DAVAO CITY— After former House Speaker Prospero Nograles lost in the last elections, barangay captains supporting him have stopped recruiting scholars for Nograles’ Oplan Kaalam program.
At the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao campus alone, the number of Oplan Kaalam scholars went down from 174 in the previous semester to only 123 this year.
Jess Baswuil, barangay (village) captain of 11-A, said he was ashamed to endorse students from his barangay to the Oplan Kaalam scholarship program after Nograles’ defeat.
“Mahiya ako na natalo ang manok ko (I am embarrassed, my candidate lost),” Baswuil said, referring to former House Speaker Nograles who lost to Mayor-elect Sara Duterte in the last elections.
At the UP-Mindanao campus, where the scholarship has been running in the last two years, only 106 old Oplan Kaalam scholars were renewed while five of them already graduated in April this year.
Liza Fulbadora, head of the university’s scholarship affairs, said that 220 students had applied for the scholarship at the start of this semester.
Fulbadora also told Davao Today that former scholars were taken out of the program because they weren’t from the first district, which Nograles represents. Students had told her the program accepted scholars from all three congressional districts in the city in the semester leading to the elections, when the older Nograles ran for mayor.
Bawuil said barangay 11-A used to be considered a “Nograles’ bulwark” but the area did not deliver the votes in the last elections. Of the 2000 voters in his barangay, 900 voted for Duterte and only around 500 voted for Nograles.
Oplan Kaalam, which was funded largely by Nograles’ pork barrel, required prospective scholars to present a barangay official’s endorsement before they were admitted to the program “to confirm the student’s residency.”
Bawuil said he already passed on to the barangay councilors the task of endorsing scholars for Oplan Kaalam in his area. He said Nograles’ office might no longer accept the scholars coming from him.
At UP Mindanao, Oplan Kaalam scholars outnumbered all other scholars in the previous semester.
Oplan Kaalam scholars made up 35 percent of the 500 students with full or partial scholarships in the university. After the tuition fee increase two school years back, each unit at UP Mindanao costs 600 pesos and Oplan Kaalam pays for its scholars’ tuition in full.
At the University of South Eastern Philippines (Usep), where the most number of Oplan Kaalam scholars were enrolled, Susan Villarente, director of the Usep’s Office of Student Services, refused to reveal the number of Nograles scholars. She said the university had to seek clearance from Nograles’ office before giving out this information.
Representative-elect Karlo Nograles, son of the outgoing speaker, said Oplan Kaalam had 1,800 new scholars enrolled at Usep for the first semester of schoolyear 2009-20101. He said the scholarship program was set to spend 25 million for the school year. UP’s Fulbadora added that Oplan Kaalam is the only scholarship program in the university that did not have grade requirements. (CJ Kuizon/davaotoday.com)