LINGAYEN—Follow the Local Government Code.
This was the order given by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) to the Pangasinan State University on scholarship grants for children of incumbent barangay officials following complaints lodged by supposed beneficiaries.
Sec. 393, Paragraph B, No. 4 of the Local Government Code provides that one of the benefits of barangay officials is exemption from paying tuition and matriculation fees for their legitimate dependent children attending state colleges or universities.
The PSU, however, has issued and been implementing its own policies, which imposes restrictions on the grant of scholarships as contained in the Local Code.
Under the PSU’s Socialized Scholarship Program Series of 2009 and the Board of Regents Resolution No. 47 Series of 2009, requirements are more extensive, including Certification or Oath of Office, Income Certification Form from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) which will determine the percentage of discounts: for a family with an annual income of P80,000-100,000- 25% discount; P60,000-79,000- 50% discount; and P59,000 and below- 100% discount).
The PSU also limits the scholarships to the following courses: fisheries, agriculture, and engineering; and requires beneficiary students to maintain an average grade not lower than 2.5 and without failing grades, and with at least 15 units load.
Board Member Angel Baniqued pointed out that no entity, not even the provincial government, can enact any law contrary to the national law such as the Local Government Code.
“You are practically violating the law of our land, the local government code,” said Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim, chair of the SP.
Baniqued also cited legal opinion of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on a similar case.
Defending the PSU policy, Dr. Merlita Q. Santos, chairman of PSU Student Services and Alumni Affairs (SSAA), said the PSU does not have the funds to subsidize the scholarship and that the school needs the income for its operations.
“The income is the source for the continuance of our operation… If such fees will be paid by the local government units, we will fully implement the Local Government Code,” Santos said.
She said that 45% of the school’s enrollees are beneficiaries of the barangay officials and if fees are not collected, the contractual employees will not be subsidized.
Baniqued, however, refuted it saying that PSU as a state university receives funds from the national government under the General Appropriations Act.
Meanwhile, Board Member Von Mark Mendoza cited the PSU’s new construction project worth P50 million, which is being funded from the university’s income from tuition and other fees.
Mendoza asked why the PSU can afford to build such a facility but not have funds for the mandatory scholarship grants.
By the end of the session, the SP directed the PSU “to fully implement the provision of the local government code pertaining to the benefits of the barangay officials.”-Johanne R. Macob