There were no funds appropriated for pandemic assistance to students in private schools in the 2022 proposed national budget, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Thursday.
In a congressional hearing on the agency's proposed budget, ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro pointed this out to CHED chairman Prospero De Vera III.
"Wala akong napansin na ayuda po or COVID response sa 2022? Kasama ba ito sa hindi pa na-release sa DBM (Department of Budget and Management) paano yung 2022 budget? Mayroon po ba doon?" said Castro.
(I did not see any financial aid or COVID-19 response in 2022? Is this unreleased? Do we have funds for those in 2022?)
Responding to the lawmaker, De Vera said they did not appropriate the funds in 2022 for student aid, but made a pitch for it in the proposed Bayanihan 3 bill, a measure yet to hurdle Congress.
He added that they were seeking to get more funds because they were able to spend the P300 million funds under the Bayanihan 2 for Higher Education Tulong Program (B2HELP) in 2020.
B2HELP, De Vera said, was used to pay for the unpaid tuition and miscellaneous fees of private school students amid the pandemic.
"Nagpropose po kami sa Bayanihan 3, sabi po namin very efficient ang aming disbursement. Sixty-thousand students ang natulungan, nagastos yung P300 million, dalawang buwan lang tapos namin," said De Vera.
(We proposed it to Bayanihan 3, we said we had very efficient disbursement. Over 60,000 students benefitted and we spent P300 million given to us in just two months.)
"Humingi kami ng P500 million sa Bayanihan 3, nasama sa House version ng Bayanihan 3 ng aming hiningi pero di kami sigurado kung ano mangyayari sa Bayanihan 3," he added.
(We asked P500 million from Bayanihan 3, the House version of Bayanihan 3 included this but we are not sure what will happen to Bayanihan 3.)
"Kaya 'di namin pinasok sa NEP (National Expenditure Program) kasi we are hoping it would be reincorporated in Bayanihan 3, congresswoman. So wala kaming 2022 NEP na ayuda para sa mga estudyante," De Vera further pointed out.
(We didn't include it in the NEP because we were hoping it would be reincorporated in Bayanihan 3. So we did not have aid for students in 2022 NEP.)
The NEP, he was referring to, contains the details of government's proposed programs which are submitted to assist Congress in deliberation of the proposed budget.
Castro reacted to De Vera, saying that they will scrutinize the budget in Congress and include the aid for students.
De Vera acknowledged the lawmaker, adding that they immediately distribute the pandemic aid if there will be funds to support it.
"Kung bibigyan kami ng Kongreso, agad agad namin iimpleement yan. Efficient ang implementation namin sa Bayanihan 2 funds," said De Vera.
(If they will give us funds we will implement it. We have efficiently implemented the Bayanihan 2 funds.)—LDF, GMA News