Bontoc, Mountain Province – One hundred six college students received their financial assistance of P5, 000 for the 1st Semester of School Year 2020 from the Bontoc Municipal Government on February 24, 2020, at the Bontoc Municipal Capitol auditorium.

Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey encouraged the grantees to do their best in school to continuously avail of the program until they graduate. He told the grantees the importance of education in achieving one’s endeavor in life and uplifting family out of poverty.

Odsey voiced that the increase of the financial assistance from P2, 500 in the previous years to P5, 000 is the result of the harmonious relationship of the executive and legislative body, working together and giving primacy to education. He added that the financial assistance aims to augment the financial needs of deserving college students who are willing to finish their studies.

Sangguniang Bayan members Jerome Tudlong Jr. and Alsannyster Patingan seconded the pronouncement of the mayor in encouraging the students to strive for excellence in their studies. They also advised grantees to use the money they receive as payment for their unpaid tuition, boarding house rent, and the things they need in school.

It is to be noted that in 2018, the Sangguniang Bayan passed “The 2018 Revised Student Financial Assistance Ordinance of Bontoc, Mountain Province” sponsored by Sangguniang Bayan member Alsannyster F. Patingan who also chairs the Committee on Laws.

The august body supported the proposal of Patingan for the revision of the ordinance citing that despite the additional slots created in the ordinance and increase of the amount of financial assistance to P2, 500.00 per semester or P5, 000. 00 per year; there has been a noticeable drop in the number of students availing of the program and there are vacancies and non-utilization of some allotted slots per barangay.

It was also found out that the amount of financial assistance given to every student-grantee is deemed lower compared to the financial assistance provided by other agencies and offices. Thus, students prefer to apply to other agencies or institutions that offer the same financial assistance, but with a higher amount. Also, increased prices of goods and costs of living at present had diminished the value of the amount given; and the uncertainty of subjects offered each semester contributes to the student –grantee’s difficulties in maintaining the required number of units to qualify.

With this, the Sangguniang Bayan firmly believed that there is a need to make the program more responsive to the times; at the same time must be geared towards full utilization and must be taken full advantage of to maximize the chances for the attainment of the purpose of the program and not to put it into waste.

With the revised ordinance, there are 121 slots allotted for the 1st Semester of School Year 2020, but only 106 students have passed the screening. It is stipulated in the ordinance that each barangay shall be allocated a minimum of five slots with an additional of one slot per 500 population. Barangay Alab Oriente is provided with six slots; Barangay Alab Proper –six; Balili- six; Bayyo- five; Bontoc Ili -14; Caluttit –nine; Can-eo is given six slots; Dalican-7; Gonogon- six; Guina-ang with seven slots; Mainit- seven; Maligcong- six; Poblacion -11; Samoki -10; Talubin -8; and Tocucan- seven. This totaled 121 slots.

Labor Employment Officer II Jenelyn Caluza, who is also in charge of the program said that the application to avail of the financial assistance for the 2nd Semester is on-going.

Those qualified to avail of the program are college students who are enrolled in the tertiary level educational institutions within the jurisdiction of Bontoc. By extension, it may apply to tertiary educational institutions outside the jurisdiction of Bontoc for so long as they are mere extensions of educational institutions with the main office/campus being located within Bontoc.

Caluza added that interested students who want to avail of the program shall submit the following requirements: Letter of Intent; Certificate of Indigency from the Barangay; Favorable Endorsement from the Barangay certifying applicant and his/her family is indigence and residence therein; Certificate of Enrollment or other proofs of enrolment in a tertiary level educational institution, with a minimum load of 15 units except for graduating students who only have less than 15 units remaining to complete their degree; final grades in the immediately preceding regular semester or summer before the application and/or Report Card for fresh graduate from high school; and proof of registration as voter of the municipality if over eighteen years of age.

Also, the Municipal Population Development Office, in coordination with the Municipal Health Office (MHO), conducted Information Education and Communication (IEC) campaign to the student-grantees. Personnel from the MHO lectured on Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Teenage Pregnancy, and Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). // Alpine L. Killa, Bontoc –LGU

106 college students receive their financial assistance of P5, 000 for the 1st Semester of School Year 2020 from the Bontoc Municipal Government represented by Mayor Franklin Odsey, Sangguniang Bayan members Jerome Tudlong, Jr. and Alsannyster Patingan on February 24, 2020, at the Bontoc Municipal Capitol auditorium. // Alpine L. Killa, Bontoc –LGU