Palace won’t let PDAF scholars quit school

Presidential Communications Group Secretary Sonny Coloma

The Aquino administration will not let scholars who received financial assistance from the lawmakers’ defunct Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to become out of school youths, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. gave the assurance amid fears that 100,000 scholars may no longer be enrolled this school year following the removal of PDAF due to reported corruption of the funds.

“We have no intention to let the schooling of our youth go astray, that is why the Commission on Higher Education is focusing on the problem and finding ways because financial assistance is part of the regular program of CHED,” Coloma said in Filipino over state-run radio dzRB.

This is also the rationale behind the scholarships granted by state colleges and universities to deserving students, particularly those who live below the poverty line and cannot afford the cost of education. And the CHED, according to Coloma, is one of the “vehicles” for students to avail of scholarships.

With the PDAF gone, senators and members of the House of Representatives made sure that their more than 300,000 college scholars continue schooling by allotting nearly P4 billion for them in the P2.265-trillion national budget for 2014.

The fund was pooled from the realignments made by the Senate-House conference committee on the budget, and these were carried in the budget law signed by President Aquino on Dec. 20, 2013.

The funds were distributed among 113 state universities and colleges (SUCs) throughout the country.

The biggest recipient, though not the largest in terms of student population, is the University of the Philippines that received P1.275 billion in funds. The additional funding increased UP’s budget to P9.373 billion.

UP, the nation’s premier state university, eats up more than a fourth of the P36 billion in combined appropriations for 113 SUCs.

The Polytechnic University of the Philippines received P25.2 million for scholarships, increasing its budget to P948.5 million. But PUP has a student population four times that of UP.

Some P22.5 million was added to the budget of Philippine Normal University, the country’s primary producer of teachers, bringing its total fund to P428.4 million.

Five other SUCs in Metro Manila received additional P53.3 million.

The allocations for the rest of Luzon are: P154.8 million for six SUCs in the Ilocos-Pangasinan region; P84.1 million for six SUCs in the Cordillera region; P71.5 million for five SUCs in Cagayan Valley; P144.8 million for 12 state schools in Central Luzon; P315.9 million for five SUCs in Southern Tagalog; P140 million for six SUCs in Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan region; and P288.6 million for nine government schools in Bicol.

In the Visayas, P233.6 million was given to 11 SUCs in Western Visayas, P160.6 million to five in Central Visayas, and P129.6 million to 10 in Eastern Visayas.

The biggest recipient in the south is Mindanao State University (MSU) that received P162.5 million for scholarships, increasing its budget to P1.940 billion. via The Philippine Star

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