BAGUIO CITY – On July 1, the Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) through its secretariat, NEDA-CAR, conducted a special problem-solving session to facilitate the completion of school building projects under the Baguio Educational Facilities Fund. Data on 37 school building projects (SBPs) were consolidated by NEDA-CAR and discussed by the committee with both DPWH-CAR and DepEd-CAR giving updates on the status of the school buildings.
DepEd Regional Director Estela Cariño wanted to ensure the readiness of these facilities in anticipation of the return of Cordillera basic education students to school once health protocols will allow. DepEd-CAR raised various concerns on these schools during the Regional Social Development Committee meeting last June 8 after its engineers inspected the classrooms. RPMC Chair and NEDA-CAR Regional Director Susan Sumbeling offered to conduct a problem-solving session to fast track the completion of the school building projects.
DPWH-CAR reported that most of these projects under the annual Basic Education Facilities Funds (BEFF) are substantially completed. DPWH District Engineers from Abra, Kalinga, Ifugao, Benguet and Baguio City discussed the status of their respective projects citing that the delays were with mostly project due to manpower problems during the onset of the pandemic last year. However, the District Engineers reported substantial completion of the projects after implementation was fast-tracked when health and safety guidelines were put in place. The District Engineers deadlines for the completion of their projects. DPWH Abra set the completion of the Tineg and Quidaoen National High School projects by September 2021 and Ifugao District committed completion of Gohang and Damag Elementary School projects to be completed by July 2021. Likewise, District engineers of Upper and Lower Kalinga committed the completion of their building projects in July or August 2021. Further, Baguio City and Benguet District Engineers committed to work together with DepEd to iron-out some administrative hurdles to complete the school building projects in their respective districts.
DBM-CAR Representative James Degsi reminded the project implementers must ensure their project must be “shovel-ready”; securing all the necessary permits and clearances before beginning the project. NEDA-CAR, through its representative, Project Monitoring and Evaluation Chief Gregorio Ariz III, recommended that DepEd and DPWH must conduct joint inspection of all stages of building construction and ensure consistent status reporting for the Regional Project Monitoring and Evaluation System. Likewise, it was agreed that RPMC calendar inspections of some of these projects later this year subject to local health guidelines. Director Cariño thanked DPWH for their updates, actions, and commitments during the meeting. DepEd will coordinate with DPWH on implementation bottlenecks and will continue to visit the school buildings. Director Cariño expressed thanks to RPMC Chair and NEDA-CAR Regional Director Susan Sumbeling for initiating the PSS.
The 37 school building projects under the 2016-2019 BEFF were previously alerted as problematic with negative slippage. Out of these projects, 33 were reported to be substantially completed by DWPH as of May 2021. According to their report to Regional Project Monitoring and Evaluation System (RPMES) as managed by NEDA-CAR, only 8 projects under the 2017-2019 BEFFs remain ongoing for construction with an additional 10 projects under the 2020 BEFF currently undergoing implementation. The Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF) is a convergence project of the DPWH and DepEd to increase the number of school buildings throughout the country.
Head of the Presidential Management Staff in CAR Jonathan Ligligen who chaired the Problem-Solving Session reminded the body of the previous efforts of the RPMC to provide PSS for school building projects. The RPMC previously convened the stakeholder agencies to tackle delays in the implementation of 2016 and 2017 BEFF projects in 2019. In 2017, problem-solving sessions were also conducted for 7 school building projects that were flagged in the RPMC Alert Mechanism for negative slippage. These projects were inspected and the various problems were addressed, paving the way for their completion in 2018.