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Senate realigns Tulong-Dunong budget to free college education program

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The Senate on Wednesday moved the proposed P3 billion budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)’s Tulong Dunong program to the free college education program.

During the Senate plenary debates on the budget, Senator Ping Lacson repeatedly questioned the regularity of the Tulong Dunong, noting that the program was being implemented by lawmakers, who do not have authority to do so under the law.

He said Tulong Dunong “looks and smells” like pork, and noted that it was made redundant and irrelevant by the free tuition program also administered by CHED.

In an exchange with the budget sponsor, Sen. Loren Legarda, Lacson raised allegations about how lawmakers were endorsing their own scholars for the program.

“Is this pork?” he asked Legarda, who replied, “It’s lechon.”

Speaking to reporters after the session, Lacson said Tulong Dunong had practically been abolished.

“Yan ang usapan namin, na i-incorporate sa budget ng CHED under Free Tuition Act para walang exercise ng discretion ang mga legislators,” he said.

“Ang mangyayari roon we can endorse constituents who we know are deserving but poor. They should be subject to vetting by CHED. Di ang congressman nag-ve-vet,” Lacson said.

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