A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday questioned the P6 billion “pork barrel” of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), which is included in the P34.6 billion budget for state universities and colleges (SUCs).
During the Congress’ budget briefing on Tuesday.
Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list said CHED has a P5 billion lump sum fund and another P1.047 allotment for higher education development fund.
“This lump sum allocation is a recent innovation. In the past, the budget for capital outlay of SUCs is indicated as line items in their respective budget,” Ridon said in a statement.
“The implication of having such P5-billion lump-sum fund is that CHED —and ultimately—the Office of the President, will have more power and discretion in the allocation of the funds,” he added.
According to the 2014 National Expenditure Program, there is an “allocation for capital outlays and scholarship programs of state universities and colleges” worth P5 billion.
Under RA 7722 or the CHED Act, Sec. 10 appropriates certain share from the collections of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority’s annual travel tax collections (40 percent); Professional Regulatory Commission’s professional registration fee collection (30 percent); and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s gross sales of lotto operation (1 percent) to the budget of SUCs.
Ridon described this appropriation as the “pork barrel” of CHED Chairman Patricia Licuanan because she has the discretion where this fund will go.
“Now, CHED may explain that these funds will still benefit college students in the country. The problem with lump-sum allocations like this, however, is that it is vulnerable to corruption, as the actual program of expenditure is not presented,” Ridon said. “It can also be used for patronage politics, with CHED and the President prioritizing schools under the districts of Palace allies over others.”
Lump sum allocations, by nature, have no indications where the fund will go.
At least 79 SUCs face budget cuts next year. The University of the Philippines suffered the biggest slash with P1.43 billion; followed by Mindanao State University (MSU) with P829.732 million and MSU-Ilagan institute of Technology with P116.44 million.