BAGUIO CITY – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Thursday ordered all its agencies to help in the Department of Education's (DepEd) Brigada Eskwela, which aims to prepare classrooms for the start of the school year.
“I am asking the DILG family to help the Department of Education to prepare the schools so that the children and the teachers will be safe when they return to school,” he said during a meeting with local officials in Bangued, Abra on Thursday.
Among those under the DILG are the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and all local government units (LGUs).
“Magtulungan tayo, tulungan natin ang DepEd (let us help each other, let us help DepEd). These are among the immediate things that we need to do right now... Our energy should be focused on recovery,” he said.
The DepEd has set Aug. 22 as the nationwide opening of classes in public schools.
Abalos said the DILG has the "broadest" scope in terms of frontline duties, adding that LGUs are in charge during calamities, while the BFP and the PNP help out in rescue and relief operations, apart from performing their regular functions.
The DepEd in the Cordillera Administrative Region said 508 classrooms were totally damaged, 1,030 had partial major damage, and 1,114 classrooms incurred minor damage at the different public schools in the region.
Meanwhile, also damaged were 332 toilets, 151 hand washing facilities, 2,885 pieces of furniture, 13,468 learning resources, and 782 computers.
In Abra, the hardest hit province during the magnitude 7 earthquake last July 27, at least 313 classrooms were reported totally damaged, while 482 sustained partial major damage and 795 had partial minor damage.
The DepEd-CAR added that 160 classrooms in the province that are being used as evacuation centers were affected by the earthquake.
La Paz, Abra Mayor JB Bernos, during the meeting, raised the recommendation of the 27 members of the league of mayors in their province to push back the opening of classes by one month.
“The mayors asked for the postponement to give more time and leeway for the local government units to help the schools in fixing the damage incurred and set up temporary learning spaces in place of the classrooms that have been totally damaged [by the tremor],” Bernos said. (PNA)