) and recommend corresponding solutions to the program teams and the ExeCom. Group 1 addressed BCCs and recommendations on the Creation of New Positions and Human Resource Development. Group 2 presented on Textbooks & Instructional Materials, School-Based Feeding Program, and School MOOE. Group 3 focused on the Basic Education Facilities Fund and DepEd Computerization Program. Lastly, Group 4 highlighted issues related to Learning Tools & Equipment, Government Assistance and Subsidies, and the Alternative Learning System.