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Cayetano hits CHED’s ‘lack of sense of urgency’ on medical scholarship program

/ 04:41 PM October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Pia Cayetano on Wednesday hit the supposed lack of sense of urgency of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in the implementation of the scholarship program for poor students aspiring to become doctors.

During a Senate hearing on the proposed 2022 budget of the Department of Health (DOH), Cayetano said that guidelines and the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the “Doktor Para sa Bayan Act” were only passed last September 7.

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“I was shocked to find out that first, the information I had was na-FLR (for later release) ‘yung budget para sa ‘Doktor Para sa Bayan’ (the budget for the ‘Doktor Para sa Bayan’ was tagged for later release) and I reported that also to the Senate President,” Cayetano told Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“However, upon further scrutiny, it turns out that the guidelines for the said fund for the implementation of the law and the construction and support we were going to give to the medical schools, including the IRR of Doktor Para Sa Bayan, was passed only on September 7, a month ago, like what, more than a year after we passed the law and about 10 months after we finalized during the budget committee hearings that we were going to implement this full on.

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“Then the request for SARO (Special Allotment Release Order) was submitted September 9, to be clear, by CHED,” she added.

Cayetano said Duque should also be concerned about the issue because the law concerns medical schools that will produce doctors.

“This is the situation we are in, with CHED not finding this as urgent as everyone else in this hearing has been,” the senator said.

“There seems to be no sense of urgency on the part of CHED to get this going. It really boggles my mind and I was so shocked and I felt so bad because I had made this commitment to our colleges na ako ang bahala dito,” she noted.

In response, Duque noted that the DOH has also been pushing for the implementation of the scholarship program.

“We have been pushing for this and we know the importance of the strategic thrust of such a program. I will talk to [CHED] chairman [J. Prospero De Vera III] and I will ask him if this can be further pushed more aggressively,” said Duque.

Cayetano also urged Duque to attend the hearing for CHED on Thursday. Duque said he will attend the hearing.

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Meanwhile, in a text message to INQUIRER.net, De Vera noted that the crafting of the IRR for the said law is not done by CHED alone.

“It is an interagency & multi stakeholders effort and requires mandatory consultation. It can not be done in haste specially because it covers sharing of responsibilities across CHED & DOH,” he said.

“Translating legislative intent into executive programs becomes more challenging and in the end, the proof of a good IRR is not how fast it was crafted but how good it can be implemented,” De Vera added.

The “Doktor Para sa Bayan Act” or Republic Act 11509, which sets up a medical scholarship and return service program, was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in January this year.

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TAGS: Ched, Commission on Higher Education, Doktor Para sa Bayan Act, medical scholarship
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