Angara, Villanueva praise passage of bill giving free tuition in SUCs
Two senators have lauded the Senate’s passage of a bill, granting free tuition for all students in state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country.
“Edukasyon para sa lahat—wala namang tututol dito dahil isa ito sa pinakamahalagang maiaalay natin sa bayan. Isa itong pamana na walang katumbas na halaga. Kaya lubos nating pinupuri ang mga kasamahan natin sa Senado sa pag-prioritize sa panukalang batas na ito,” Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, one of the authors of Senate Bill No. 1304, said in a statement on Tuesday.
READ: Bill granting free tuition in SUCs OKd in Senate
“Halos tatlong dekada na mula nang maisabatas ang free high school kaya’t napapanahon na at dapat lang naman talaga na gawin nang libre ang tuition sa kolehiyo,” said Angara, whose father, former Senator Ed Angara, is the author of the Free High School Act of 1988.
The younger senator also welcomed Senate Majority Floor Leader Ralph Recto’s amendment, expanding the coverage of the bill to cover students in public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) and technical-vocational (TVIs) pursuant to the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act.
He said the UniFAST law mandates the government to put up a system and create a body that would oversee and harmonize all student financial assistance programs for a more targeted, speedy and sustained granting of scholarship programs.
“The UniFAST law, which we principally authored, ensures that all poor and deserving students will be given the opportunity to finish college. This would allow students and their families to choose the schools they want, whether in SUCs, private HEIs or in technical-vocational schools,” said Angara, vice chairman of the Senate committee on education.
The senator noted that at present, there are approximately 4.1 million students enrolled in higher education institutions—1.9 million of them are enrolled in public schools while 2.2 million are in private schools.
Aside from tuition, Angara also stressed the need to assist poor families with the costs of dorm, fare, food, books and other miscellaneous fees.
To address this, the senator has filed Senate Bill 134 that aims to provide five-percent student discount on food, medicine, miscellaneous and other school fees, including books and school supplies, to underprivileged students in all levels throughout the country.
Senator Joel Villanueva also lauded the passage of three bills, which he said, are in line with his advocacy on labor and education.
“The two bills namely Free Higher Education for All Act and Free Internet Access in Public Places Act are the measures which I proudly co-authored knowing that these legislations support our fight for the provision of free basic social services for our countrymen,” Villanueva said in a separate statement Monday.
“Meanwhile, the passage of National Tech-Voc Day which I am privileged to author is another great news as this does not only uplift the dignity of our country’s middle-level manpower but also promotes technical and vocational education and training.”
Villanueva headed the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) before he was elected in the Senate during the last May 2016 elections.
“We wholeheartedly accept the Senate’s swift action on these measures as this will further encourage us to perform better on our mandated task and pass meaningful legislations for the benefit of every Filipino,” the neophyte senator added. RAM
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