MANILA - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has put on hold applications for its scholarship program "Tulong Dunong" because the budget has yet to be released, its chairman told a congressional meeting Tuesday.
CHED chairman Popoy De Vera said he had ordered the regional offices not to accept applications for this year's "Tulong Dunong," which aims to provide financial assistance to qualified and deserving students.
"There is a problem with the 'Tulong Dunong' scholars for 2020 because in the 2020 GAA, the funding for new 'Tulong Dunong' was put under the tertiary education subsidy. It is included in the allocation for RA 10931 or the 'Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act,'" he told the Committee on Higher and Technical Education.
"But since this was a realignment of Congress when we asked for the release on CHED budget in January, all the budget items or budget allocations that has a realignment from Congress we were informed by DBM (Department of Budget and Management) that they cannot be released in January because there is a 'for later release provision in the 2020' GAA.
"Which means that the 'for later release' will be dependent on the availability of the funds as determined by the DBM and the Office of the President," he added.
The State Universities and Colleges Tulong Dulong Program (SUCs-TDP) is intended for the ongoing grantees and new applicants who are enrolled or will enroll in any curriculum year level in authorized programs of SUCs.
A student grantee shall be entitled to a maximum of P12,000 grant per academic year or P6,000 grant per semester, which may be used in support for tuition and other school fees.
De Vera said they have requested in August and has written a letter to DBM asking them to release the budget, including the realignments for free higher education.
He is now asking Congress to make a special provision.
Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman appealed, "Nananawagan po ako sa inyo na kausapin natin ang ating house leadership upang ma-restore o ma-maintain itong Tulong Dunong financial assistance and scholarships."
Nueva Ecija 1st District Rep. Estrellita Suansing, meanwhile, suggested to De Vera for their lawyer to draft the proposed amendments.
"Yes, we will formally submit that to the House committee on higher and technical education," De Vera said.
Bacolod City Rep. Greg Gasataya wanted some clarifications regarding the 2020 scholars. "It is correct 'yung walang movement is 'yung 2020-2021 school year."
De Vera said stipend for 2019-2020 school year has already been distributed in August 2019 and is already part of the tertiary education subsidy. "Ang hindi po malinaw pa ay Tulong Dunong ay 2020-2021."
"The unresolved concern are for the Tulong Dulong scholar for academic year 2020-2021. Ito 'yung mga papasok pa lang ngayong semester. Wala pa ngayong linaw kasi hindi pa po binigay sa amin 'yung pera at 'yung house leadership will take it up to DBM." - Report from Bettina Magsaysay, ABS-CBN News