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Gatchalian pitches use of SEF for pandemic response in schools

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday urged state economic managers to provide more flexibility on the use of the Special Education Fund (SEF) allocated to local school boards to provide the much-needed additional resources for the government’s COVID-19 efforts.

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, said that under Section 4 of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act or Republic Act 11469, President Duterte could authorize the expanded use of SEF as part of his power to adopt temporary emergency measures.

The senator said the SEF could be used as additional funding for localized testing of teachers, learners and school personnel.

He noted that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has yet to issue guidelines on how the SEF can be used for the government’s COVID-19 response, while the Department of Education (DepEd) is still in the process of realigning its own budget to respond to the challenges of the global pandemic.

The lawmaker said utilizing the SEF is one of the fastest ways the government can extend more assistance to schools now adjusting to the new normal.

“Marami na ang mababago (There are many changes). Now that we are preparing our schools for the ‘new normal’ education, we have to make sure that we tap all possible resources to address the need for some changes in learning methodologies,” Gatchalian said.

The SEF consists of the shares of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays of income derived from the additional one percent tax on real property.

Under Section 272 of the Local Government Code of 1991, the SEF can be used for the operation and maintenance of public schools, construction and repair of school buildings, facilities and equipment, educational research, purchase of books and periodicals, and sports development among others.

“As we prepare for the safe opening of classes, our schools need all the support and financial assistance to fight the ongoing COVID-19 threat,” he pointed out.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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