Iloilo ‘pork’ scholars sue college execs
ILOILO CITY—Students of a state college in Iloilo province, have filed class suits against top school officials who barred them from enrolling or securing school records due to supposed unpaid fees.
In a five-page civil complaint filed in the Barotac Viejo, Iloilo Regional Trial Court Branch 66, five students of the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC) sought a temporary restraining order and prohibitory and mandatory injunction to compel NIPSC president Ma. Theresa Palmares and vice president Hilda Magtiza to allow them to enroll in the coming school year even without clearances for their unpaid accounts.
Rica Segaton, Rovely Bermejo, Leah Mae Jardeleza, Joyce Ann Gaspar, and Meljohn Barredo, incoming third and fourth year students, filed the complaint in their behalf and of “other similarly situated students.”
They said they were unable to enroll because they were required to submit clearances for unpaid fees.
In a separate complaint, NIPSC graduates Mykha Grace Buaya, Remar Ojas and Jiezl Ferenal also asked the court to stop school officials from requiring them to settle unpaid tuition and other fees prior to the release of their transcript of records and school credentials.
The complainants are among the former scholars of the “Iskolar sang Quinto” (ISQ) program, a project of former Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. that was funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
The funding was discontinued in 2013 after the Supreme Court declared PDAF as unconstitutional. The scholars, however, were allowed to continue to enroll on the assurance of Tupas that funds would be provided to cover the scholarship program.
Tupas’ third and last term as representative of Iloilo’s fifth congressional district ended in 2016. He was replaced by his younger brother, Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, who defeated Niel’s wife, lawyer Angeli Lee-Tupas.
Palmares, in an earlier interview, said NIPSC received an Audit Observation Memo, dated Feb. 23 and issued by the Commission on Audit in Western Visayas, showing that receivables from the ISQ scholarship reached P74,739,380.
Tupas said that from 2007 to 2013, the ISQ and the government paid NIPSC more than P100 million for the scholars. He said P67.6 million (P37 million in 2014, P14 million in 2015 and P16.6 million in 2016) were also released for the scholarship program.
The court, on April 8, issued two separate 20-day temporary restraining orders (TRO) against NIPSC officials. The TROs were released on April 10.
One of the orders bars the school from requiring incoming senior students, who were scholars of ISQ, to settle back accounts prior to enrollment. The other order prohibits the school from withholding copies of transcript of records and other documents of scholars who had graduated but left outstanding accounts.
Tupas, however, said the school officials failed to comply with the court orders.
The INQUIRER sought Palmares on Thursday but she did not reply to text messages and telephone calls.
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