BACOLOD City Mayor Evelio Leonardia fully supports the liberalization of the Special Education Fund (SEF) guidelines to implement the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are in full support of the approval of the proposed joint circular series of 2020 before the August 24 opening of classes,” said Leonardia in an online meeting Tuesday, August 11.
Leonardia, who is the national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), led the online policy dialogue to secure insights from officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Education (DepEd).
The top-level meeting was keynoted by DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado, who set the tone of discussion saying, “SEF is a local fund, it should, therefore, be the local officials who will decide on how to use it and the national government should only give policy directions.”
“The SEF is not meant to be used to implement programs of the national government because it should be able to fund its own programs,” according to Avisado, who used to be the city administrator of Davao City when President Rodrigo Duterte was mayor.
The dialogue aims to build a consensus on the further relaxation of the SEF utilization policies.
“Liberalizing the [SEF] guidelines can further assist the cities in financing the expenses that can help implement the Basic Education - Learning Continuity Plan,” Leonardia stressed.
DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the proposed SEF guidelines could cover many items that can support the new learning methodology.
Meanwhile, Councilor Renecito Novero, who chairs the SP Committee on Education, emphasized that part of the Learning Continuity Plan proposed by DepEd Bacolod - OIC School Division Superintendent Gladys Amylaine Sales is the utilization of radio networks for remote learning.
“If we have radio or remote learning, we can allocate regular time slots for all class levels,” Novero added.
DepEd Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo told Novero that they are currently negotiating with different radio stations with the help of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
Escobedo also said they have recently secured approval from the National Telecommunications Commission to mandate cable television companies to provide digital channels to be used by DepEd.
“I know that the hearts of public officials in Bacolod are for the teachers,” Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said when the teachers’ Ecola issue was taken up.
Avisado also confirmed the virtual signing of the joint circular fully supporting the implementation of the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan.
Among the other participants in the dialogue were DBM Undersecretary Herman Jumilla, DBM Director John Aries Macaspac, DBM Assistant Secretary Kim Robert de Leon, DILG Undersecretary Marivel Sacendoncillo, DILG Director Anna Liza Bonagua, lawyer Caesar Aquino, DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito M.C. Umali, Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, and representatives from the cities of Roxas, Escalante and Legaspi. (PR)