SANTO TOMAS, Davao del Norte (October 15, 2021)—The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) awarded institutional recognition to the Santo Tomas College of Agriculture, Sciences and Technology(STCAST)– making it a full-fledged, CHED – recognized local college owned by the Municipal Government of Santo Tomas.
The formal awarding ceremony dubbed as “Gawad Parangal”, held on October 15, 2021, at Davao del Sur Coliseum, was attended by STCAST President Dr. Diobien C. Flores, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Hazel C. Montepio and Municipal Administrator Atty. Elisa Evangelista- Lapiña.
They received the Certificate of Eligibility for the Institutional Recognition and the Certificate of Program Compliance (COPC) of the four programs, namely: Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA), Bachelor of Science in Office Administration (BSOA), Bachelor of Technical-Vocational Education (BTVTED) and Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness (BSAB) on the “Gawad Parangal” for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Davao Region on October 15, 2021 at Davao del Sur Coliseum.
No less than CHED Chairman Prospero E. De Vera III and Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) OIC Executive Director IV Atty. Ryan L. Estevez awarded the Certificate of Eligibility to STCAST President Dr. Diobien C. Flores and Municipal Administrator Atty. Elisa Evangelista- Lapiña who represented Santo Tomas Mayor Ernesto Evangelista on his behalf.
Victory, opportunities for all Tomasinos
In a statement Thursday, Mayor Ernesto Evangelista said the conferment of Institutional Recognition by CHED to STCAST is a significant victory for all Tomasinos in his administration’s bid to improve and uplift the quality of education in the municipality.
“Nalipay kita kay kining CHED Institutional Recognition para sa STCAST isa kini ka dakong kadaugan para sa tanang Tomasinos. Bunga kini sa atong pagpaningkamot ug tinguha na maplastar og sakto ug maila kini sa CHED isip usa ka legit na local college,” Evangelista said in a speech delivered during the reenactment of the award.
With STCAST now recognized by CHED, Evangelista said, this would open a lot of opportunities for the local college and its faculty members and students.
For instance, Evangelista noted that since CHED has recognized STCAST, college students are now eligible for free tuition and miscellaneous fee through the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
The STCAST students, according to Evangelista, will also be eligible for other scholarships and financial assistance from CHED such as the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), Student Loan Program and the “Tulong Dunong” Program.
“Maningkamot kita na kining mga benepisyo maangkon nato ug mahatag nato sa mga Tomasinong estudyante diha sa STCAST. Siguraduhon nato na atong ma-implement ang mga programa sa among tulunghaan pinaagi sa dekalidad na edukasyon,” Evangelista said.
CHED standards met
Municipal Administrator Atty. Elisa Evangelista- Lapiña, on the other hand, also underscored the importance of maintaining and achieving the quality standards required by CHED so that STCAST would enjoy the benefits provided under RA 10931, also known as Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act which provided free higher education in State and Local Universities and Colleges in the country.
“While atong ma-enjoy ang tanang benefits kay recognized na sa CHED ang STCAST, magpabiling hagit sa STCAST administration na ilang ma-maintain ang standards and compliance sa CHED labi na ang pag-implement sa nagkalahi-lahing course offerings. Given na gihatag sa CHED ang Institutional Recognition buot pasabot ani nahimong compliant ang STCAST sa standards na ginapangayo sa CHED,” Lapiña said.
Lapiña thanked CHED and the administration of STCAST, the municipal officials especially the Committee Chair on Education Councilor Ireneo Landasan and Richard Languido and other members of the said committee for being instrumental in implementing the major key reforms made by the Evangelista administration that led to the awarding of the Institutional Recognition to STCAST by CHED.
What went before
STCAST was founded in 2018 under the administration of former Mayor Daniel Batosalem Jr. The establishment of the local college was perceived to be a hostile takeover in a bid to cease the operation and eventually replace the extension campus of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP).
But the establishment and operation of STCAST that time was marred with irregularities. What’s more appalling was that the national government did not yet subsidize its operation like state-owned Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
Tuition refunds for USEP coeds, delayed salaries of college teachers, and the ‘flawed’ STCAST ordinance was among the issues and concerns that highlighted the major mess in STCAST’s overall operations.
All these and more prompted the Evangelista administration to take a decisive step to solve the problems in the LGU-owned STCAST since the issues were lingering and were left unresolved during the Batosalem administration.
The ordinance, STCAST structure, policies and operations were revisited through the guidance of CHED and the political will of Mayor Ernesto Evangelista to correct the many errors since the establishment of STCAST. ###