Team PNoy bets call for review of UP’s policy on student loans

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BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Team PNoy senatorial bets have taken turns offering remedial measures following the tragic suicide of Kristel Tejada, the 16-year-old Behavioral Sciences freshman of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila after she was forced to take a leave for her inability to pay a tuition loan.

Reelectionist Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda, along with Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, called for a review of policies of the UP system and those of other state universities and colleges (SUCs) in relation to student loans.

Legarda said this is in view of a possible expansion of scholarship programs offered to college students, noting that such grants are included in the annual budgets of SUCs.

Escudero mulls putting his pork barrel, technically called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), “for projects to enhance the quality of public education.”

Meanwhile, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara vowed to work for passage of “comprehensive and unified financial assistance system” for students in SUCs.

All four bets of the Liberal Party-backed coalition agreed that the government, more specifically officials of public tertiary systems, should show more compassion toward students suffering from financial difficulties.

“It’s very depressing that an incident like this has to happen, more so that it happened in UP,” said Angara whose father and namesake is an incumbent senator who was president of the UP System in the 1980s.

A daughter of a taxi driver and a housewife, Tejada was said to have been applying for a student loan and extension of the deadline for payment of financial dues since the start of the semester but had been repeatedly denied.

“Our Constitution guarantees the right of every Filipino youth to quality and affordable education. We should make sure that policies are implemented to fulfill this provision,” Angara added.

Angara, chair of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, said the incident should compel Congress to take a harder look at the proposed comprehensive and unified student financial assistance system that will fund quality education to benefit more financially deprived students.

Angara, one of the measure’s authors, said the bill would “harmonize all government scholarship and grants-in-aid programs to promote greater efficiency, coherence, synchronization, rationalized access, effective funding and improved coordination among implementing entities.”

Legarda warned that “when education becomes inaccessible, especially to those who need it the most, then it defeats its purpose.”

The Senator said, “it would not be a big dent on the government’s education budget if college scholarships are given to the poorest of the poor since SUCs are already in place and have their regular annual appropriations from the national government.”

Legarda said one of her priorities in her next term in the Senate would be the expansion of the government’s scholarship program, “ensuring one college graduate for every poor family, particularly by granting college scholarships to at least one member of each of the 3.8 million households that are beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.”

For his part, Escudero said he would seek an inquiry into the UP system to find out if the government-owned university has been serving its mandated purpose of providing accessible education to deserving students.

“Equal access to education is one of my advocacies. And being a product of the UP myself, I sympathize with those who are unable to afford college tuition even with subsidies provided by the state university,” Escudero said.

The senator noted that the UP system has the biggest network of state universities and at the same time gets the biggest slice of the budget for subsidies for public education.

He said the priority of his next term would be the infusion of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) for projects to enhance the quality of public education such as the rehabilitation and repair of public schools and the granting of scholarships in each district of the country.

Meanwhile, Bam Aquino, a former chair of the National Youth Commission, noted the irony of Tejada’s unpaid tuition loan as the reason for her to succumb to the pressures of poverty.

“One of our core beliefs that education is a way out of poverty. This particular policy that forces students to leave school because of unpaid fees only serves to condemn them even more to a life of poverty. This is not the goal of state universities and this policy should be scrapped,” he said.

Aquino’s research showed that the government increased its subsidy to the UP System in 2011 to P8.32 billion from P7.36 billion in 2010. In 2011, the university’s net income amounted to P904.47 million.

“It is unacceptable for a student to kill herself over unpaid tuition fees amounting to some P12,000 when the university had a substantial net income. It is especially unacceptable because she was seeking a loan and not a dole-out. We need to review schools’ tuition policies to ensure that more students are given access to education,” Aquino said.

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  • dingestraza

    Kahit ilagay pa ng mga polito ang lahat ng mga pork barrel nila walang guarantiya na hindi na mangyari ang naganap kay Kristel. Nangyari ito dahil sa “kasakiman ng tao sa pera”. Kung mangyari ang paglagay ng pera sa UP, lilipat lang ang kasakiman mula sa mga politiko at sa sakim na tao sa UP. Sa kalaunan hindi rin matutugunan ng pangangilangan ng mahihirap pero ‘deserving’ na mga estudyante.

  • go88

    look who is talking … and who is the mongoloid president who slashed the funding of public universities?

    • jga94

      “…… the government increased its subsidy to the UP System in 2011 to P8.32 billion from P7.36 billion in 2010. In 2011, the university’s net income amounted to P904.47 million…..”

