DepEd and DBM swap blame for SPED zero budget in NEP

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) considered the insufficient documentation and the low utilization of the 2022 budget for the Special Education (SPED) of Filipino children with special needs as reason enough not to grant a budget for the program for next year.

The DepEd issued a statement on Monday lamenting that there was zero budget for the SPED program for 2023. This, despite the department’s “earnest efforts” to advocate for learners with special needs.

The agency also said the DepEd, under its maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), had a P1.216 billion surplus for the PAP- Operations of Schools-Elementary and Junior High Schools (JHS). This can be used to finance the department’s needs for the SPED program.

“We give utmost importance in giving them access to quality education, so that their unique needs are adequately addressed. We believe that it is in supporting their needs that we are contributing to the holistic growth of our children,” DBM stressed.

In terms of documentation, DBM said DepEd did not provide sufficient documentation to support the SPED program. The documents required included that outlined the details of the proposed amount with specific purposes.

These documents, DBM said, should also provide a basis for the computations/parameters as well as the status of the ongoing conversion and establishment of Inclusive Learning Resource Centers (ILRCs) funded under fiscal year (FY) 2021 and FY 2022 General Appropriations Act.

Further, DBM noted that as of June 30, 2022, the SPED program under the FY 2022 GAA has an obligation rate of 1.13 percent, or only P6.35 million out of P560.202 million allocation.

“This funding provision will still be valid until December 31, 2023. Please note that during budget execution, items may be realigned and modified by the implementing agency to accommodate the requirements of any program that is in dire need of additional resources,” DBM explained.

“We deemed that the program support or additional allocation for the smooth implementation of the SPED may already be accommodated within the same program [DepEd MOOE], and that a separate budget for the purpose may no longer be necessary,” it added.

On Monday, DepEd said it was not remiss in its duties to exert effort to ensure that all its programs, including the SPED program, would be given financial support.

The DepEd also said that while the SPED Program did not receive any allocation under the National Expenditure Program (NEP), they were still “not at a loss” given that they have found other ways to engage with members of Congress to finance its programs.