By Liza Soriano
MANILA — To ensure that the program’s intended recipients will receive the cash grants, Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel requested the Department of Education (DepEd) for clarification on the significant budget increase for its voucher program.
“This voucher program being administered by the Department of Education has ballooned exponentially to a tune of P39.326 billion under the 2023 National Expenditures Program from only P16.534 billion this year,” Pimentel said.
“Why did it increase more than double? What is the guarantee that the budget will go to its intended beneficiaries?” the senator asked.
Pimentel pointed out that the SHS Voucher Program’s budget for 2021, 2020, and 2019 was just P13.692 billion, P23.93 billion, and P18.756 billion, respectively.
According to Pimentel, one of the budget items that saw the highest rise was the DepEd’s SHS Voucher Program.
“I am not saying that I am against it or it is anomalous. But I wanted to be clarified because this is such a huge increase that should not skip scrutiny. We are entrusted with the job of being the Senate’s chief fiscalizer and it will be a huge disservice to the Filipino people if we do not bring this to the attention of the agency involved,” Pimentel said.
In the 2021 Commission on Audit report, the SHS voucher program has benefited 1,107,083 students, below the DepEd’s target of 1,417,613, Pimentel noted. (ai/mtvn)