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Senators: Duterte may veto bill giving free education to SUCs

There’s a 50-50 chance that President Rodrigo Duterte will veto the approved bill that seeks to give free college education in state universities and colleges (SUCs) as well as in local colleges this school year.

This was the sense of some senators who attended a meeting with Mr. Duterte in Malacañang on Tuesday along with his economic managers, particularly Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who pushed for the presidential veto.

The bill has been awaiting since May the President’s signature to become law.

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who was at the Palace meeting, remained hopeful that Mr. Duterte would approve the proposed Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

It would lapse into law on Aug. 13 if unsigned by Mr. Duterte.

‘Danger’ of veto

Drilon was invited to the meeting along with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto and Senators Panfilo Lacson, Sonny Angara, Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon and Gregorio  Honasan.

Also present were House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Finance Secretary Carlos  Dominguez.

Sotto said there was a “danger” that the bill would be vetoed by the President, while Angara said there was a 50-50 chance of a presidential veto.

Budget

“The President just listened to all the arguments and he will decide on it,” Drilon said.

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“I am sure he will consider the views of the senators and the opposition of Secretary Diokno,” he added.

Drilon said the “principal bone of contention” was the budget for the measure, which senators placed at P20 billion to 25 billion.

On top of that was the P8.5 billion that was allocated for SUCs for that purpose in the 2017 national budget.

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TAGS: 2018 national budget, Benjamin Diokno, Franklin Drilon, free education, SUCs
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