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CHED chair corrects Rappler tweet about VP scholar

MANILA, Philippines – Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education J. Prospero “Popoy” de Vera questioned a tweet from online news website Rappler on Sunday, claiming that Antonio “Tony” Esquelador Jr., a man born without legs, received a scholarship from the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo.

Rappler released photographs of 30-year-old Esquelador with the Mayon volcano as a backdrop in a tweet dated May 6, with the comment “a scholar of the VP for the previous five years.”

According to Rappler, Esquelador Jr. of Barangay Puro, Legazpi City, was walking 5 kilometers to join the Albay big send-off for Robredo on May 6.

De Vera pointed out that Esquelador was a TES recipient under Republic Act 10931, often known as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) statute.

President Rodrigo Duterte enacted RA 10931 in 2017 to assist qualified disadvantaged students and those who live and study in cities and municipalities without public universities with their studies.

“‘VP Robredo’s scholar?’ ‘Vice President’s Scholar’? “Since 2018, he has been a scholar/TES recipient of the Philippine government under the Universal Access to Quality Education law (RA 10931),” De Vera wrote on his official Facebook page.

He explained that he is a TES grantee, according to data from the CHED-Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST).

“All CHED scholars are government scholars, not politicians’ scholars,” he clarified.

According to De Vera, Esquelador is only authorized to receive one government scholarship or award each year.

“He can lose his UAQTE TES if he is receiving a scholarship or grant from another government body,” he stated.

The TES-1 covers tuition and other school fees at private higher education institutions (HEIs), whereas the TES-2 covers education-related expenses and room and board allowance.

It also provides a PHP30,000 additional subsidy to TES beneficiaries with disabilities in the TES-3A category.

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