The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is calling for a review of the scholarship program of the provincial government, specifically focusing on the recipient selection policy.
Board Member Winston Arzaga said Tuesday it is because many residents of Puerto Princesa are benefiting from it more than those in the municipalities.
He said he was surprised by the fact that every time the provincial government announces that there are scholars who pass board exams, at least two are from Puerto Princesa City.
“Just to give you some data that I am very certain will surprise you. This data does not include those who have already graduated. What I did was get the total number of students, as well as find out how many are indeed from Puerto Princesa,” Arzaga said in his privilege speech during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Tuesday.
He said out of the current 784 scholars, 170 are from Puerto Princesa City.
Of the medical courses under the program, medicine has the highest percentage of students from the city with 52 out of 147 or 35 percent.
In the nursing course, out of a total enrollment of 357, 81 students, constituting 23 percent, hail from Puerto Princesa. This situation significantly displaces numerous applicants from northern Palawan, notably from Culion, who are unable to secure spots in the program due to being informed that all available slots have already been filled.
Due to this situation, he expressed his belief that the scholarship program should undergo a reexamination and be subject to changes.
“We have to be very cautious that the funds that we are allocating should be directly beneficial to our constituents from the northern and southern Palawan, especially those from the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas who long for the student grants from the provincial government, yet could not get it because we have already allocated them to residents of Puerto Princesa.,” Arzaga noted.
“There should be a committee that will screen the applicants so that those who will benefit from the program could be certified truly as our constituents,” he said.
Furthermore, he said he wants to find out if the current scholarship of Puerto Princesa can be withdrawn.
He also said it’s about time that the provincial board exercise its oversight functions in determining vital programs of the provincial government “so that at the end of the day, all the beneficiaries are certified, legitimate student residents of Palawan.”
“I would like the legal office to study if we can rescind the scholarship, which we granted to Puerto Princesans. If not, we have to find other ways,” he said.
In a statement, provincial information officer Atty. Christian Jay Cojamco said there is a total of 927 scholars benefiting from the SPS Alay sa Kabataan program. These scholarships have been awarded based on a memorandum of agreement that delineates the terms and conditions of the educational medical program.
Out of the total, 745 are from different municipalities of Palawan while 182 are from Puerto Princesa City, some of whom are children of provincial government employees.
This initiative, established during the tenure of former governor Jose Ch. Alvarez, remains in effect under the current administration of Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates, he explained.
“As of today, August 15, 2023, Governor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates has formally established the Screening Committee through Executive Order 72, a significant development aimed at refining the SPS Alay sa Kabataan Program scholarship grant,” Cojamco said..
“A pivotal qualification highlighted within this process is the candidate’s origin. According to Section 6 of Ordinance No. 3207-A, applicants must be bona fide residents of the municipality of Palawan,” he added.