MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 02 September) – It’s only during this administration that an agency like the Department of Education (DepEd) has been given by Congress an allocation for intelligence and/or confidential funds.
Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte could only offer one line to justify it: education is intertwined with national security, a justification she did not expound on. Maybe she knew that giving a lengthy explanation would only prove the critics right.
Nonetheless, Congress accommodated her budgetary whim, which is understandable from a political viewpoint. [Most] lawmakers would not dare cross Duterte, arguably the strongest contender in the next presidential elections, granting that her alliance with the Marcos camp remains solid until that period.
To prove their fealty, no questions were allowed during the abbreviated committee hearing on the proposed DepEd budget. This explains the vice president’s nonchalant response to criticisms – “Let’s leave it to Congress.” She knows she holds the aces.
And, that precisely is the problem, Congress is one of the last institutions expected to safeguard taxpayer’s money. You know what I mean. If not, then you must be living in another universe.
Another nagging problem is that the majority of Filipinos are letting the whole thing pass without a whimper. Critics of the confidential funds are even heavily bashed online. How have things come to this? I mean, when has the act of showing concern on how public funds are being used – or misused and abused – become a crime?
Does it really not matter anymore that we might fall victim to yet another possible instance of what we call in Bisaya “tulis sa atubangan”?
Meanwhile, nobody is paying attention to the severe shortage of classrooms, the need to hire additional teachers, the dismal academic performance of students, and other woes facing the country’s educational system.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at email@example.com.)