The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Monday admitted that no budget was allocated for special education (SPED) in 2023 due to the Department of Education’s (DepEd) failure to provide the correct documentation for its request.
The supporting documentation requires the details of the proposed amount with specific purposes, the basis of computations, and the status of the ongoing conversion and establishment of Inclusive Learning Resource Centers (ILRCs), said the DBM.
“While the Department of Education proposed the retention of the line item for the purpose under the FY 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), no sufficient documentation was provided to support the same,” the DBM said in an emailed statement.
The DBM noted that the obligation rate of the SPED program was only P6.35 million out of P560.202 million.
“[W]e deemed that the program support or additional allocation for the smooth implementation of the SPED may already be accommodated within the same program, and that a separate budget for the purpose may no longer be necessary,” the DBM said.
“Further, 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,” it added.
The DepEd responded, saying that the proposed P532-million budget for SPED for 2023 was not considered in the NEP. DepEd spokesperson Atty. Michael Poa said the department will engage in “internal adjustments” internally to allocate funding for SPED.
“This means that in order to support the program, internal adjustments are made — be it in the available MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) of schools or other programs, in order to fund SPED,” Poa said when asked if special needs students will be affected by the lack of budget.
Based on DepEd’s finance strand for 2021, SPED will receive no budget under NEP but was funded under the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), amounting to P329 million, said Poa.
He added that the SPED budget was funded under NEP at P297 million and was later on increased to P560 million under this year’s GAA.
Netizens were surprised to see the major lapse from the DepEd.
They were able to get confidential funds but not for SPED?! Was this also the case in previous years? https://t.co/hvuZkwSzYG
— Jason (@callmeattyjason) September 18, 2022
Most saw the infraction as a form of discrimination against special needs students.
We appeal to our officials:
Having no budget/funds for Special Education is exclusion and discrimination of Students with Special Needs/Disabilities. Dapat kasama sila dahil hindi sila iba! 💖🇵🇭#MakePHSchoolsInclusive pic.twitter.com/2Mj1e1o7yB
— Miss Mela Habijan (@missmelahabijan) September 19, 2022
It appears the disadvantaged are experiencing more handicaps.
San nga ba patungo ang “Bagong Pilipinas”? 🤔
So far, we have PUV fare hike, all-time low peso value, high inflation rate, no DOH secretary, no budget for SPED, etc. But we would have a new catering area in Malacanang and huge “confidential” funds for politicians.
— Sam Madriaga (@sc_madriaga) September 18, 2022
Sen. Sonny Angara also responded to a call by a netizen to do something about the issue.
We will remedy po together w deped/HoR https://t.co/9RPt7UyDGb
— Sonny Angara (@sonnyangara) September 19, 2022
In another statement, the DepEd said that it would seek the help of Congress to find a funding solution for SPED.
“This is a recurring circumstance every year, and DepEd is not at a loss because we always work with members of Congress to find other ways to fund DepEd programs,” the agency said.
“In the past years, DepEd has likewise made efforts within the organization to ensure that programs are supported,” it added.