By Liza Soriano
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros asked the Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday to prioritize educational reform rather than national security.
She noted that the agency’s proposed confidential funds are even higher than those requested by the State’s intelligence agency.
The National Intelligence Coordination Agency (NICA) has recommended a confidential intelligence fund for P141.2 million, compared to the P150 million proposed by DepEd.
“We do not question the legal basis for the provision of confidential funds to civilian agencies like DepEd. But their confidential fund, which they say is supposed to go to surveillance activities for the security of students and teachers, is higher even than what the State’s intelligence agency asked for. The budget prioritization is misplaced. Let’s leave intelligence and security to the pros,” she said.
Hontiveros said that any intelligence operation to be conducted by the DepEd will be “redundant” when there are already “existing national security, national defense, law enforcement, even women and children protection governmental bodies, and programs.”
“I share the department’s advocacy of making schools safe spaces for our children. These are important issues that have been brought up, but they can be coordinated instead. We should avoid duplication of functions and flagrant job-mismatch in government. Hindi trabaho ng DepEd ang national security. At walang kakayahan o imprastraktura ang DepEd na maglunsad ng surveillance activities at crime busts,” the senator said. (ai/mtvn)