MANILA – Students of state universities and colleges should expect fewer scholarships next year.
Patricia Licuanan, chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), said that the scholarship funds for the poor but deserving students will be reduced.
Licuanan told the House committee that from P1.314 billion this year, scholarship funds under the “Tulong Dunong” program would be reduced by P328 million.
This means that only P986 million will be left for student scholarship programs.
The funds will be allocated equally among all congressional district, according to Licuanan.
Aside from the funds under the “Tulong Dunong,” Licuanan also said that under its own regular scholarship program, CHED would have P539 million in 2016 for financial assistance to poor students.
Rep. Terry Ridon of party-list group Kabataan, meanwhile said that the “Tulong Dunong” might be a new hiding place for congressional pork barrel funds.
“CHED started it this year. It sprouted only after the Supreme Court declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund, otherwise known as the congressional pork barrel, unconstitutional. Lawmakers used to finance scholarships with their PDAF allocations,” he said.
“My suspicion is that the Tulong Dunong program just replaced the PDAF under CHED and state universities and colleges. Under this program, CHED may be allowing legislators to tap funds and identify beneficiaries, much like how they used to do under the PDAF regime,” he said.