TESDA Chief disowns ‘ghost scholars’ anomaly, vows probe

By Dhel Nazario

The chief of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) clarified earlier today that the anomaly regarding its “ghost scholars,” as uncovered by the Commission on Audit (COA), happened before his term.

In a press conference at the TESDA Women’s Center in Taguig City, TESDA Director-General Guiling Mamondiong said that the recent findings of COA should serve as a warning to all employees of the agency who are involved in illegal transactions.

TESDA Director General, Secretary Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong (TESDA / MANILA BULLETIN) TESDA Director General, Secretary Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong

Mamondiong said this following a 2017 COA report which found that TESDA paid P9.3 million for 310 scholars at AMA Computer College (AMACC) Manila Campus and P1.47 million for 270 scholars in Technivoc Institute Corporation (TIC) without confirmation of actual trainings conducted by the two schools.

The audit report said that out of 310 supposed scholars, COA was only able to contact 115 of them while the rest were not reached through the listed contact information.

AMACC on the other hand, told The Manila Bulletin that it has already returned the total amount of P9,300,000 to TESDA implemented as early as July of 2017.

“Additionally, termination of the individual involved in said activities was imposed in May of 2017 following an internal investigation. While an isolated case, AMA Computer College – Sta. Mesa Inc, only one of the over 150 schools within the AMA Education System has from then on applied more distinct procedures within its internal processes to ensure stricter audit,” AMA Computer College – Sta. Mesa, Inc. (AMACC Manila) said in a statement.

Mamondiong said that the presence of ghost scholars did not occur during his time in TESDA, but declined from pointing an accusing finger at anyone over the issue.

He said that the leaves it for the people to decide.

No corruption policy

Mamondiong reiterated that corruption has no place in the agency. He added that an investigation regarding the recent COA report will be conducted.

Mamondiong said that when he assumed office, he immediately created a Technical Audit Team that visited 4,283 schools nationwide with registered programs under TESDA to inspect if they were operating based on the rules and regulations of the agency.

The TESDA Chief added that he instructed Regional and Provincial Directors to submit the list of names of the scholarship beneficiaries in their areas for verification and validation in an effort to eliminate the possibility of “ghost scholars.”

The same team also verified if the schools had the capacity in terms of equipment and trainers to conduct technical-vocational training. As a result, 175 training centers and 6,273 programs were closed.

Three provincial directors according to Mamondiong have resigned amid rumors of involvement in anomalous activities. With this, the TESDA Chief ordered the reassignment of regional and provincial directors to dispel any adverse speculations.

A P50,000 reward for anyone who could provide any information regarding illicit activities involving TESDA officials and employees remains unclaimed, Mamondiong said.