• Ched urged to look into scholarship grant procedure

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    State auditors disclosed that the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) granted P112-million scholarship to students without demanding “adequate documentation” for the program, whose funding was sourced from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

    Audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on Ched showed that claims without necessary supporting documents reached P112.63 million.

    This placed the objective of the educational aid program in question as no strong mechanism was in place to ensure that the grantees were indeed qualified, the audit team commented.

    Documentary requirements needed from applicants include, among others, an annual income tax return or certificate of tax exemption, school grades, notarized contract between Ched and the student borrower and proof of social insurance contribution.

    In an inspection, auditors though said that Ched simply relied on the list of scholar submitted by legislators “without undergoing independent review and evaluation of the actual existence of scholars and their entitlement.”

    For school year 2011 to 2012 and the first semester of 2012 to 2013, claims for 10,777 applicants at the Central Office reached P57.18 million or P11.42 million form senators for 2,297 claimants and P45.76 million for 8,480 claimants.

    The P57.18-million grant came from 13 representatives and two senators “funded by their PDAF and DAP allocation.”

    Of these, 251 beneficiaries received financial benefits ranging from P16,000 to P11,000 per semester which is more than the maximum allowable benefit of P15,000 per semester for full merit scholars.

    Also, three out of the top 11 grantees, are taking post-graduate courses, “which are not eligible beneficiaries.”

    Elsewhere in the National Capital Region, a total of P41.35 million received grants from 31 district representatives and 24 partylist lawmakers.

    Likewise, Ched simply relied on the list submitted to them by the lawmakers.

    “Two checks totaling P658,673.95 charged from the P3 million intended for the operational expenses of the scholarship programs were paid to the Legislator’s Coordinator, without adequate documentation,” COA said.

    In Bicol region, claims reached P13.43 million but there was “absence of specific guidelines” on the selection for the scholars.

    The audit team found when they reviewed documents that it was an unnamed representative who is selecting his scholars, the audit report read.

    “The absence of concrete criteria may . . . be subjective considering the possibility that only those with political affiliation to the Honorable Representative may be considered,” COA said.

    COA warned Ched officials that if the deficiencies with the Student Financial Assistance Program will not be resolved, auditors may issue audit suspensions or disallowances, which will adversely affect the Ched’s grant-in-aid program. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON

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