AT LEAST 454 out of 603 classrooms that were destroyed by typhoon Yolanda have been replaced as of this year, said officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) 7.
Since 2014, the agency has spent P510 million for the rebuilding and repair of classrooms in northern Cebu.
But even though a significant number of typhoon-damaged classrooms have been repaired or replaced with new ones, officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) 7 said their central office has transmitted more than P100 million for the continuous repair of classrooms in northern Cebu.
Engr. Noemi Guillen, DepEd 7 physical facilities coordinator, admitted that the same problems such as the long bidding process and the failure of contractors to speed up the construction process continue to hound them.
Non-government organizations also contributed a significant part of the resources for reconstruction and repair of damaged classrooms in northern Cebu.
After Yolanda, around 603 classrooms in northern Cebu needed replacement while 2,133 needed repairs.
As of yesterday, 454 classrooms have been replaced through the combined efforts of DepEd and NGOs.
April Custodio, division engineer of the Cebu Provincial Schools Division, told Sun.Star Cebu that for 2015, the National Government spent P127 million for the construction of new classrooms in schools that were affected by the typhoon.
The P127 million, which is the second batch of allocations for northern Cebu, was for the construction of 98 classrooms, Custodio said.
Custodio said that in the same year they also spent more than P100 million for the repair of 535 slightly damaged classrooms.
In 2014, the national government, through the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) released P183 million to facilitate the construction of the first batch of new classrooms in northern Cebu.
All construction and repairs appropriated from the first and second batch of funding from DepEd are completed, she added.
Northern towns under the Cebu Provincial Schools Division include Tuburan, Daanbantayan, Medellin, Bantayan, Madridejos, Santa Fe, Tabogon, San Remegio, Sogod, Tabuelan, Catmon and towns in the Camotes group of islands such as Tudela, San Francisco, Poro and Pilar.
In Bogo City, almost all of the 100 classrooms that were destroyed or damaged by the typhoon three years ago have been replaced and repaired.
Dr. Nimfa Bongo, Bogo City Schools Division superintendent, told Sun.Star Cebu that around 68 out of 100 classrooms were replaced through DepEd funding while the rest were replaced through the help of NGOs.
Around 110 of 160 classrooms that were slightly damaged by the typhoon have also been repaired, Bongo said.
As of now, the DepEd has given them P5 million for the repair of 23 classrooms in six schools, namely, Jovencio Masong Memorial National High School in Barangay Nailon, Libertad Elementary School in Barangay Libertad, La Paz National High School in Barangay La Paz, Siocon Elementary School in Barangay Siocon, Odlot Elementary School and Odlot National High School in Barangay Odlot.
Repairs on classrooms on the six schools are close to completion, she added.
But aside from DepEd, NGOs, both local and foreign, have helped in making sure that schools in northern Cebu recover.
Based on an online report, Caritas Switzerland has facilitated the rehabilitation of 80 classrooms in seven schools in Bantayan Island.
Based on a report by Mandy Zeckra, Caritas Swiss senior program manager in the Philippines, they were able to conclude rehabilitation of the 80 classrooms back in April.
The rehabilitation cost around 17,000 Swiss Francs or more than P800,000.
Three years since the typhoon hit northern Cebu, local NGOs, like the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), are also continuing their work to rehabilitate affected schools.
Anton Dignadice, RAFI Integrated Development Unit executive director, told Sun. Star Cebu that they facilitated the repairs and construction of 309 classrooms and 20 day care centers in the towns of Bantayan, Madridejos, Santa Fe and Daanbantayan.
The classrooms, which cost P250 million to build and repair, were turned over to their respective local government units in September 2014, Dignadice said.
But Dignadice said their work in northern Cebu has not ended as they are now building at least 60 classrooms in Bantayan Island and Daanbantayan this year.
Guillen told Sun.Star Cebu that after the release of the P100-million third batch allocation, they are currently conducting rectification works to see if the classrooms that were replaced and repaired are all in order.
She admitted that some contractors whom they hired to replace and repair classrooms had a hard time committing to their obligations due to various constraints such as that the school was located in an isolated area.
Due to these constraints, some contractors are asking DepEd 7 to extend their contract time.
Even though some were granted out of consideration, Guillen said that they are currently sending letters of ultimatum to these contractors to speed up their work.
Guillen warned contractors that they could face sanctions if they fail to repair and build on time.