MANILA - The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has funds to sustain its training programs nationwide despite the delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget.
TESDA Director General Isidro Lapeña made the clarification in light of an ABS-CBN News report on the halt of a training program at the TESDA Provincial Training Center in Pangasinan, which was based on an interview with its administrator and a trainee.
Lapeña said there has been no disruption in TESDA training programs as funding is available. Five programs are also ongoing at the Pangasinan vocational training center, he added.
"...[T]here can be no shortage of funds for training. In fact, the TESDA Provincial Training Center in Pangasinan is currently implementing 5 training programs for batches which started late last year and will run until May. A new batch of trainees will be admitted after this," said Lapeña in a letter to ABS-CBN News dated Feb. 7.
He said TESDA relies on appropriations for the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act, which were released in the last quarter of 2018 and may be used until December this year.
He also cited a budget circular allowing state agencies to obligate funds it needs for the first quarter of the year pending approval of the national budget.
"The situation is the same for all TESDA schools and training centers nationwide. It is probable that the statements made by our school administrator in Pangasinan and the incoming trainee were taken out of context or otherwise misunderstood," he said.
The ABS-CBN report quoted TESDA Pangasinan Provincial Training Center Administrator Modesto Velasquez Jr. as saying the center was still awaiting approval of the budget.
The report also quoted a tricycle driver whose welding training was apparently put on hold because of lack of funds. It said the Pangasinan training center was taking reservations for now while awaiting funds.
Government has been running on a reenacted 2018 budget since the start of the year after lawmakers failed to pass the spending law before the December 31, 2018 deadline.
The House of Representatives held budget hearings and debates for four months before transmitting it to the Senate late in November 2018, giving senators insufficient time to tackle the bill before the year-end deadline.
The budget's approval was also dragged by allegations that Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had inserted at least P75 billion into the proposed 2019 funding for the Department of Public Works and Highways in favor of his in-laws who were working as government contractors in Bicol. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Below is Lapeña's letter in full:
This is in reference to a news story posted on your website (news.abs-cbn.com) entitled "TESDA scholarships nahinto dahil sa kawalan ng pondo" by writer Ms. Elaine Fulgencio. In the article, Ms. Fulgencio mentions that there are interruptions in the intake of new students at the TESDA training center in Pangasinan due to "lack of funds." Further, the writer has indicated that these are due to the delay in the approval of the 2019 National budget.
We would like to issue a clarification in this regard. TESDA's training is funded through its approved budget as well as appropriations for RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Tertiary Education (UAQTEA).
In DBM's Circular Letter No. 2019-1, agencies of the national government are "authorized to obligate the amount corresponding to their actual requirements under the regular budget for the first quarter of FY 2019." In addition, funds for UAQTEA were released in the last quarter of 2018 and can be used until December 2019.
Thus, there can be no shortage of funds for training. In fact, the TESDA Provincial Training Center in Pangasinan is currently implementing 5 training programs for batches which started late last year and will run until May. A new batch of trainees will be admitted after this.
The situation is the same for all TESDA schools and training centers nationwide. It is probable that the statements made by our school administrator in Pangasinan and the incoming trainee were taken out of context or otherwise misunderstood.
In the spirit of fairness, we hope that this statement will also be made public to avoid causing any further unnecessary confusion. Should you need more information, I will be happy to accommodate any questions that you may have on this matter.