“The web of corruption in the educational system such as the hundreds of thousands of ghost students causes widespread and extreme poverty in Mindanao. We have uncovered that this has been happening for many decades especially in rebel and terrorist-infested areas,” Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said in relation to the hearing on the Budgets of the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
“We have to change the system in the budgeting of public schools. A number of principals, supervisors and teachers have been padding the rolls of students to get a bigger budget based on fake and inflated number of students. This racket has been going on and it is to the credit of the initiative and candor of ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman that this is now exposed.”
“We have long known that solid educational system, jobs generation and wise use of public funds are crucial to solve poverty. What we discovered is that past Administrations have pretended to be blind to this racket and in effect systematically robbed the future of Mindanao and its youth.”
The ARMM has uncovered that from 2011 to 2016, corrupt school officials, teachers and their partners in the government agencies have padded their rolls with 207,884 ghost students. In 2011-2012: there were 28,153 ghost students out of 860,509 in the rolls or 18%; in 2012-13: there were 75,242 ghost students out of 785,267 in the rolls or 50%; in 2013-14, 48,066 ghost students out of 710,201 in the rolls or 32%.
Zubiri tasked the SPDA and the OPAPP to submit to the Senate Finance committee their comprehensive plans on improving the educational system in Mindanao independent of the Madrasahi system and massive technical and vocational skills training program under the Pamana program of the OPAPP.
Aside from ARMM Gov. Hataman, Zubiri also cited the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its goodwill gesture in fighting terrorists in Marawi. As to the New People’s Army, Zubiri said he is hoping that the rebels will extend goodwill if they show cooperation and sincerity to go for peace as government avoids all-out war in Mindanao.