Lawmaker asks Ched to cover pork-funded scholars-A A +A
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
A MEMBER of Congress sought Wednesday the help of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) to cover the unpaid tuition fees of scholars funded by "pork barrel" of lawmakers following the Supreme Court's (SC) decision to put on hold the release of the second semester tranche of priority development assistance funds (PDAF).
Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento appealed to Ched to issue a guarantee that would allow pork-funded scholars to continue their studies for the remaining of the school year.
"I think that it would be heart-breaking if these scholars would become collateral damage to this pork barrel controversy. Since it is now impossible for members of Congress to continue financing the education of their scholars, I really think that the government, through Ched, should take over and guarantee that these young men and women would not join the growing number of istambays and kanto boys," said Sarmiento, who is also the secretary general of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
SC justices have prohibited senators and congressmen from touching their pork barrel allocation for the rest of the year, pending the resolution of three petitions questioning anew the constitutionality of the system allegedly prone to corruption and abuse.
The SC issued the temporary restraining order (TRO) in light of the petitions filed by losing senatorial candidates Samson Alcantara and Greco Belgica, and former Boac, Marinduque mayor Pedrito Nepomuceno.
"Shall we allow them to stop their studies because the funds coming from the PDAF for Fiscal Year 2013 have been put on hold by a recent Supreme Court's TRO?" Sarmiento said.
Scholarships are covered by the soft projects worth P30 million allocated yearly to each member of the House of Representatives. Another P40 million is for hard projects like the construction of roads and bridges.
Meanwhile, a group of protesters from the University of the Philippines Los Banos -- including students, members of the faculty and administrations -- staged a candle-lighting ceremony Wednesday to show their frustrations over pork barrel.
"While President Aquino, with his minions in the executive, relishes with the biggest sum of pork, 79 out of 110 SUCs will face hefty cuts next year. The UP budget alone has the worst cut of P1.43 billion," said Kabataan Partylist-Southern Tagalog coordinator and UPLB alliance campaign coordinator Rona Franca.
"Umay na kami sa pork barrel system, umay na kami sa ganitong sistema na paulit-ulit at palaki nang palaki ang kinakaltas sa budget ng SUCs habang napupunta lang sa bulsa ng iilan ang pera ng mamamayan," she added. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)