• Palace promises to keep ‘pork’ scholars in school

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    Malacañang on Sunday assured students who are beneficiaries of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” of legislators that they will not be yanked out school.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government will not allow scholars to stop going to school just because the legislators’ “pork” has been scrapped.

    “Tiyak pong sinusubaybayan natin ang sitwasyon diyan; ayaw po nating mapariwara iyong kalagayan ng mga estudyante na nag-aaral. Nais nating maging tuluy-tuloy iyong kanilang pag-aaral at matulungan sila sa pagtapos ng kanilang mga kinukuhang kurso [We are surely monitoring the situation, we do not want these children abandoned. We want them to continue their studies and we will help them finish their courses],” Coloma said in a radio interview.

    He noted that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is already looking for alternative programs to help the students.

    “This is also why we have state colleges and universities to take them in,” Coloma added.

    Last year, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the pork barrel system.

    CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan, in an earlier statement, said the High Court’s decision “has caused concern among students whose PDAF supported grants-in-aid will now cease.”

    However, she said CHED “will look into other possible funding sources so that the studies of these affected students will not be affected.”

    Licuanan said once the commission has assessed the resources needed by former PDAF grantees in public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), “CHED will tap into its Higher Education Development Fund, funds from the General Appropriations Act and possibly from the President’s Social Fund.”

    As early as October last year, Licuanan said CHED had appealed to the state universities and colleges to allow PDAF beneficiaries who were enrolled in the first semester of this school year to enroll in the second semester.

    “We are also currently assessing the situation of PDAF beneficiaries enrolled in private HEIs,” Licuanan added.

    Of the 3.3 million college students enrolled in various schools, colleges, and universities nationwide, more that 10 percent or about 400,000 are estimated beneficiaries of the “pork barrel” of legislators.

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