By Villamor Visaya Jr.
TUGUEGARAO CITY-The Cagayan State University has already disbursed P152.16-million Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) funds to cover the last academic year 2020-2021 that benefited 26,121 students’ tuition and miscellaneous expenses, university officials said.
The disbursed funds have brought a sigh of relief to students “who rely on the funds due to their limited resources,” Dr. Urdujah Alvarado, CSU president, said recently.
“We then did not stop in sending letters and follow-ups. It is a “matter of right” of the university and “it should not be compromised” to receive P157.933-million UniFAST funds as reimbursement and we were helped by legislators. Ultimately, we received the funds on December 21,” Father Ranhilio Aquino, CSU vice president for administration and finance of the university, said.
“We then used the general funds to cover the expenses but when the UniFAST funds for reimbursement came in, we returned the monies for the general fund back,” Aquino said, adding that they spent P79-million for the first semester and almost P73-million for the second semester.
The UniFAST funds were earmarked to help students access higher education through Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Education Act. The 2017-enacted law promotes “the universal access to quality tertiary education by providing free tuition and other school fees in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs).”
On January 5 this year, the Civil Service Commission regional office has dismissed the complaint questioning the validity of Alvarado’s assumption into office as CSU president for a second term. She was first appointed in 2016.
In the 33-page decision, CSC Director IV Nerissa Canguilan favored Alvarado’s assumption as CSU president despite the non-submission of an appointment paper as required by the 2017 Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Human Resource Actions.
Canguilan said Alvarado may perform her duties “subject to the final outcome of the Petition for Quo Warranto” such as appoint employees, hire contract of service workers, sign disbursement vouchers, execute memoranda of agreements with other government and non-government organizations, represent the university in forums, and present at graduation ceremonies and confer degrees and titles to graduates.
Earlier, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) earlier claimed that the delay was due to the non-appointment of a duly-designated representative.
CHEd chair J. Prospero de Vera 3rd was at odds with Alvarado due to the latter’s reappointment as CSU president, claiming that it was illegal and that the latter has no appointment papers signed by the appointing authority and duly attested to by the Civil Service Commission. He had denied using the UniFAST funds as leverage in the issue. Alvarado’s reappointment was approved by the CSU Board of Regents but De Vera said that the selection of State Universities and Colleges presidents is governed by CHEd guidelines and policy. The Office of the Solicitor General has filed a quo warranto case questioning the appointment of Alvarado before the Branch No. 1 of the Manila Regional Trial Court, which is still pending.#