The corruption of the NCIP scholarship program
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
No doubt about it, education is the great equalizer between the privileged and the un- or under- privileged.
So there is the NCIP scholarship grant for Cordillerans. In the 60s and 70s, the scholarship was being administered by the Panamin (the Presidential Arm on National Minorities). Now, I don’t know the name of the scholarship program but it is still the same, for us minorities, and is still being administered by the same government agency that is supposed to take care of our welfare. That is, we, the minorities. That agency is the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Back then (in the 60s and 70s) as it is now, the program was never ran efficiently. The allowances of the beneficiaries or the money for their tuition fees were always late, if at all these were given. Corruption or incompetence in administration were the causes. Many students who were dependent on the program had to look for other sources of funds for them to be able to finish their courses. It even made their lives more difficult as they expected to have their money on time, only for them to have to go down to Manila (where everything was centralized) to follow up the releases of their money.
A number of beneficiaries later found out, after so many months of expectation, that their money was given to other parties. Somebody I knew back in the undergrad would go back again and again, each time coming back empty handed. At one time he was given his allowance for one semester at the end of the term.
A friend who is now a medical doctor never received his monthly allowance for a long time. Exasperated, he went to personally follow up the matter in Manila. He found out that the scholarship was transferred to the sister of his friend. Imagine that. It was his friend who was politically connected who managed to accomplish that anomaly.
How could that have happened if the administration of the program was efficient?
Another corruption of the program was spawned when politicians started dipping their fingers into the cookie jar. Congressmen and governors started pressuring the NCIP (or its predecessor agencies) officials to give them the right to choose the grantees. They then chose the children of their friends or their political leaders and supporters.
So the selection of grantees or beneficiaries was corrupted, not anymore based on the merits (poverty and intelligence) but on political connections. This is true, I think, up to now.
Now it might be easier for the grantees because the NCIP has a regional office here in Baguio City. At least they don’t have to go down to Manila.
But there is a new corruption I just learned. The grantees are not getting what is due them. This must have been going on since time immemorial. As I heard (allegedly), the powers-that-be at the NCIP have been deducting some amount from what the grantees were supposed to receive. GOD! Pati ba naman ‘yon, kinorrupt pa! How despicable.
With so many Igorots or Cordillerans already educated, such despicable act can still happen? The next question is, what are these educated Cordillerans doing about the matter?**