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DepEd needs P1.6B to repair quake-hit schools

THE Department of Education (DepEd) needs at least P1.6 billion to repair schools damaged in the recent series of earthquakes that hit Mindanao, an official said on Monday.

Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the earthquakes destroyed 500 classrooms and caused “major damage” to 700 schoolrooms. It will take “more than a year” to replace damaged buildings, each worth P2.5 million, though cost may continue to rise.

Volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross inspect a collapsed structure in Daig Elementary School in Tulunan, North Cotabato on October 29, 2019. RED CROSS PHOTO

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recorded a magnitude-5.6 earthquake on July 9, magnitudes 5.5 and 6.3 on October 16, magnitudes 6.1 and 6.6 on October 29, and magnitude 6.5 on October 31 in Mindanao.

The damaged schools are located in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region and Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City).

Malaluan said they were prioritizing putting up temporary classrooms, while the DepEd Central Office would provide clean-up funds, learners’ and teachers’ kit, emergency school feeding and psychological first aid to ensure learning continuity.

In an earlier interview, Education Secretary Leonor Briones expressed concern that there might be insufficient funds for the reconstruction of damaged schools because their funds were depleted repairing schools damaged during the previous year.

Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the department had already requested the Department of Budget and Management for supplemental Quick Response Funds.

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