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Defective school buildings to be fixed, officials say

CEBU City Hall will cover the costs of additional stairs and emergency exits for the city’s school buildings, though it will do so gradually since their budget is still insufficient.

Cebu City Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said it is in the city government’s plans to add more stairs and emergency exits since the school buildings were built before the National Building and Fire Codes were amended.

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“What we can do now is to slowly correct the mistakes and make sure it will not be repeated,” said Young in Cebuano.

He said they will build another building or an extension of the existing school building.

The city government would then add stairs at the middle and on the other side of the new building.

A study by the Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd-7) noted that seven public elementary and four public high school buildings have defects.

“Gamay ra ang ihatag sa DepEd nga (The DepEd-7 had a small) budget, so the implementation is done by phase,” Young said.

He said he ordered an additional budget to pay for installing a second stairway in Tejero Elementary school.

Young explained that most of the city’s newly built school buildings have only one stair since they remain unfinished.

When additional funding is made available, they would have to build more classrooms and stairs.

“We have no control of the budget sent from Manila through DepEd or the DPWH. Most of the time, the funds are insufficient and many times we had to wait for the following year or two to finish the buildings. Some buildings take up to three years to finish,” he said.

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Young also clarified that the Basak Community school building had two stairs contrary to an earlier report that stated it only had one stair.

The vice mayor, who chairs the City Council’s education committee, said the safety of the city’s schoolchildren is being prioritized by the city government.

“Construction of a second stairway at the the school building of the Inayawan Elementary School is ongoing at a cost P2 million again using city funds,” he said.

Young said a completed school building in Cebu City has two or three stairs, while some had four stairs.

Assistant Ombudsman-Visayas Virginia Palanca-Santiago formed an investigation team to look into the building defects.

Mayor Michael Rama and Young said they will support the investigation into the status of defective Cebu City school buildings.

“Whoever would wish to come in can come in. We have nothing to worry about,” Mayor Rama said.

He said he will give Ombudsman investigators access to any papers covering the construction of these school buildings.

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