CHED denies misusing funds
MANILA — House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Paul Daza raised concern over the alleged misuse of P10-billion worth of scholarship fund by the Commission on Higher Education.
Speaking to ANC on Friday, the Northern Samar lawmaker said the amount, which is part of the Higher Education Development Fund, could have assisted hundreds of thousands of students annually.
"In our last committee hearing, it came out that essentially CHED has not utilized as of 2021 report P10 billion," Daza told "Headstart".
The HEDF, which comes from travel tax and shares from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Professional Regulation Commission, could have been used for students' financial assistance, Daza said.
He noted that the dropout rate among college students was between 25 and 30 percent.
"The law said free tuition and dapat may living allowance para nga maka-graduate lahat. Delayed pa ang mga releases," Daza said. "We need to really shake up CHED."
Based on records, about P2 billion in HEDF was used in 2016 for students' financial assistance, the lawmaker said.
But when CHED chairman Prospero De Vera came in, about P200 million was only spent, he claimed.
"They're using funds for all sorts of different programs," Daza said.
"It's a combination of all. Underspending, misspending and a lot of issues raised by COA," he added.
Daza said De Vera needs to appear at the next hearing of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.
"If he can't respond well to the COA audit reports, underutilization, what has he done to reduce dropout rate? What has he done to help our needy students from the 4Ps?" he said.
"If he can't answer those questions well, I will be the first member to consider asking the President to maybe revamp the Commission on Higher Education."
CHED denied it misused the funds.
Citing laws, De Vera asserted that the HEDF is meant to strengthen higher education and it is not a scholarship fund.
"I don't know where the idea came from that there's a P10 billion scholarship fund," he said in a statement.
"Based on these 2 laws, the CHED law and the Tourism Act of 2009, the CHED has been using the HEDF to provide grants to higher education institutions."