The provincial government of Catanduanes is just a few years away from having a new crop of lawyers and doctors as the first set of seven beneficiaries of its scholarship program signed a five-year agreement last week at the Capitol.
Medical scholars Catherine Tolentino, Christine Sanchez, and Jirah Garcia joined Law scholars Lynrose Tabuzo, Jude Tacorda, Rochelle Molina, and Sunshine Tapiador during the brief ceremony at the Capitol lobby last July 29, 2021.
Governor Joseph C. Cua, who chairs the Scholarship Board, also signed the agreement on behalf of the provincial government.
Among those present were PBM Robert Fernandez, Provincial Legal Counsel Atty. Rizalina Tanon, Atty. Norlito Agunday, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Hazel Palmes, who are also members of the same board.
In his message, the governor expressed high hopes that the program will change the people’s mindset that only those privileged have the opportunity to become a doctor or lawyer.
“Gusto kong paunti-unting burahin ang ideyang hindi kaya ng isang mahirap na pamilya makapagpaaral ng abogasiya at medisina,” Cua stressed.
One of the Medicine scholars told her parents during her turn at the podium that they can now stop borrowing money since she is finally a scholar of the province.
“Sa aking mga magulang… tama na po ang pangungutang, iskolar na po ako ngayon,” Christine Tolentino said. “Persistence really pays off and success is always reachable if you really want it.”
Her father, retired school principal Rudy Tolentino, extended his gratitude to the provincial government and added that the scholarship gives hope to his daughter to fulfill her dream.
“Ito ay malaking kabawasan sa gastos, at napawi ang aking pangamba na hindi makapagtapos ang aking anak sapagkat tanging sa aking buwanang pension lamang kinukuha ang pang-tuition nito,” Tolentino remarked.
Implemented pursuant to Provincial Ordinance No. 015-2021 or the “Catanduanes Medicine and Law Scholarship Program Ordinance” sponsored by PBM Robert Fernandez, the scholarship program aims to establish a medical and law scholarship, and return service program to help deserving students pursue medical and law education.
According to Provincial Information Officer Nikko Franco Templonuevo, 84 individuals expressed interest during the application period from June 28 to July 7 but only 21 of them submitted the required documents, which were evaluated by the Technical Committee.
Applicants who were able to comply with the requirements were subjected to an interview either virtually or in person. After the two-day interview process was completed, the committee selected four applicants to avail of the scholarship program for law while three were chosen for medicine.
As stipulated in the ordinance, the seven scholars are entitled to at least P150,000 per year for their tuition and other school fees.
On the other hand, assistance for other expenses will also be provided, namely: allowance for prescribed books worth P20,000 per semester, P3,000 per year for clothing, monthly transportation fees worth P2,000, with an additional P4,000 annually for vacation break, and living allowances of P7,000 per month.
They will also be granted P7,000 allowance for their one-month summer internship and monthly lodging fees ranging from P7,000-P15,000.
Moreover, Medicine scholars will be provided with internship assistance worth P15,000, and an additional P15,000 for their Medical Board review fees. Meanwhile, law scholars will be given P20,000 for their Bar Exam review fees.
Mandatory Return Service Program
All scholars are required to serve under the mandatory integration into the PLGU for a period of one year for every scholarship year they availed of.
They will receive appropriate salaries including other benefits for the service they will render as stated in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the ordinance.
On the other hand, they will also serve a one-month paid internship program in the provincial local government every summer until they graduate.
However, a scholar who has availed of the medicine or law scholarship but fails or refuses to comply with the mandatory return service and integration will be mandated to pay the full cost or in staggered basis of the scholarship, including benefits and other they availed from the PLGU.
Moreover, if the Medicine scholar does not pay the costs, they could face cancellation or revocation of their license from the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) through a request from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), which could also request the lawyer’s disbarment from the Supreme Court (SC).