Licuanan: Lawmakers didn’t get P4.1-B fund
MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chair Patricia Licuanan on Saturday maintained that not a centavo of her agency’s P4.1-billion fund for the grants-in-aid program went to lawmakers.
In a statement, Licuanan pointed out that Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. Antonio Tinio merely came up with the alleged P14 million individual lump-sum distribution to lawmakers by dividing the P4.1-billion fund by the number of members of the House of Representatives.
Licuanan said the P4.1 billion set aside for the agency’s “Tulong Dunong” program “does not qualify as a Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or congressional pork barrel contrary to Representative Tinio’s constant assertions in media that tend to disparage the credibility of the CHEd as the statutory administrator of the said fund.”
The CHEd chair said her agency had received the P4.1-billion supplemental funds under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which increased the number of program grantee slots from 58,141 last year to 423,270 this year.
She said that as part of the GAA and in abiding by the Supreme Court ruling which struck down the PDAF as unconstitutional, the commission formulated and issued in March guidelines for the administration of the program which benefits poor but deserving students.
“Contrary to Representative Tinio’s accusations, the CHEd did not give away P14 million individual lump sums to lawmakers from the P4.1-billion fund,” Licuanan said.
She said her agency welcomed nominations from lawmakers of their impoverished and college-ready constituents but the CHEd saw to it that the selections were eligible for the grant.
“As for the P14 million cited by Representative Tinio in the congressional hearing, this was derived from dividing the P4.1 billion by the number of congressional districts, an apportionment intended merely as an internal guide for the allocation of the grants-in-aid per district considering that the CHEd had to deal with a phenomenal seven-fold increase in the number of grants to allocate within a very short time frame,” she said.
Licuanan assured the public that regardless of the “persistent but erroneous labeling of the P4.1 billion as PDAF,” the CHEd remains committed to its agency’s mandate of ensuring that education is accessible to all.
Licuanan had previously been accused by Tinio of supposedly saying that each lawmaker got P14 million from the realigned PDAF allegedly in the form of the P4.1-billion supplemental fund for the agency’s “Tulong Dunong” program.
ACT has since been calling on Licuanan to resign from her post for allegedly tolerating the pork barrel system.
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