Commission on Higher Education chairperson J. Prospero “Popoy” de Vera on Sunday questioned a tweet made by online news website Rappler claiming that Antonio “Tony” Esquelador Jr., a man born without legs, received a scholarship from the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo.
In a tweet dated May 6, Rappler shared photos of 30-year-old Esquelador with the Mayon volcano as backdrop and described him as “a scholar of the VP for the last five years” in its caption.
Rappler said Esquelador Jr. of Barangay Puro, Legazpi City, was making his way through 5 kilometers to join the May 6 Albay grand send-off for Robredo.
De Vera pointed out that Esquelador was actually a Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) beneficiary under Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) law.
RA 10931, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017, helps qualified disadvantaged students and those residing and studying in cities and municipalities without public universities to support their studies.
“‘Scholar of VP Robredo’? ‘Scholar of the VP’? He is a scholar/TES grantee of the Philippine government since 2018 under the Universal Access to Quality Education law (RA 10931),” De Vera said in his official Facebook account.
He explained that records from the CHED-Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) show that he is a TES grantee.
“All scholars under CHED programs are government scholars, not scholars of politicians,” he added.
De Vera said Esquelador is only allowed by law to enjoy one scholarship or grant from a government agency.
“If indeed he is enjoying a scholarship or grant from another government agency, he can lose his UAQTE TES,” he said.
The TES-1 covers the tuition and other school fees in private higher education institutions (HEIs) while TES-2 is for education-related expenses and allowance for room and board costs.
It also offers an additional subsidy worth PHP30,000 to TES beneficiaries with disabilities, which is the TES-3A category.
Source: Philippines News Agency