DepEd asks help in demolition of old buildings

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/24 March) – The Department of Education in Northern Mindanao has about P500 million for new school buildings but does not have any funds to demolish aging school buildings that endanger the lives of school children.

According to the inventory made by DepEd-10, 103 school buildings pose danger to school children. These buildings are now either used as shades, garage and a place where vendors sell their wares.

Noe D. Simene, the DepEd-10 regional physical facilities coordinator, has asked the local government units through the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to finance the demolition of these dangerous structures.

He said demolition can cost anywhere from P20,000 to P100,000.

Simene said that DepEd-10’s budget for new school buildings, P495 million for this year and an additional P42 million from the Department of Public Works and Highways, cannot be used to demolish the buildings.

He added that school buildings more than 50 years old cannot also be demolished without a permit from the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCAA) for its heritage value.

In the aftermath of the accident at the Sapad Central School in Lanao del Norte July last year that claimed the lives of two pupils and injuring 11 others, the approval for the demolition of dilapidated school buildings has been delegated to schools division superintendents.

Simene said that schools divisions in the region do not have enough funds. Parent Teachers Associations (PTA), too, do not have enough funds, he noted, especially that collection of PTA fees has become voluntary.

Under the Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) Law of 2010, the Local DRRM Fund (LDRRMF), formerly named Calamity Fund, can be used for projects that effect risk reduction or prevention.

The law mandates all LGUs to appropriate at least five percent from its regular revenues to the LDRRMF. Thirty percent of which can only be spent to respond to disasters and 70 percent as development fund that can be used to fund projects and activities that reduce or prevent disaster risks and those that increase community resiliency to disasters.

Northern Mindanao has 2,604 public schools and in school year 2010-11, 872,064 elementary and high schools students are enrolled in these public schools. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin / MindaNews)