CHED seeks exemption from budget hold, cites scholars

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2020 12:40 PM | Updated as of May 04 2020 12:57 PM

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MANILA - The Commission on Higher Education asked the budget department on Monday to exempt it from the non-release of about a third of government funds that state universities and colleges (SUCs) need. 

CHED earlier appealed in a letter to the Department of Budget and Management against its circular, which said only 65 percent of the 2020 funds of all agencies would be released to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, said the commission's chairperson, Prospero De Vera. 

Withholding 35 percent of the CHED's budget will stop it from giving additional aid to indigent students and reimbursing the tuition and miscellaneous fees that SUCs will not charge to their scholars, he said. 

This will also cut down the income that state universities and colleges need for the maintenance of facilities and the salary of contractual and job-order employees, he said. 

"Sana ma-exempt ito doon sa 35-percent non-release at kailangan kasi ito ng mga pamantasan at kailangan ng mga iskolar," De Vera told DZMM. 

"Any reduction doon sa pondo ay talagang may mga masasaktan na bata," he added. 

(We hope that 35 percent of CHED funds will be exempted from the non-release because universities and scholars need this. Any reduction if the funds will hurt children.) 

CHED is also studying increasing its P1-billion fund for interest-free tuition loans after the pandemic led to the job loss of some students' parents who work abroad, he said.

"Hindi kasi natin silang pwedeng ilipat sa public universities kasi sagad na rin ang carrying capacity ng state universities and colleges kaya ang hinahanap natin kung paano sila bigyan ng financial assistance," he said. 

(We can't transfer them to public SUCs because their carrying capacity is already full. That's why we are looking for ways to give them financial assistance.) 

CHED has yet to approve tuition hikes and is studying a stimulus package proposal to help private universities survive the pandemic. 

The commission is also "working double time" to prepare the teachers of SUCs for a shift to online classes, with only about 20 percent of them currently ready for this mode of learning, he said. 

With reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News