SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Despite the cut in the proposed budgetary allocation for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for next year, House Members still want the CHED to immediately resolve important issues affecting students and teachers, such as the effects of the budget cut on scholars, the lack of appropriation for teachers’ promotion since 2013, and schools that operate without CHED permit.
In a hearing Thursday on the proposed CHED budget for 2019, lawmakers asked the CHED to remedy the issues for the benefit of affected students and teachers.
CHED Officer-in-Charge Dr. Prospero De Vera III informed the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) that the agency proposed a budget of P83.016 billion. However, the Department of Budget Management (DBM) only granted P50.443 billion, or a cut of 39.24 percent from their original proposal.
De Vera said the budget intended for the Tulong Dunong Program decreased significantly from P4.19 billion to P1.19 billion.
Per CHED, state universities and colleges (SUCs) would only experience the removal of additional stipends as they have subsidized tuition and miscellaneous fees. Thus, apparent problems will be experienced mainly by students from private universities and colleges due to the possible removal of their tuition subsidy.
The committee members expressed their concern over its implications on scholars who rely on the program.
“I hope we can do something about it to fill in the gap. Kawawa naman ‘yung mga bata,” said Committee Vice Chairman Paolo Everardo Javier (Lone District, Antique).
Deputy Speaker Romero Quimbo mentioned that CHED should also look into the profile of students benefiting from the subsidy given to SUCs and local universities and colleges (LUC). The profiling calls for appropriate granting of scholarships, he said.
“We need to see who enrolls in UP. Sinong pumapasok sa PUP? We expect you to maintain the standards. There should be performance matrices they have to meet, so that they can avail of the subsidy,” Quimbo said.
Quimbo explained that there should be an appropriate treatment given to students who graduated from public and private schools when availing of the tertiary level subsidy.
“I have strong reservations, when a rich student gets free education, while a poor one receives the same support,” he added.
Rep. Antonio Tinio (Party-list, ACT Teachers) said the P2.9 billion budget needed for the promotion of SUC teachers has not been provided since 2013.
“Ilang taon na pong delayed ang promotion ng mahigit ng 30,000 faculty in SUCs. Some are up for retirement eh, mag-reretire sila in the position that is lower than what they deserve. May implications ito, hindi lang sa pag-deprive ng mas mataas na sweldong dapat tinatanggap nila ngayon, magkaka-impact pa ito sa retirement benefits na tatanggapin nila, kasi alam niyo naman ‘yong retirement mo nakabatay sa sweldong tinatanggap mo noong nasa serbisyo ka pa,” said Tinio.
Tinio said that the teachers worked hard to obtain these promotions. Therefore, the House should push for its funding, he said.
“I hope the committee would take a strong position that it’s about time the DBM fund the promotion. Merit promotion po ito, hindi automatic na after three years ipo-promote ka. This is based on merit. Pinaghirapan po noong mga faculty ‘yan,” he added.
Rep. Lawrence Fortun (1st District, Agusan del Norte) then inquired about a school in Butuan called Colegio de Liga that was reported to be operating, since 2010, without permit from CHED.
CARAGA Regional Dr. Director Maricar Casquejo said the issue has already been settled for two years now.
Rep. Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay) said he is supportive of the CHED budget. “I am supportive of the CHED budget. Not the one which is slashed, decimated, but a resurrected budget with restorations and augmentation under the auspices of this meeting,” said Lagman.
Later, Lagman revealed a concern similar to Fortun. The Philippine Christian College in Pangasinan, which is founded by a constituent of Albay, continued to offer a degree program even without the authority to do so.
While 1,800 students were able to finish the tertiary level in the Philippine Christian College, they graduated with invalid diplomas, according to him.
“Yes, we cannot issue a special order (SO) for their graduation if they did not pass CHED standards. All the students don’t have an SO that means they cannot take licensure exams. Their diplomas do not bear SO, so their degrees are invalid,” De Vera replied.
The committee compelled CHED to remedy these issues for the benefit of the affected students and teachers.
Other House members present during the hearing were Reps. Celso Lobregat (1st District, Zamboanga City), Rodante Marcoleta (SAGIP Party List), Henry Ong (2nd District, Leyte), and Sarah Jane Elago (KABATAAN Party List)./Monel Gonzales/Novel Paller