City scholarship program favors councilor’s schoolBy Doris C. Bongcac
Cebu Daily News
The Cebu City Council passed an ordinance to institutionalize the city scholarship program amid some objections in its session last Wednesday.
Councilors Jose Daluz III and Edgar Labella opposed the inclusion of Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa in the scholarship committee because of a “conflict of interest” involving his ownership of the Asian College of Technology (ACT).
Abellanosa’s school accomodates the most number of city scholars.
Of the city’s 7, 000 scholars for school year 2010 to 2011, about 5,000 are enrolled in ACT.
Mayor Michael Rama said in a separate interview he would study the ordinance first to see if he needs to veto it.
“It’s about ethics, good manners and right conduct. If he insists on it, then he is thick-faced,” the mayor said.
Daluz said he wants membership of the social services committee chairman removed since Abellanosa holds the post.
Abellanosa, however, said he won’t use his influence as an elected official for the benefit of ACT.
He said there’s always a way to deal professionally with the city government in tapping the scholarship program.
Labella warned that Abellanosa may be violating Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Ethical Standard for Public Officials and Employees due to a conflict of interest arising from his school’s dealings with the Cebu City government.
Under the city’s scholarship program, high school graduates in public and private sector receive P10,000 tuition assistance and P500 allowance per semester to encourage them to enroll in college.
Payment is made directly to their schools.
Scholars from the mountain barangays received an additional P1,000 monthly allowance.
Also included are youths who completed the Alternative Learning System and whose parents are residents and registered voters of the city.
In the ordinance, the program will be supervised by a scholarship committee headed by the mayor with the City Council’s education committee chairman as vice chairman.
Committee members will include the city treasurer, city schools division superintendent, city administrator, the directors of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (Tesda) and the council’s social services committee chairperson.
Abellanosa chairs the social services committee. Section 10 of the approved ordinance said the scholarship committee will evaluate colleges and universities that want to enroll city scholars.
But Councilor Margot Osmeña said Abellanosa cannot abuse his membership in the scholarship committee since it is chaired by the mayor. Eventually the council voted to pass the ordinance.