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Briones rejects donations sourced from gambling

 No to PAGCOR funds.

This was the sentiment expressed by Education Secretary Leonor Briones, declaring that money sourced from gambling is “anti-developmental.”

Briones said the Department of Education (DepEd) will no longer be accepting donations sourced from gambling and related activities to fund programs for public schools.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) is among the biggest donors of DepEd– particularly in funding classroom construction for public schools nationwide.

“I have always been against gambling as a source of funding for development, Briones, a public finance expert, said.

She justified her position by declaring that while “you tell your people to be thrifty, to plan and to budget but you’re also telling them to take a chance.”

Under her term, Briones said DepEd will no longer be accepting donations  from the state-run agency but will not “dishonor” the  executives who  had accepted these donations prior to her term as DepEd Secretary.

DepEd confirmed that it has already returned the balance of unspent money to Pagcor. In 2015, Pagcor  allocated P10 billion to help address classroom backlog for public schools.

 Aside from rejecting donations from the gambling industry, Briones also urged the government to remove online lottery outlets  near schools.

 She noted that gambling should not be a major source of revenue for the government.

 Asked what prompted DepEd to shun away from using gambling money to fund programs for the education sector, Briones said this is to avoid sending the “wrong signal to students.”

 Transparent leadership

Under her watch, Brionesvowed an “active, transparent, consultative, collaborative, and corruption-free” leadership.

To ensure this kind of leadership, a general assembly will be held regularly to update employees of developments in the agency. “There will be briefings by each undersecretaries and assistant secretaries with directors on current programs,” she added.

Among the long-term reforms Briones is addressing is the “procurement and management system” which she considers as roadblocks. To address these, two undersecretaries for Finance were appointed – one in charge of the expenditure to make sure money flows and is accounted for, and another to manage budget utilization.

DepEd is also establishing an Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) to track the status of the agency’s budget releases and disbursements in real time.

In support of the campaign against the proliferation of illegal drug use, Briones said DepEd met with Justice department to form a Working Group that will forge a common legal position on drug testing for students and personnel among DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and Technicial Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and implement the comprehensive drug testing initiative in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH).

“One education intervention to help keep schoolchildren in school until completion of basic education is the continuation of school-based feeding program,” Briones said. “The proposal to have the massive feeding program will be reviewed amid budget implications,” she added.