Press Release
January 18, 2016


With millions of poor Filipinos unable to afford college education, Sen. Grace Poe wants the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to explain how it could possibly fail to spend P1.23 billion from its 2014 budget, which was meant for financial assistance programs.

"This is an injustice to the students who should have benefited from the amount that was not spent by CHEd. They were deprived of educational aid from the State because of the failure of the commission to do its job," Poe said.

There are four million out-of-school youth in the country, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. Of this, 19 percent cited insufficient family income as the main reason for forfeiting their education.

The CHEd itself said in a 2010 media report that two out of five high school graduates were unable to go to college because of the high cost of tertiary education, Poe pointed out, saying it was baffling that such a huge amount would be unutilized.

"It is the government's responsibility to make education affordable and accessible especially for the poor. Nandyan na nga ang pondo, gagamitin na lang, hindi pa nagawa. Gusto nating malaman kung bakit nagkaganoon," Poe lamented.

She said the CHEd officials should explain how they failed to monitor and evaluate the financial transactions made by the CHEd's central and regional offices.

According to the Commission on Audit, the CHEd failed to spend P1.23 billion from its 2014 budget due to "internal control weaknesses" in the slots allocation, processing and releasing of claims in its Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs).

Out of the CHEd's P8 billion[1] budget for that year, P5.23 billion was allocated to accommodate 391,817 StuFAPs beneficiaries, more than 10 times the program's original 39,907 beneficiaries. The increase was beyond CHEd's absorptive capacity, the COA said, and ultimately resulted in operational deficiencies that affected the implementation of the program.

Poe, who leads presidential preference surveys, said the need for scholarships, grants and loans is often highlighted by the families she meets wherever she went in the Philippines.

"Kahit saan tayo magpunta, ang madalas kong naririnig sa mga magulang ay 'yung kagustuhan nilang mapag-aral ang kanilang mga anak. Tuwing bumibisita ako sa mga eskwelahan, ang hiling ng mga estudyante ay yung scholarships at financial assistance para makatapos sila ng kolehiyo," the senator said.

She urged the CHEd, which is tasked to formulate and implement policies and programs for higher education development, to immediately correct the flaws in its system and apprehend officials who were responsible for the mismanagement that caused the P1.23 billion unutilized fund.

"We cannot just ignore this delinquency on the part of CHEd. Our youth's future is at stake here," Poe said.

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