      • JOHNCeneza

        Bakit may income?

      • go88

        credible sources please

    • Guest

      pumapapel ang mga nagpapasikat.. yun lang yon…pag d na c PNoy ang president, may magtatangka na i-oust cya but d daw cya makukulong like Erap and GMA… kc nga…. yun yon…

  • rburke

    Tell that to your father, Senator Angara..he is the author of this STFAP..thousands of students have suffered due to the inflexibility of this program..OFW children for one are having a hard time since they could not present ITRs of their parents though a lot of OFWs suffer gaps in employment..

    • jga94

      I think in principle this is a good program—make those who are able to pay, pay more—like partially subsidizing those who cannot pay….it only needs to be reviewed and fine tuned…..

    • Komen To

      Right on target. Before STFAP, GIA was working very well, easily and less bureaucratic requirements. Then the old Angaling changed it. Now, who among the legislators fought for a higher education budget during their terms? Now it’s showbiz time

  • Jesse_Bruce_Pinkman

    Lahat ba ng estudyante sa UP hindi nakakabayad? Bakit pinagkaitan yung isang estudyante na makapasok alam naman na walang pera e. Putang inang UP officials na sakim at bobo.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5UOZM4PWIDKO7G64HL3PPMXUTM Constantine

    All the UP Board of Regents should resign. They are supposed to be autonomous and fully independent and yet they do not know how to manage the financial problems of their students!

  • kismaytami

    More scholarships for the poor? LOL! Maybe, more scholarships for government officials/employees’ kids. Sila-sila lang naman ang madalas na nakaka-avail ng mga ganyan.

  • padrefaura

    sinakyan nanaman ang issue.
    akala ko pinagyayabang ni Pnoy na maganda ang ekonomiya ng bansa?
    bakit meron pa lang nagpakamatay dahil sa iilang libong piso lang?

  • disqusted0fu

    Something tragic always has to happen first before these “public servants” make their moves. Worse is that some political candidates even take advantage of the tragic event for more exposure.

    It is most especially unacceptable that these candidates and other government officials spend millions and millions for campaigning instead of spending it for better educational programs.

  • josefe38

    THIS IS THE RESULT NOW OF BUDGET-SLASHING MADE BY THIS ADMINSTRATION ON SUC’s. KAYA NAPAKA TAHIMIK NG MGA TAGAPAG SALITA NG MALACANANG, NASAAN NA SI LACIERDA, SI VALTE?

  • bayankopdi

    Sa lahat ng mga senators at congressmen…EDUCATION IS STILL THE BEST INVESTMENT…kung tanggalin na lang ang PORK BARREL maraming mahihirap na makapagtapos ng pagaaral, hindi yung ibigay na lang ang MILYON MILYON NA PORK BARREL sa mga foundations na PEKE PALA O NON EXISTENT..LAHAT NG SENATORS AT CONGRESSMEN KUNG MAHAL NYO ANG SAMBAYANANG PILIPINO TANGGALIN NA ANG PORK BARREL.

  • Komen To

    We heard of senators pork barrel (some are even UP Alumni) landing in bogus NGOs, yet payment for an P8,000 tuition loan cannot be extended? Where is the priority?

  • JasonBieber

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the Philippines lawmakers and its President did things before the fact instead of doing things only after tragedies happen?

    Many problems in the country and very preventable but the people running the country only focus on things after the problem is either out of control or out in the open. Fix the issue at its root before it becomes a problem.

  • MonGaspar

    education is indeed important. to be able to give one scholarship per family especially to those that need it the most is definet priority

    • ClaudineBeretta

      yes loren had a really good point. if it cant reach the people who need it the most then it really does defeat the purpose. to be honest i think schools focus too much on results.. especially high schools when they boast how many of their students get into different colleges or colleges posting high results for bar exams and such. i think we need to focus more on the people who cant cope as fast.. but thats a different story hihi

      • InaLorenzo

        i never thought of it that way.. that really is a amazing point.. they do brag too much :P but yes going around and back to the point of legarda i like the idea of people being given the chance at education

  • JewelAgoncillo

    education for me is the “core” of any person. we spend most of our early life at school. if the core is faulty or people simply cant afford to upgrade this core then they are doomed for the rest of their lives. education is not only essential but very important a look into the education system might bring about more and better cores :)

    • SelenaKatayama

      nice views! that is really a nice way of putting it

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