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MGB clearance needed in school construction

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

THE Department of Education (DepEd) in Bicol will no longer rebuild and construct new school buildings without a clearance from the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to prevent the establishment of schools in unsafe zones.

Gilbert Sadsad, DepEd Bicol regional director, said that numerous public school buildings, which served as evacuation camps during typhoons, were built either in flood or hazardous zone.

“We will no longer be allowed to build new schools in Bicol without certification from the MGB, certifying that the place is safe so that there will be no school established in a hazard zone like in the past”, Sadsad said.

Data released by DepEd show that there are 2,454 schools in the region that suffered infrastructure damage due to the typhoons.

THE MAYNONONG ELEMENTARY SCHOOL needs a big budget for the restoration of school left damaged by supertyphoon Rolly while stones from the shorelines of Maynonong village scattered all over the playground. (Rhaydz B. Barcia)

The data further reveal that there are 2,599 totally damaged classrooms that are needed to be replaced; 5,781 classrooms with major damages (need major repair but cannot be repaired by the school); and 6,078 classrooms with minor damage (need minor repair and can be done by the schools).

DepEd Bicol reported some P11 billion worth of damages to its school buildings by Typhoons “Quinta”, “Rolly” and “Ulysses” that pummeled Bicol last year. Damages to infrastructures amounted to P10.6 billion while for non-infrastructure, the damages totaled to P392.4 million.

One of the severely hit public schools in Albay was the Maynonong Elementary School in Tiwi town. The school is located within a landslide prone area and along the shoreline. The school was destroyed by storm surge last year.

Sadsad said that Maynonong Elementary School is unsafe and dangerous for students but they could not relocate the school due to unavailability of a relocation site.

DepEd is conducting inspection of schools across the region that served as evacuation centers during calamity to ensure the safety of evacuees.

Sadsad said DepEd is hoping that funds will be allocated to rehabilitate the damaged school buildings and facilities.

He said that given the funds, it will take DepEd one year to repair the damages to the 2,454 schools affected by the typhoons.

“We are hoping that the budget will be released immediately to rehabilitate the school facilities. The rehabilitation process depends on the budget given by the national government. If it is one time big-time release, we can rehabilitate the school facilities in one year,” he said.

DepEd Bicol needs more than P11 billion funds to restore the school buildings and facilities devastated by the typhoons.

If the national government will not provide funds for this, we will depend on the department’s P2 billion yearly Quick Response Fund (QRF), which is insufficient to repair the 2,454 schools. If that happens, we will rely on the help of private groups, Sadsad said.


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