‘Scholars budget cut victims’

Rolando Andaya Jr.
Rolando Andaya Jr.

EXPECT 320,000 Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) scholars, including drug dependents undergoing rehabilitation and rebel returnees to lose their scholarship as a consequence of the Senate’s alleged unilateral action slashing its P3 billion budget under the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget, said a House leader.

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya, Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations, lamented that the Senate allegedly took away the P3 billion TESDA budget.

“(The) P3 billion (funds are intended) for scholarship of rebel returnees, out-of-school youths and rehabilitating drug dependents enrolled under the Universal Access to Tertiary Education. As a result, at least 320,000 students enrolled under the program will lose their scholarship this year,” said Andaya.

Earlier, Andaya accused the Senate of sabotaging the programs of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte, especially the “Build, Build, Build Program” after it allegedly unilaterally cut some P83 billion of the national budget.

Andaya challenged Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III to explain the budget cuts and name the senators who pushed for the realignments and where the funds go.

“All he (Sotto) has to do is explain to the public why the Senate slashed the budget not only of Build, Build, Build projects. Now is also the time for him to reveal the names of all senators who made budget cuts and show the items where these were realigned,” said Andaya.

“We wish to emphasize that the details of these budget cuts were not fully discussed in the bicameral conference committee. The senators unilaterally decided on the budget cuts and realigned them to other items based on request of individual proponents. Up to now, the Senate has yet to make public a detailed report on the proponents who recommended the individual realignments,” Andaya  said.

He said some of the items allegedly taken out of the 2019 national budget by the Senate include, but not limited to, the following: Department of Transportation (DOTr) - P5 billion for right-of-way projects; Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) - P11.033 billion for right-of-way projects; Foreign Assisted Projects (FAP) under DPWH, P2.5 billion; and others.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte will sign the national budget very soon and looking over the items he would veto.

“I think it will be signed soon… Every year, the President does line-item vetoes. So they’re just working now I think on what will be the line item vetoes. But there’s already a date for us to go to Malacañang,” said Arroyo, a former President.