P10 billion of CHEd scholarship fund used for other purposes – solon
MANILA, Philippines — A total of P10 billion worth of funds allocated for the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) for use in scholarships for tertiary students, were used for other purposes, Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza on Monday at the hearing of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.
The amount is part of the Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF), which is earmarked to help hundreds of thousands of students.
The House committee was discussing House Resolution No. 767, which was authored by Daza, calling on the national government to include more students in its tertiary education support programs.
“The earmarked funds are what we call an off-budget, by law — travel tax, PRC [Professional Regulation Commission], and PCSO [Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office] shares go to that fund. That’s supposed to be for higher education. If CHEd did its job and engaged DSWD — and if they continued the 2012 grant-in-aid [scholarship] which was incorporated in the law, they could have helped a few hundred thousand students a year,” Daza said
“The funds were there. They were using part of it. They could’ve answered that ‘these funds are available.’ But they didn’t,. They used part of it, but they’re using it for other pet projects that I think are probably being misused. And that’s what I want to ask CHEd and Unifast,” he added, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino.
According to Daza, what CHEd did was to use these funds for projects that should have been appropriated under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) — resulting in a balance in the HEDF.
“This is the source as you correctly said, Mr. Chair. So in just… since 2016, it’s P13 billion […] they have all these different programs that should already be done or funded for the regular GAA. Before, they were already using the funds for scholarships, but it’s a small portion of the Higher Education Development Fund,” Daza noted.
“The latest data we had was 2021. There’s an accumulated balance of P10 billion. That’s what I meant when I said that CHEd had a heart, they would have gotten the list from DSWD and given them the TES [Tertiary Education Subsidy] Scholarship,” he added.
Due to time constraints, Baguio Rep. Mark Go, the committee chair, suggested that another hearing be scheduled to discuss the issue more thoroughly. Go also asked CHEd officials to present data about the topic, so that the issue could be resolved.
“In the interest of time Congressman Paul, because we have other items to cover, probably we need a separate meeting to discuss this matter because I want to see how much budget we gave the CHEd and the other items that are received by CHEd, and how do they spend this budget,” Go said.
Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Palma joined in the call for another hearing on the matter, as greater access to tertiary education is also a call among his constituents.
—WITH A REPORT FROM MJ SORIANO (TRAINEE)
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