DepEd Catanduanes comes under the SP spotlight

As if the controversies over the supposed relief of Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Danilo Despi and the alleged robbery-mauling of a school principal and his wife are not enough, comes now the honorable Provincial Board Member Edwin Tanael to throw more hot coals on the Department of Education’s path.
In the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s regular session last Feb. 1, 2021, the veteran legislator and educator unleashed three arrows at the education department.
He wondered why not even a whimper of a complaint came from the division office when the concrete slab and steel roofing frame of Grandstand B was torn off its moorings by the winds of super typhoon Rolly last Nov. 1, 2020.
He asked if the division office took steps to investigate what happened and to check what really caused the heavy roof to literally fly in the air and land a hundred meters away.
Secondly, PBM Tanael sought clear and detailed documents on the provincial government’s payment of P1.7 million for a piece of land, something that was not adequately explained by DepEd officials during a meeting of the SP Committee on Education last Jan. 27.
With PBM Alan del Valle’s manifestation that the province earlier paid another million for a piece of land in favor of DepEd Catanduanes, Tanael wondered if the province has already paid twice for the same property.
For his final arrow, he took aim at the division’s School-Based Feeding Program 2021-2021 that was reportedly started in December and will last until this February.
A total of 13,345 pupils who are categorized as malnourished or severely malnourished are supposed to be provided with milk and nutritious food, with the supply and delivery contract itself amounting to about P14 million.
Alleging that the menu included bread, fruit and filling for the bread, PBM Tanael asked why only two pieces of bread reached each beneficiary, most of it already moldy.
“Kung susumahon, sa alokasyon na P18, haros 4 pesos sana an nakaabot sa kada estudyante, duwang tinapay na bahaw pa,” he thundered, as he took a swipe at what he called “3Ms” who run things in the division.
The PBM’s concern is understandable, as even the parents of the beneficiary pupils are themselves wondering how the feeding program is being implemented, there being no face-to-face encounters between teachers and their pupils at the elementary level due to COVID-19 health protocols.
Indeed, there may be some things that need to be explained clearly so that DepEd Catanduanes could not be accused of rigging biddings, favoring certain suppliers and contractors in the delivery of module materials and repair of schools, and the more or less accepted practice of accommodating politicians’ endorsements.
Whether the SP inquiry will lead to reforms at the Catanduanes Schools Division Office is still too premature to divine at this stage but surely, it will be interesting enough for the media, anti-corruption advocates and even parents bedeviled by modular learning that comes with test answers.

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