Villanueva: CHED should have spent Bayanihan 2 funds

Published July 16, 2021, 5:53 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva said that he will be disappointed if the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) indeed failed to utilize the funds allocated for education amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Senator Joel Villanueva speaks during a Senate hearing on February 24, 2020. (Senate PRIB/Henzberg Austria)

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education, was asked in a television interview on Thusday, July 15, on the lament of students on the Bayanihan funds reportedly unspent by the CHED.

“I was the one actually who pushed for that ₱3 billion funding doon sa (in the) Bayanihan 2…And I’d be so disappointed kung hindi talaga nagamit nang husto ‘yan (if they really did not fully utilize it),” Villanueva told ABS-CBN News Channel.

The senator said he will ask the government agency to explain this.

The College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) on Wednesday, July 14, held a social media rally slamming the CHED for its supposed low utilization of its allocation under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Republic Act 11494). The law which expired last June 30.

They cited a Commission on Audit (COA) report saying that only 40.61 percent of its Bayanihan 2 fund was spent.

CHED chairman “Popoy” de Vera, on the other hand, said the media and COA reports were “inaccurate” and “misleading”. He clarified that the commission already spent “99 percent” of its Bayanihan allocation.

State universities and colleges (SUCs) were allocated with ₱3 billion for the development of smart campuses and procurement of necessary equipment to implement alternative learning modalities.

Also, ₱300 million was appropriated for the subsidies and allowances of displaced teaching and non-teaching personnel in private and public schools and universities, including SUCs.

Under the Bayanihan 2, funds not obligated before the law’s validity lapses must be returned to the national treasury.

“The point here is that, when we passed Bayanihan 2, these funds allocated to these particular agencies are emergency funds, so we expect them to use it as soon as possible and doon sa pagkaka-allocate ng ating Kongreso (in accordance with how Congress allocated it),” Villanueva said.

“For me, it’s more of violating the contract that you have with the public…We basically forced the public to pay taxes, right? And when they pay taxes, they are expecting something in return,” he added, appealing to both houses of Congress to exercise their oversight function on utilization of the Bayanihan 2 funds.