Solons: No PDAF, no scholars

By Jenny Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2014 04:26 PM | Updated as of Jun 04 2014 12:26 AM

MANILA - With the cancellation of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), some lawmakers say they have no option but to cancel scholarship grants for their constituents.

Pangasinan Representative Kimi Cojuangco and Pasig Representative Roman Romulo said they have turned over a list of the names of their scholars to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in the hope that they will be accommodated into its scholarship program.

But the two admitted that the commission might not have the budget to fund all the scholars of congressmen.

Many lawmakers are known to adopt scholars who are sent to school through pork barrel funds.

Cojuangco said it is frustrating that her constituents have to suffer the repercussions of a scandal that involves some of her colleagues.

Cojuangco said they are still waiting for word as to how many of her scholars will be adopted by CHED.

Romulo said he submitted close to 1,000 names to CHED. He understands that not all of them will be taken into the scholarship program, he said.

Classroom shortage

Meanwhile, Cojuangco, who is also chairperson of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, wants a more transparent update from the Department of Education (DepEd).

Cojuangco said based on statistics from the DepEd, there is a shortage of about 66,800 in 2010 but this has been resolved with 66,813 classrooms constructed by December 2013.

The figures show there is no classroom backlog, which is clearly not the case, she said.

Cojuangco said the number of new students from 2010 to 2014 would mean more students and thus a greater shortage in classrooms.

With a budget of over P330 billion, Cojuangco believes the DepEd should have resolved this problem by now.

Romulo, on the other hand, said he understands that the main problem is the lack of areas where the government can construct new classrooms.

Teachers' wage increase

Meanwhile, on increasing the salary of teachers, Romulo said there are a number of bills that propose this. However, even if the bill is able to pass third reading, it still has to go through the appropriations committee where it is usually shot down for lack of funds.

Cojuangco said she has filed a bill seeking to increase teachers' allowance from P1,000 to P2,000.

The official said the government might not be able to accommodate the P5,000 wage increase that some teachers are asking for but an increase in allowance could mean a lot to low-income teachers.