Senators hail Duterte’s approval of free tuition in SUCs
(Updated, 1:09 p.m.) Senators on Friday expressed elation over President Rodrigo Duterte’s unexpected move of signing the bill granting free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Duterte earned praises from the senators who welcomed the development, as it came amid strong opposition from the administration’s economic managers.
Senator Bam Aquino, the principal sponsor and co-author of the law in the Senate, thanked Duterte for finally signing the bill.
“I wish to thank the President for signing the free college tuition into law. Congratulations to my fellow lawmakers and everyone who supported this policy,” Aquino said in a statement.
Senator JV Ejercito, who was also one of the principal authors of the “Free Higher Education for All” Act, also rejoiced over Duterte’s approval of the bill.
“I am very, very happy for the poor but deserving students studying in the SUCs. I would like to thank the President for signing this landmark legislation into law. This is an investment to further equip our most precious resource – the human resource,” Ejercito said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, meanwhile, said the day Duterte signed the bill is “a great day for the Philippine Educational System.”
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on education, thanked the President, saying this would be one of the “lasting legacies” of his administration.
“I thank PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) for signing the Free Tertiary Education Act! This will be one of the lasting legacies of his Presidency and Administration and will go a long way for the Filipino youth!” he said in a statement.
For her part, Senator Nancy Binay assured that along with her colleagues in the Senate and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), they will work together to allocate the necessary funds for program.
“I laud the President’s signing of The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. Thank you for the gift of free tertiary education for our youth Mr. President, especially those who are studying in our state universities and colleges,” Binay said in a statement.
“Together with my colleagues in the Senate and the DBM we will work hand-in-hand to allocate the necessary funds yearly for this law to become effective and serve our youth, the hope of our fatherland,” she said.
Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, acknowledged the fact that there will be challenges ahead in implementing all the law’s provisions.
But he said: “Congress, the Executive branch, and educational institutions should all do what they can to make it workable.”
“We thank our President and the sponsors and our co-authors of this law. It’s the first administration that will have such a law and we laud the President for signing the free college tuition bill. It is a landmark law and there will be a lot of challenges ahead in implementing all of the provisions,” he said in the statement.
Angara is the chairman of the Senate’s ways and means committee.
“This is really for the students who dream of a better life which is now increasingly within reach with the signing of the law,” Angara said.
In a statement, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said he was ecstatic over the President’s signing of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education.
Zubiri, an ally of the President, said Duterte’s approval of the bill shows that he has a heart for the poor.
“Let us thank President Rody Duterte for signing this into law. The fact that he signed this against the advice of many who wanted it to be vetoed shows he has a heart for the poor. I also see this as a marching order for us to fund this and to fully implement it as well,” he said.
“As a product of a state university, I know that even the supposed subsidized tuition in UP was already a big burden for many of my former classmates. Even now, with with the socialized tuition program of UP, many parents feel the hardship. Now, there is no excuse at all for any Filipino not to seek college education,” Zubiri said.
Minority Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to her colleagues in the Senate for crossing party lines in supporting the bill.
Hontiveros also gave credit to Sen. Aquino for ensuring “for leading the final charge to victory and ensuring the passage of this measure.”
“I also thank my fellow senators for crossing party lines in brave support of this law and the Executive branch for signing the law ahead of the 30-day period given under the Constitution before the bill lapses into a law. I eagerly await this measure’s full funding and successful implementation,” she said in a statement. IDL/KS
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