LEGAZPI CITY: For failing to answer a letter dated March 5, 2014 concerning the list of students covered by the P700-million scholarship program, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda is now in hot water.
In a five-page complaint filed by the Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) Bicol Chapter before the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon on May 2, 2014, Salceda was charged with violating Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards covering government officials and employees.
While Salceda was humble enough to ask forgiveness and understanding for this oversight, the Albay governor said the CCW is also to blame for not coordinating with his office that has already addressed this issue.
The letter in question was received by Salceda’s office on March 6, 2014. In it, CCW Regional Chairman Diego Magpantay requested for a list of students included in the P700-million scholarship program funded by the Land Bank of the Philippines and obtained by the provincial government in July 2010. Magpantay also asked for a copy of the loan contract with the said bank.
The scholarship program aims to produce at least one college graduate of any 4-year course for families covered during the period. Graduates are expected to pay the interest-free loan once employed.
When Salceda failed to answer, CCW sent another letter on March 31, 2014, reiterating its request and saying that it would resort to legal means if it still got no answer.
Salceda said he replied to the CCW Albay Chapter and wrote to CCW Chairman Jose Villegas about this.
He also ordered education department head Nenita B. Villalon to be transparent about the scholarship program to erase any doubts about it.
Salceda revealed that a total of P380 million has already been used to support 76,137 scholars who each received P5,000 for every enrolled semester covering the period 2010 – 2014.
This is not the first time Salceda has gotten into trouble because of the scholarship program. Barely a year after it was launched, provincial board member Neil Montallana revealed in his privilege speech during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan regular session in 2011 that many students were surprised that their tuition fees were not paid for in spite of the fact that the provincial government said that checks had already been issued to the schools concerned.