COA order stopping LGUs from aiding public schools in paying electric bills questioned

DAGUPAN CITY — Mayor Belen Fernandez questioned the order of the Commission on Audit (COA) stopping local government units (LGUs) from aiding public elementary and high schools in their areas in bankrolling the cost of the latter’s electric consumption

Speaking to newsmen Friday night after presiding in a program that kicked off the more than one-month fiesta celebration of Dagupan at the city plaza, Fernandez said because of the COA order, her hands were tied and could not extend help “to my DepEd (Department of Education) family”.

A COA memorandum enjoined the LGUs to stop extending financial assistance to public schools in bankrolling the cost of their electric consumption as this expense can be taken care of by their respective Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOEE)

The mayor said she brought this up in the meeting of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) in Davao City late last month where top COA officials were in attendance as she observed that many public schools were not capable of paying their electric bills since their respective MOOEs were not enough

She said the COA officials who attended that LCP meeting vowed to look into this, a concern that is also shared by many other city mayors in the whole country.

“I would not want our principals and teachers to be put in a bind and am very much willing to help them in their predicament. But what can I do? There is an order from the COA stopping us from giving them help,” Fernandez said.

She expressed hope that COA will reconsider its order too soon and fast but if it will not, many public schools in Dagupan will run the risk of having their electricity disconnected by the Dagupan Electric Corporation (Decorp) for their failure to settle their electric bills.

Many school principals told the mayor if COA will stick to its order, they may be forced to pass the burden of paying electric consumption to pupils and students as a last option, a move which may not be appreciated by parents.

Fernandez admitted that in the past, the city government was generously extending help to public schools as she does not want pupils and students to grope in the dark, knowing that MOOEs of these school provided by DepEd were not enough to take care of all their needs.