Issue of October 14, 2018

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DepEd hopes to finish hazard mapping for schools by yearend
by Jane B. Cadalig

BANAUE, Ifugao – The Department of Education is hoping to conclude within the year the baseline data gathering on public schools and inventory of school facilities in the country, which aims to determine, among other things, those that are situated in geohazard areas.

DepEd Usec. Alain Del B. Pascua said the ongoing nationwide baseline data gathering and inventory of schools will provide accurate information on the situation of public schools and guide the government on the interventions or measures to be undertaken to ensure the structural integrity of school facilities and the learners’ safety.

“Both efforts would give us correct or updated data on the situation of schools in the country, including that of the schools located in geohazard areas,” Pascua said.

DepEd hopes to complete the data gathering and geohazard mapping before the year ends.

For the Cordillera, Pascua concurred with the findings of concerned government agencies that a lot of schools are situated in geohazard areas. He, however, said the exact number and the seriousness of the hazard could not be determined after the mapping shall have been completed. 

He said the interventions to be done on schools located on dangerous zones depend on the nature of the hazard. For those that could not be remedied by engineering measures, Pascua said the ultimate solution is to relocate the school.

“We should relocate schools that are standing on geo-hazard areas kung hindi kayang i-mitigate or i-address ‘yung hazard ng engineering interventions; or if the engineering intervention is too costly and relocation is cheaper, then we should relocate the school,” he said.

While relocation is seen as the best remedy for schools in geohazard areas, Pascua said the DepEd has no budget to buy lots for school building construction.

“There are no funds allocated for school site acquisition. What is allotted in our budget is only for land titling. This is why we are relying on local government units to assist us in identifying and providing safer grounds for school building construction,” Pascua said.

Aside from relying on the lots that are donated or lent by the LGUs through usufruct agreements, DepEd also relies on the benevolence of private lot donors.

Pascua said in the case of private lots donations, DepEd cannot set standards in terms of the site’s safety from geological hazard.

“We cannot set standards kasi nga donation. Kung ano ‘yung binigay na lupang private donor, doon magtatayo ng school. We have to do with what we have and we address this by ensuring the security of the slopes and the stability) of the school building foundations,” he said.

For 2020, Pascua said DepEd will ask Congress to increase its budget to include funds for school site acquisition.

“We still have to determine the exact amount, but we might be needing around P5 billion to cover site acquisition only,” he said.

Pascua was in Banaue recently for a national convention of teachers.

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