MANILA – At exactly 5:00 pm, teachers from different city divisions carrying placards and banners held a noise barrage to call for the abolition of the pork barrel system at Paramount Edsa corner West Avenue, Quezon City on Sept. 3, Tuesday.
The teachers demanded for the reallocation of pork barrel funds to basic services like education. Teachers lamented that the pork barrel system has taken away intended funds for building new classrooms, hiring of new teachers, purchase of chairs, text books, and other learning materials, and construction of toilets. “Instead of giving the fund to the congressman as PDAF or the Priority Development Assistance Fund, it should have been directly allocated to the Department of Education’s budget,” France Castro, secretary general of ACT said in a statement.
According to Castro, for fiscal years 2011 to 2012, the funding requirement for the 103,599 estimated gross shortages of teachers amounted P17.18 billion ($385,719,712). The government could have solved this if the PDAF was used to fund it.
“If the P10 billion ($224 million) pork barrel fund scam has been used for public education for the FY 2007 to 2010, projected shortages for critical school inputs for school year 2011 to 2012 could have been substantially lessen or eradicated,” said Benjamin Valbuena, national chairman of ACT said.
He added that the gross shortages in school chairs during the fiscal year 2011 to 2012 was 13,225,572 costing about P12.9 billion ($289 million). The P10 billion ($224 million) amount from pork scam could have almost closed this gap.
In terms of water and sanitation facilities, there is an estimated gross shortage of 151,084 with funding requirement of about P10.2 billion ($229 million). If the P10 billion ($224 million) amount was used, it could have totally eradicated the shortage in water and sanitation facilities. Shortages of textbooks are projected at 95, 557,887 and this only requires about P5.3 billion ($118 million) funding. The cost of this could have required only half of the P10 billion ($224 million) skimmed in the pork scam.
Text by Anne Marxze D. Umil
Photos courtesy of Alliance of Concerned Teachers