Properly equipped KEITECH trainees perform actual electrical installation work at the Energy Development Corporation's technical school in Kananga, Leyte. (Photo by VBP)

Pastrana Mayor refuses 49 scholarships that would give livelihood to the poor

KANANGA NEWS –– Pastrana councilmen and local community leaders here are aghast over a lost opportunity involving Energy Development Corporation scholarships intended for at least forty-nine underprivileged students from Pastrana amounting to P4.9 million.

Pastrana residents and barangay officials who recently visited the Energy Development Corporation in Kananga, Leyte were informed by its officials that at least 49 deserving underprivileged students could have availed of the corporation’s free scholarship program for Yolanda victims. However, this offer has been refused by the local government according to Kananga EDC Institute of Technology (KEITECH) officials.

KEITECH academic and job placement officers told the Visayan Business Post that the trainings prioritized involved transfer of skills on masonry, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical installation. The skills are basic services constantly needed in typhoon hit communities.

Former Pastrana Sangguniang Bayan member Arnulfo Arellano said that he obtained a copy of a communication sent by Mayor Ernesto Martillo in response to the EDC proposal for the town to send at least seven scholars to each of the program’s seven batches. In the said formal letter the mayor refused the free scholarship offer.

‘This is truly depressing’, said Arellano adding that he cannot understand how the mayor could have thought that people in Pastrana did not need the assistance.

In his letter to EDC mayor Ernesto Martillo said that there were ‘no trainee applicants’ from the different barangays in Pastrana because some of them were already enrolled at TESDA.

Ernesto Martello letter to EDC, KEITECH, Pastrana News, Leyte News
Mayor Ernesto Martillo’s letter to EDC refusing the scholarship slots being offered by EDC to Pastrana. (Photo by VBP)

‘This is an outright lie. Mayor Martillo never conducted a recruitment program for the EDC proposal. Had he done so there would have been more interested students in Pastrana than the slots offered’, Arellano said.

The town Federation of Civil Society Organization vice president Michael Plimaco told the Visayan Business Post that each of the 49 prospective trainees should have received more than a hundred thousand pesos worth of training and assistance including free transportation, food, clothing, and lodging at the vast KEITECH compound where students are trained in both theory and actual skills.

EDC officials who asked for anonymity said that they conducted a presentation of EDC’s flagship education project under its corporate social responsibility program before mayor Martillo at his own office in Pastrana’s town hall. They said that it was ‘unlikely that the benefits the scholarships being offered would not have been understood’.

The Energy Development Corporation has its largest geothermal operation in Kananga Leyte and offers industrial and economic opportunities for those who are willing under its various limited and regular Health, Education, Livelihood and Environment (HELEN) programs.

Pastrana Mayor Ernesto Martillo who is on his third and last term and two of his immediate relatives are currently facing an Ombudsman complaint for alleged dereliction of duty and corruption concerning the P10.6 million Yolanda livelihood fund.

KEITECH trainees, Pastrana News, Leyte News
Local and community leaders from Pastrana, Leyte observe actual masonry works being performed by KEITECH trainees on a recent tour of EDC’s vast complex. (Photo by VBP)