Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — Scholars of House Speaker Prospero Nograles, the Davao City first district Representative, are worried. When the congressman steps down after his last term in 2010, they fear that funds for the scholarship program “Oplan Kaalam” will also end.

So, when a Nograles staff mentioned this in a May 26 scholars’ orientation program, some scholars suggested letting Karlo Nograles, the son of Prospero Nograles, run for election.

The young Nograles, who serves as chief of staff of his father, said that of the 25 million pesos set aside for Nograles’ scholarship program this year, 10 million has been funded by the Speaker’s pork barrel, also known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). He said the rest was sourced out from funds of government agencies that the Speaker was able to access.

Now on his last term in the House of Representatives, Nograles is perceived to be eyeing the mayor’s post in Davao City. But Nograles denied this. The Philippine Constitution only allows elected officials, except for the President, three consecutive terms of office.

Most of Nograles’s Oplan Kaalam scholars are enrolled in the state-run University of Southeastern Philippines (Usep), which accommodated 2,862 scholars last school year, an increase from only 1,949 the previous year. Other Nograles scholars were enrolled in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and other institutions.

This year, 1,800 new students entered into the Nograles roster of scholars in Usep alone. Oplan Kaalam also expanded to accommodate district one students enrolled in the Mindanao campus of University of the Philippines. The scholarship program covers the full cost of tuition fees for these institutions while financial assistance is also available to college students enrolled in private colleges and universities.

Karlo said that Oplan Kaalam scholars and their families are hopeful that the program will continue. He said that the Nograleses definitely do not require the scholars to campaign or vote for them during election.

But at the May 26 orientation for scholars, a Nograles staff warned scholars that funding for the program will be automatically cut off once the Speaker will be out of office. Mag-tumba lata lang usa mo (You’ll have to while away the time kicking at stray cans), a Nograles’ staff said during the orientation.

Until someone suggested that the younger Nograles takes his father’s place.

Karlo, whose name appears with his father’s on the sides of barangay fire trucks and on the billboards of infrastructure projects, said he’s keeping his options open.

In the 2007 elections, he ran as the second nominee of the overseas Filipino workers partylist Kalahi, which topped the partylist votes in the city but failed to garner the two per cent of the nationwide total partylist votes needed to get a seat in the House of Representatives.

At 40,000 votes, Kalahi even surpassed the partylist topnotcher Bayan Muna, which only garnered 16,000 votes in Davao City. Nograles’ critics said Nograles only used the Kalahi to test how much votes they can summon for the local post in 2010.

If Karlo runs for congress, it is possible that he will be up against city mayor Rodrigo Duterte, whose term as mayor of Davao City is about to end and who, some people believe, is most likely to run for congress. (CJ Kuizon/

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