Initially, “Paglaum” scholarship program offers an educational grant for poor students yearning to have a college degree. Now, it is something that will give children of drug surrenders a glint of hope.
Vice Governor Agnes A. Magpale, the principal author of the “Paglaum” ordinance, admitted that the growing number of drug surrenderers compelled her to revise the measure to include its children.
“We are not condoning the illegal act of the parents. Remember that these children are victims as well. They need an inspiration, and we must make them feel that there is still hope in life,” said Magpale, who is known to champion children and women’s cause.
She said the program could have started out earlier had it not been overtaken by some significant measures brought about by President Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless campaign against illegal drugs.
Currently, President Duterte’s firm campaign against the trade brought a soaring number of drug dealers and users surrendering to authorities.
“We want to help those who are willing to be rehabilitated, have the capacity to achieve a college degree,” she stressed.
As of September, the Cebu Provincial Police Office booked 32,000 surrenderers in the province.
Magpale expressed appreciation to the Provincial Board for its quick action on the ordinance, adding that the ‘Paglaum’ scholarship is a worthy piece of legislation.
She also extended her gratitude to the technical working group of the Provincial Women’s Council (PWC). PWC serves as the implementing organization of the scholarship grant.
Last Sept. 14, the Cebu provincial government initiated the “Paglaum” scholarship program with a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with state and public universities, technical and vocational schools as implementers.
“I believe that the Paglaum scholarship program will provide an opportunity for our poor college students especially those children of drug surrenderers,” Governor Hilario P. Davide III said in his speech.
Tuition fees of scholars will be paid directly by the Province of Cebu to schools where the students are enrolled.
As per initial agreement, scholars only need to submit a copy of their tuition fee bills to the Provincial Treasurer Office, which would settle the students’ dues directly with the schools.
Among the schools who signed the agreement were the Cebu Technological University including its satellite campuses, University of the Visayas, University of Cebu, Northeastern Cebu Colleges, Mandaue City College and Lapu-Lapu City College as well as community colleges in various towns.
Schools offering vocational and technical courses such as the Banilad Study Center and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) also supported the deal.
With an allocation of P1 million, Paglaum covers ten scholars per district where they will receive P10,000 for tuition expense and P1,500 for subsistence allowance.
By next semester of this school year, “Paglaum” will start sending students to college.
In an earlier report, Davide promised to increase the program’s budget for 2017.
Beneficiaries of the program include persons with disability, victims of rape, human trafficking, drug abuse and child abuse.
Children from solo parent, deceased parents, underprivileged, marginalized and those from broken families are also included. (Kelvin Canizares)