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Menitobong scholars seek Marcos, Congress help in holding CHED accountable

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A group of scholars from the Menitobong tribe in South Cotabato called on President Marcos and the leadership of both Houses of Congress to act on their complaint against Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera III.

De Vera has been accused of irregularities in connection with the alleged unaccounted P10.3 billion higher educational development fund allocated for the free tuition and living allowance of government scholars.

The budget was earmarked by virtue of Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law. The 10 complainants claimed that CHED under De Vera’s leadership must be held liable for his failure to release the funds for the benefit of government scholars.

“We are, therefore, bringing this matter to the attention of the national government and the Congress to act on the non-implementation of the provisions of RA 10931, specifically the living allowance intended to be given to entitled scholar-grantees,” the group said in an affidavit filed Monday, April 15.

“Days, weeks, months and years have passed but still we and other student-grantees have not received our aforementioned living allowances, which made us dismayed and affected our studies… our parents definitely have no financial capacity to spend,” they added.

The fund in question was supposed to cover the living allowances of its intended beneficiaries for school years 2021-2022, 2022-2023, and 2023-2024. Under RA 10931, a scholar is entitled to free tuition and other subsidized school fees, including a P20,000 living allowance per semester.

The law provides that it shall be administered by the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education or UniFAST, which is in charge of implementing RA 10931 to ensure that all eligible Filipinos get access to adequate and equitable education.

De Vera has yet to issue a comment as of this posting.

Earlier, Northern Samar Rep. Paul Daza said P10.3 billion was allocated to CHED as part of the Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF). The fund came from the earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and travel tax.

“Those are earmarked funds by law and cannot be used outside of its specified purpose,” Daza said.

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