CHED denies 'ghost scholars,' asks for more evidence

Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2022 06:55 PM | Updated as of Sep 28 2022 09:54 PM

CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III. ABS-CBN News/file
CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Wednesday asked Sen. Risa Hontiveros for more evidence on its alleged "ghost scholars," maintaining that it had no violations in disbursing funds.

CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera III told reporters that his office is ready to investigate the allegations, and has also asked Hontiveros for the names of those supposedly involved in the issue.

Hontiveros on Tuesday flagged CHED's alleged "ghost scholars" under its Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UNIFAST), saying she received reports that these scholars supposedly receive tuition reimbursement from students who have graduated.

"There are always complaints on any social program of government. And the best way to resolve that is to look at the names, look at the evidence one by one, and look at whether there are violations. As far as the commission in concerned, there are no violations in the disbursement of all funds for free higher education," De Vera said.

"I have asked Sen. Hontiveros to submit the names and the documents to us so we can go over it one by one. But we have not received any documents to investigate," he added.

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De Vera also reiterated that CHED would not be able to accept new applications for the Tertiary Education Subsidy, which grants financial subsidy to qualified students, due to a budget cut.

"Wala tayong bagong scholar. The funds that we have is only good for the existing scholars. And because we had another budget cut in 2023, we won't be able again to offer new TES grantees for academic year 2023-2024, unless Congress realigns funds so that we can provide additional subsidy to our students," he explained.

(We won't have any new scholar.)

"We are constrained by the existing resources we have. Iyon lang ang kaya namin sa ngayon. At least, iyong mga continuing scholars, sigurado pa rin ang kanilang funding. Hindi lang tayo makatanggap ng bago," he added. 

(That's all we can afford for now. At least the continuing scholars will still have sure funding. We just can't accept new ones.)

Meanwhile, De Vera said discussions are ongoing among CHED, the Department of Education (DepEd), and members of the Senate and House of Representatives on the proposed mandatory implementation of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.

The official hopes there will be "an agreement soon" so that a bill can be drafted to incorporate provisions from the other bills filed.

"Hindi pa settled kung saan talaga siya. Madami pang mga views, whether it is better to put it in senior high, whether it is better to put it at the university level," said De Vera, who has been vocal of his personal support for mandatory ROTC. 

(Where it will be implemented is not yet settled. There are still many views.)

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