Senators vow to find funds for law granting free tuition in SUCs
Senator Loren Legarda assured on Friday that the new law that institutionalizes full tuition subsidy for students of state universities and colleges (SUCs) would be funded in next year’s budget.
Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, gave this assurance shortly after a Palace official announced the signing into law of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
“In the 2017 budget, we were able to fund the free tuition in SUCs. I will also make sure that this is funded under the 2018 budget,” she said in a statement.
Legarda, co-author and co-sponsor of the measure, noted that the free tuition in SUCs is now being implemented in the current school year after she pushed for the additional P8.3 billion allocation under the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) budget.
She then urged the Ched to work on the immediate implementation of the law so that it becomes effective in the next school year.
“Moreover, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), being the agency that crafts the budget, should be part of the committee that will draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law,” the senator said.
Aside from the free tuition in SUCs, Legarda also ensured funding for universal healthcare and free irrigation for farmers during her term as Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri shared Legarda’s optimism that Congress could find ways to fund the new law.
“This is a landmark legislation that will have a lasting impact for our country’s future. Education is an excellent investment whatever the cost to government. Whether it is hundreds of billions of pesos or only P8 Billion, we will find the resources to fund it in Congress. It is my dream that in ten years, all Filipino youth will be a college graduate,” Zubiri said in a separate statement.
“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.”
“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 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,” he added.
While the expenditures for the new law was not yet provided in the proposed 2018 budget, Zubiri said, “We senators will see to it that the funds will be provided.”
He said they would target revenue sources to fund the tuition of students in 112 State Universities and Colleges (SUC), local universities and colleges (LUCs), and state-run technical- vocational schools nationwide.
“By funding tuition in LUCs and government tech-voc schools, we address the needs of students from the middle and low-income brackets. Free education is truly the great equalizer of opportunities for a better future of the youth, rich or poor,” he said. IDL
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