THE “blame game” being played by the Cebu City Government and the administration of the Asian College of Technology International Foundation (ACTIEF) has confused the city-funded scholars and their parents and made their lives miserable.
The city government refused to pay the school P135-million in tuition for the scholars enrolled there pending the resolution of the declaratory relief case it filed in court.
The Office of the Ombudsman has earlier found the school owner, Cebu City south district Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa, guilty of conflict of interest. He was city councilor when his school benefitted from the city’s scholarship program. Thus, the city sought the court’s opinion on whether it should pay ACTIEF considering Abellanosa’s case.
ACTIEF refused to release the transcript of records and diploma of the scholars who graduated from the school pending settlement of the city's financial obligation, thus jeopardizing their employment. Current scholars are also in limbo because city officials told them not to enroll in ACTIEF pending the resolution of the civil case.
I pity the students and their parents because they are just caught in the political crossfire between incumbent city officials and Abellanosa, who is with the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).
In my interview with him over dySS Super Radyo, Abellanosa claimed he was made a scapegoat by city officials to justify its non-payment of the city's obligation to ACTIEF and other schools that accepted city scholars. He claimed that in reality the city has run out of funds for this purpose. Mayor Mike Rama denied this.
I won’t go into the details of this brouhaha. Both sides have their reasons and justifications. But if they are really concerned with the plight and welfare of the scholars, why don't they come up with a compromise and forge a win-win solution to this dispute?
Let the ombudsman resolve the motion for reconsideration filed by Bebot on his dismissal and pursue the criminal case. The civil case can be resolved easily or it can be withdrawn if the city government wants to offer a win-win solution.
I hope they can settle this amicably.
Militant student groups have found reason to condemn the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) for allowing increases in the tuition in 313 colleges and universities nationwide, including some tertiary institutions based in Cebu.
The youth groups also lambasted the Aquino administration for allowing capitalists to grow at the expense of the students. Under the Aquino administration, they said, the youths are being robbed not only of their money but also their right to education.
Last May 19, Jhomary Azaula, a student of the Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST), committed suicide because he could not continue his studies due to his family's financial difficulties. Last year, Kristel Tejada and Rosanna Sanfuegos also committed suicide for the same reason.
I don't know if their failure to continue their studies because of financial constraints were the reason those students committed suicide. But these militant student groups just hyped the issue for their personal and hidden agenda.
If financial problem is the main reason why a student cannot pursue his studies, won't he apply as a working student either in their school or private establishments? Many “waiters” in fast food chains are working students.
I was a working student during my college days. I joined the media in Zamboanga City as radio anchor and newspaper reporter while taking up a Mass Communications course at the Ateneo de Zamboanga. That was 35 years ago.
My parents were ordinary farmers and raising six children was not an easy thing for them. But I survived.
I have an advice for striving students based on my experience. The key words are: dedication, determination and perseverance. The billionaires we have now like Lucio Tan, John Gokongwei, Henry Sy and ring icon Manny Pacquaio started from scratch. But look where they are now.
Committing suicide is not the solution.