By Wilnard Bacelonia

(File photo)

MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to look into reports of universities and colleges in Cagayan allegedly selling degrees to Chinese students for up to PHP2 million.

In a statement, Gatchalian said while he supports internationalization among higher education institutions (HEIs), allowing the proliferation of diploma mills in the country is unacceptable.

“Selling diplomas or degrees undermines our efforts to improve the quality of education in the country,” he said.

If proven true, he said CHED must impose appropriate penalties or sanctions on HEIs and their officials who condone such practices.

“We should send a clear message to our country and the world: diplomas from Philippine HEIs are not for sale,” Gatchalian said.

Senator Francis Tolentino said he was also alarmed upon hearing the report, and agreed that CHED, and even the Bureau of Immigration (BI) should look into it.

Kung talagang merong ganon, eh di i-deport natin lahat yung mga yon. I-cancel natin yung student visa nila kung meron silang student visa (If it is true, all of them should be deported. If they have student visas, those should be cancelled),” Tolentino said in a Zoom interview.

Ito ay nakakaalarma, hindi lang dun sa pagbili ng diploma, kundi yung sa dinami-dami ng lugar sa ating bansa, dun [sa Cagayan] nila napiling mag-aral (This is alarming not only because of the selling of diploma but also why they choose study in Cagayan),” he added.

Cagayan 3rd District Rep. Joseph Lara, who is pushing for the House of Representatives to investigate the matter, said in a radio interview his constituents have reported to his office that, currently, there are at least 4,600 Chinese students in one private university of the province alone.

Chester Cabalza, a security analyst and University of the Philippines professor, said in an interview with ANC that the sudden influx of Chinese students in Cagayan may also pose national security risks, considering that two of the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement sites are in the province.

He said he received information that the influx of Chinese students is also happening in other areas like Subic. (PNA)