Wednesday, February 03, 2016


      Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo this week lamented deficiencies in the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) which denied or delayed financial assistance to thousands of students last
     He cited the observations contained in the 2014 audit report of the Commission on Audit which said that there were “deficiencies in the implementation of the CHED of the Student Financial Assistance Programs.”
     The COA report said this resulted  to“unutilized allotments/funds of P1.23 billion, which delayed the availment by the students of the benefits in the CHEDROs.”
     The audit commission also noted that “the total slots allocation of 319,817 students, with a total budget of P5.23 billion including continuing appropriations downloaded to CHEDROs, were beyond their absorptive capacity, resulting to operational defficiences, thus, adversely affecting the implementation of the program...”
    Romulo, who authored several laws providing financial assistance to students, said these deficiencies were “at the very least unacceptable because these funds have been put in place to ensure that qualified students are given financial assistance when they need them most.”
    “I ask the CHED to immediately address these deficiences so no qualified students, especially the financially handicapped, will be turned away or denied what is due them as mandated by law,” he said.
      Romulo, who is running for a Senate seat in the May polls, authored the Iskolar ng Bayan and UNIFAST laws, which provide scholarship grants to top graduates of public high schools and financial support to poor but deserving college students.
    On the other hand, Rep. Roman Romulo said the new administration should heed the warning of a foreign executive that Metro Manila could become “uninhabitable” if no urgent action is taken to build an adequate and seamless infrastructure network in the capital.
    “While there are infra projects underway and will be completed post-2016, it is clear that these are very inadequate. The public is at a loss as to what government is doing to address their concerns,” he said.
     “But we all know it is too late in the day for this administration to do anything meaningful in the next six months. All it can do is ease the pain of daily commuters,” Romulo said.
   The gridlock alarm was raised by John Forbes, senior advisor of the American Chamber of Commerce, who said that Metro Manila would become uninhabitable within four years if no new limited access roads, skyways and rail lines are built.
        Forbes pointed to the projected increase in vehicles of up to 500,000 by 2020, many of them in Metro Manila.
  The new administration should take meaningful action from Day One if we are to sustain and further advance economically and ensure that the commuter can avail of quick and comfortable rides on their way to work and school,” Romulo said.
       “In fact, the infra network should link Metro Manila with Central Luzon and the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) region,” he pointed out.
  Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo this week asked how government will spend the P19.2 billion budget approved last month by President Aquino to mitigate the negative impact of El Niño on farmers and consumers.
    “What’s the plan? Where will the money be spent?,” he asked. “All we know from reports quoting NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan is that there is a budget and that government is preparing for a worst-case scenario that may arise from this Godzilla El Niño threat.”
   Romulo pointed out that PAGASA has warned that as much as 85 percent of the country, comprising of 68 provinces, will suffer by April, a “meteorological drought” caused by El Niño. Twelve other provinces in Luzon and Mindanao will experience a dry spell. 
        It is expected to peak between March and May this year, the state weather agency said. El Niño is a weather phenomenon that develops in the Pacific Ocean that is a result of the warming of sea temperatures.
     “A consensus of climate models shows that it will likely strengthen further...and may last until the first half of 2016. This 2015-2016 El Niño event will potentially be four strongest events since 1950 (1972-1973, 1982-1983, 1997-1998),” PAGASA said.
     Already, Zamboanga City has began water rationing because its rivers and main reservoir are drying up.
    In a report in October, the HSBC Global Research warned that a prolonged dry spell might also lead to higher inflation and force the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to “hike rates sooner than expected.”
   “The least the government should do is inform the people in areas already affected by El Niño about the interventions being done to help them so they can avail of these assistance,” Romulo said./MP

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