• P1.2-B CHED fund unspent, probe sought

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    Congress should inquire into how the Commission on Higher Education handles its student financial assistance program (Stufap) in light of a Commission on Audit (COA) report that shows some P1.23 billion appropriated for college scholarships in 2014 was not spent as a result of apparent lapses on the part of CHED, according to a lawmaker.

    “While many of our students and their families go to extreme lengths just to pay matriculation, here is CHED, awash in government funds yet unable to properly perform its mandate,” Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said on Thursday.

    In its 2014 annual audit report released this week, COA noted that out of the P5.2 billion appropriated in 2014 for college scholarships, grants-in-aid and study-now, pay-later loans, about P1.23 billion remained unspent because of CHED’s low absorptive capacity.

    It cited several irregularities in disbursement of the scholarship fund, including unliquidated cash advances, ineffective monitoring and other operational lapses that resulted in “internal control weaknesses in the processing and releasing of claims.”

    CHED’s Stufap includes scholarships ranging from P15,000 to P30,000 per academic year, grants-in-aid and study-now, pay later loans.

    Ridon, a member of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, said he will call on CHTE through a resolution to conduct a motu propio hearing next week to summon concerned CHED officials to explain the irregularities.

    “Congress needs to see whether there has been gross negligence committed by CHED officials that resulted [in]this deplorable situation. This is important, as the Stufap remains to be one of the highly-funded programs of the commission,” he added.

    Ridon said he will file a similar resolution this week to also investigate a reported P3.13-billion fund that CHED had received from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that remains unliquidated.

    In the recent COA report, the audit body noted that “inadequate monitoring mechanisms and enforcement of the liquidation/refund thereof from recipient SUC [state universities and colleges]” resulted in the P3.13 billion out of the P4 billion DAP fund received by CHED remaining unliquidated.

    According to COA, the fund was meant to upgrade infrastructure in the SUCs and shoulder grants-in-aid programs and researches.

    “Where did these funds go? Why have these funds remain unliquidated? Clearly, there is something fishy going on. Congress needs to look into this matter, and see whether criminal acts, even corruption, have transpired. We are particularly concerned since these monies come from the controversial DAP,” Ridon said.

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    1. In April 2014, I accompanied my two sons to CHED office Quezon City to file student loan under the “study now pay later plan”. Together with me was a brother in a community with his two children applying for the same. After complying with the requirements, we were told to wait for a call. 2014 – 2015 school year passed, “ni ho ni ha” wala kaming narinig sa CHED. For awhile I read from news reports that CHED Chairman together with DOH Secretary talked with congressmen informing the later there was a PDAF-like funds in their department allotted for their
      constitutients. And to think PDAF has just been declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

      We can only heave and sigh and gnash our teeth the way our government officials perform their duties to uplift the life of the people. And that’s for the past 5 years and 6 months.