CHED Chief Faces Multiple Charges

CHEd Chairman J. Prospero de Vera 3rd
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Commission on Higher Education Chairman J. Prospero De Vera 3rd Faces Allegations

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman J. Prospero De Vera 3rd is currently facing multiple charges before the Office of the Ombudsman. These charges have been filed against him by suspended CHED Commissioner Aldrin Darilag. De Vera, however, vehemently denies these allegations of graft and corruption. He asserts that he is not involved in any bids and awards committee and refutes the accusation that he manipulates procurement activities.

Allegations of Unaccounted Funds and Negligence

Agapito Lubaton, the administrator and chief executive officer of Marvelous College of Technology in Koronadal City, has filed a complaint against De Vera. The complaint revolves around the allegedly unaccounted P10.3-billion Higher Education Development Fund, which is intended for free tuition and living allowances for government scholars. Lubaton accuses De Vera of negligence in his duties as a public official, violation of Republic Act (RA) 11032 or the “Ease of Doing Business Law,” grave abuse of power and authority, moral injury caused to students and educational institutions, and nonpayment of living allowances for grantees and student scholars.

According to Lubaton’s complaint filed on March 12, 2024, De Vera should have been fully aware of the provisions of RA 10931. This law mandates the provision of sufficient subsidy for free tuition and student living allowances. However, Lubaton claims that De Vera failed to faithfully comply with this mandate, leading to the instant complaint.

Unpaid Dues and Misuse of Funds

Lubaton explains that student grantees enrolled under the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) are supposed to receive P30,000 per semester for tuition and a living allowance. The CHED is responsible for remitting the corresponding amount to the concerned schools. However, Lubaton’s complaint asserts that the CHED did not fulfill this obligation.

The P10.3 billion in question is part of the Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) allocated to the CHED. Shockingly, the commission’s total unpaid dues for the school year 2021-2023 amount to P2.1 billion. This failure to pay has raised concerns among stakeholders, including Northern Samar 1st District Representative Paul Daza. Daza emphasizes that the P10.3 billion is an earmarked fund that should only be used for its specified purpose. He further calls for an audit of the CHED, highlighting that scholars have only received a third of what they are entitled to under the law.

Impact on Students and Educational Institutions

Lubaton expresses his surprise and concern over the two-year closure of the UniFAST portal for the validation of student scholars. This closure has resulted in an increase in the number of students dropping out due to financial difficulties arising from the loss of their grants. Additionally, educational institutions are facing financial challenges in sustaining their operations, particularly in paying the salaries of school staff, teachers, and other personnel providing essential services.

In response to the allegations made by Darilag, De Vera denies these claims and suggests that any complaints regarding violation of bidding procedures should be addressed to and resolved by the CHED Commission en banc or the Board of Regents of individual state universities and colleges. De Vera also reveals that the Office of the President has instructed the CHED to form a fact-finding committee to investigate the allegations against Darilag. The committee will report its findings to the CHED, which will then submit the reports to the Executive Secretary.

In conclusion, the allegations against CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera 3rd have significant implications for the higher education sector in the Philippines. The accusations of unaccounted funds, negligence, and misuse of funds raise concerns about the welfare of government scholars and the overall integrity of the CHED. It is crucial for a thorough investigation to take place to ensure transparency and accountability within the commission.

Source: The Manila Times

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