DBM excludes funding for free tuition law from budget cut
MANILA, Philippines —The Department of Budget and Management has decided to exempt funds for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act from among the appropriations that will not be released to augment government funds for COVID-19 response.
This was announced by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Prospero De Vera III, in an interview with dzBB Friday, as he thanked Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado for the exemption.
“Alam ko naman na si Secretary Wendel, ang puso niya ay nasa tamang lugar kaya ako ay hindi nabigla na nag-anunsyo ang DBM na hindi kasama ‘yung RA 10931. Salamat, Secretary Wendel (I know that Secretary Wendel is inclined to do the right thing so I was not shocked upon the announcement of DBM that it will exempt Republic Act No. 10931. Thank you, Secretary Wendel),” he said.
The DBM earlier announced that 35 percent of the programmed appropriations under the P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020 will no longer be released to augment the government’s budget in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which already caused the infection of over 10,000 and the death of nearly 700 individuals in the country as of Thursday.
According to De Vera, the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) under the program covers children of beneficiaries under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and students who will enter state universities and colleges and are from poor families.
He added that students forced to enroll in private universities due to the absence of state universities in their localities are also covered by the program.
Other funds for free higher education will go to state universities and colleges and local universities to reimburse tuition and miscellaneous fees of students.
“Kasi dati sila ang nangongolekta. Ang ginawa ng batas ay binabayaran na lang ng national government yung dapat na makolekta nila sa mga estudyante (Before, they are the ones collecting. What the law did is the national government is now paying what they were supposed to collect from the students),” he said.
“‘Yan yung dalawang bahagi ng free higher ed na tatamaan sana ng reduction (These are two parts of the free higher education supposed to be included in the reduction),” he added.
According to De Vera, the budget will also exclude the student financial loan assistance of the program.
Meanwhile, funds for tertiary education subsidy for private universities are already being disbursed, according to the CHED official. He said P3.6 billion of the P9 billion budget allocation for Academic Year 2019-2020 has already been released.
“‘Yung mga TES beneficiaries, tanungin ninyo na lang ho ‘yung mga private schools ninyo kung paano ninyo makukuha ‘yung inyong TES stipend (For TES beneficiaries, just ask your private schools on how you can get your TES stipends),” he said.
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