AUTONOMOUS Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman claimed to have uncovered 207,000 “ghost students” in the region from 2011 to 2016.
He said the anomaly was discovered when the ARMM Department of Education (DedEd) conducted a head count and compared the result with the listed number of enrollees.
For school year 2015-2016, Hataman said 56,423 ghost elementary and high school students were discovered, mostly from Lanao del Sur.
He made the revelation during the deliberation of the proposed P33 billion budget for ARMM in 2018 by the Senate Committee on Finance.
Created on August 1, 1989 through Republic Act 6734, the ARMM is composed of Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
The ARMM said the ARMM DepEd found that from 2011 to 2016, corrupt school officials, teachers and their partners in the government agencies padded their rolls with 207,084 non-existent students. In school year 2011-2012 there were 28,153 ghost students, in 2012-13, 75,242 and in 2013-14, 48,066.
“We will purge the list. It’s like you’re allocating funds that you should not allocate. That’s the implication),” Hataman said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the sub-Committee E of the Committee on Finance, asked Hataman to provide the panel with a complete report on the anomaly.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri deplored the web of corruption in the educational system.
“We have uncovered that this has been happening for many decades especially in rebel and terrorist-infested areas. We have to change the system in the budgeting of public schools,” Zubiri said.
“A number of principals, supervisors and teachers have been padding the rolls of students to get a bigger budget based on fake and inflated number of students. This racket has been going on and it is to the credit of the initiative and candor of ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman that this is now exposed,” he added. “Past administrations have pretended to be blind to this racket and in effect systematically robbed the future of Mindanao and its youth.”