THE Department of Education (DepEd) is invariably the biggest organization in the bureaucracy, and whatever is the national government’s action plan of containment and treatment of the coronavirus 2019 disease necessarily involves this department.
With some 800,000 public school teachers and several thousands more of non-teaching personnel, the DepEd employs more than a million Filipinos, and has effective control over school buildings, dormitories, gymnasiums, convention halls and rooms, and accommodation facilities.
All these President Duterte needs to harmonize with the national plan if we are to succeed in fighting the virus.
It is reassuring therefore that the DepEd announced that it continues to respond to the public health emergency through policy directives aimed at promoting the welfare of students, teachers and other department personnel.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones told reporters in an interview something like this: “This is how things need to be done — government has to continue, education has to continue, services have to be delivered, salaries and benefits have to be paid.”
The department is not remiss in its duty to fast-track processing and release of the salaries of employees for March and April. This includes personnel under Contract of Service and Job Order categories, who are most vulnerable to the pangs of hunger during this time of enhanced community quarantine.
Briones also announced that they are looking to provide additional provident funds to field offices even as they await clearance from the Department of Budget and Management so that regular employees may receive their clothing allowances and Performance-Based Bonus (PBB) for Fiscal Year 2018 for school-based personnel.
There is a risk that non-school-based personnel may not get this bonus, and the secretary is working on that, too.
Many Filipinos are thankful and happy to see that Secretary Briones and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other senior citizens in the Cabinet are working doggedly and delivering the services needed at this time of need.