/ 17 July 2021

SEVERAL youth  groups on Friday decried anew the failure of the Commission on Higher Education to disburse funds allotted under the Bayanihan 2 law.

The National Union of Students of the Philippines said that CHED’s underspending is a disservice to the students.

A report by the Commission on Audit said that CHED used less than half of its allocated budget for online learning under Bayanihan 2.

“The fact remains that only 40.61% of the funds have been utilized for FY 2020 as of December 2020. The extension of the usage of Bayanihan funds were a saving grace — but if it were not for that, it is clear with CHED’s underspending how negligent and irresponsible it is. It’s a disservice to Filipino students,” NUSP National President Jandeil Roperos said.

CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III earlier said that the COA report on the agency’s low spending is “inaccurate and misleading.”

De Vera maintained that CHED has utilized 99 percent of its Bayanihan 2 funds.

“The media and COA report also fail to consider the chronological release of funds, requirements for fund release, and implementation of CHED activities after the passage of the Bayanihan 2 law,” he said.

However, Roperos argued that CHED should have appropriated funds based on metrics and needs.

“CHED needs to stop washing its hands and start listening to students. A new academic year is fast approaching and more and more students doubt their ability to continue their education,” she said.

“Bureaucratic and slow-paced responses to the calls of education stakeholders, particularly the students, will worsen the already dire state of education in the Philippines,” she added.

In a separate statement, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines urged CHED to explain its failure to use funds for online learning.

“We find it unacceptable that public money for education remains unused given the myriad of problems faced by the Filipino students, personnel and schools under distance learning,” CEGP Deputy Secretary-General Regine Tolentino said.

Tolentino reiterated that CHED must listen to the students’ demand for P10,000 financial aid, urgent vaccination rollout, and safe reopening of classes.

“We stand in solidarity with students, school personnel, and all sectors gravely pummeled by this pandemic. As long as the pleas of education community remain unheard, we will not cease to assert our basic rights,” she said.