By Ben Rosario
At least 90 percent of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) scholars endorsed by congressmen dropped out from school notwithstanding guarantees that expenditures for their studies will be guaranteed by government.
The Commission on Audit revealed that out of the 856 Tulong Dunong Program Scholars backed by their respective congressmen in Academic Year 2015-2016, a total of 773 failed to enroll for the next school years and did not graduate .
COA revealed in the 2018 annual audit report for PUP that dropping out from school is a violation of the Joint Memorandum Circular issued by the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Budget and Management in line with the programs of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act.
Reacting to the COA audit findings, the PUP management lamented that the dropouts have denied other poor but deserving students the opportunity to finish Tertiary Education.
“Further, the fact that the appropriations for TDP are apportioned by the House of Representatives to selected legislators and may prioritize students/constituents, it limits, restrains and deprives other underprivileged but deserving students of the opportunity to avail of the scholarship program,’ school officials stated.
Among the congressmen who endorsed the most number of students and graduates were Reps. A. Tan, 44 graduates out of 267 scholars; Robbie Puno, 19 graduates out of 144 scholars; Mirasol Aragones, four out of 71 scholars; N. Gonzales, five out of 66 scholars; J. Mendoza, five out 55 scholars; and Lanie Revilla, 3 out 28 scholars.
Former Davao City and now Labor Secretary Rep. Silvestre Bello enlisted only one constituent who completed a four-year college course at PUP.
State auditors said objectives of the TDP have not been accomplished due to the big drop out number.
“One of the objectives prescribed in Section 3 (d) of the same RA (Republic Act) is the producing of pool of highly qualified graduates and technical experts who will contribute to the country’s high level labor force through merit and talent-based scholarship,” COA explained.
Under the scholarship program each student will be entitled to P12,000 maximum financial support per academic year that will cover tuition and other school fees, educational expense and cost of living allowance.
For Academic Year 2015 to 2016, PUP spent P6,810,000 to finance the scholarship of the endorsed student scholars.