MANILA - The Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) on Thursday said the Department of Education should know its priorities, as thousands of learners and educators grapple with remote learning due to the pandemic.
“Yung supposed priority ng Department of Education, which is education, which is of course, our teachers and learners, ay hindi nabigyan ng prariyoridad. Yan po hinihingi namin, mag prioritize po tayo ng maayos,” said TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas.
Basas, in an interview on TeleRadyo said funds used to purchase 254 units of Mitsubishi Strada should have been used to address education issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Of course, hindi naman nila na-anticipate na may pandemic ngayong 2020. Pero ang sinasabi po namin kahit pa noong 2017, 2016 pa binili yan the point is may issue po dito ng priority," he said.
The vehicles purchased from a single dealer are supposed to be used by the agency’s engineers for field inspections.
Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua had said the department procured the 4x4 trucks, which costs P1.5 million per unit, even before the pandemic so DepEd personnel could reach schools in far-flung areas.
“Alam naman namin na trabaho ng engineer napaka-importante pero para bumili ng Strada para doon sa exclusive use sabi, at para ma-reach yung hard to reach areas po, sa tingin namin hindi naman tama yung ganung kadahilanan,” said Basas.
The pricey purchase was to comprehend, considering the costs shouldered by teachers to print modules for the distance learning modality.
“Napakahirap unawain na meron naman pala kayong pondo pero hindi n’yo na-prioritize,” said Basas.
“Ang challenge namin, ang Metro Manila maiikot natin using a motorcycle, even a tricycle kung papayagan ka sa highway.
Pupuwede sa Metro Manila kahit anong sasakyan,” he said.
“Kung ang reason talaga ay para maabot yung mga last mile schools, yung mga malalayo, geographically isolated, dapat ang option natin una, motorsiklo, habal-habal po ang ginagamit papunta sa mga bundok na matarik at maputik kung ‘di man kabayo o kalabaw dahil wala naman pong kalsada po dyan,” he explained.
Malacanang earlier defended DepEd, and said the purchase was from pre-pandemic budget.
Some geographically isolated schools are not accessible by 4x4 trucks.