Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio



Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has assured immediate action on the alleged discrepancies in the voucher program under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE).

Duterte made the response in an ambush interview on the sidelines of her engagements in Cambodia as the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) President on Thursday.

Duterte mentioned establishing the Government Assistance and Subsidies Office (GASO) to look into the reported discrepancies in the billing issued by the private schools.

“First of all, we are not issuing payments, we’re holding the payments,” she said. “Second, if it’s already paid and we see that it’s ineligible, either there’s a mistake or problem in the billing, we are asking for a refund to be brought back to the Department of Education.

She also mentioned coordination with the Private Education Assistance Committee (PEAC) in terms of securing the voucher program billings from private schools.

On Wednesday, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian flagged the alleged bulk of undocumented beneficiaries of the E-GASTPE, during the Senate Committee on Basic Education’s hearing.

Gatchalian said the DepEd expected refunds to reach as high as P239 million, with some schools having P80 million and P68 million refunds, separately among others, based on the PEAC report.

In sum, the said amount would account for almost 19,000 undocumented voucher program beneficiaries.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier released P1.295 billion to the DepEd to improve access to electricity and electrical systems in public schools across the Philippines.

According to DBM Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman, this initiative is aligned with the Bagong Pilipinas vision of President Marcos.

The Special Provision of the FY 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA) states that a total of P1.295 billion is allocated under the Program/Activity/Project (PAP) – Basic Education Facilities (BEF), which shall be used for the electrification of un-energized schools and the modernization of electrical systems in on-grid schools.

This shall include the upgrading of existing electrical power systems of existing buildings, purchasing and installing appropriate transformers, and/or purchasing and installing solar power systems if needed and suitable for renewable energy use.

The Special Provision also prescribes that DepEd shall prioritize the use of solar energy sources for providing electricity to both off-grid and on-grid public schools.

The released fund is chargeable against  DepEd’s built-in appropriations under the  FY 2024 GAA. Darwin G. Amojelar