Senators tell Duterte admin: Free SUC tuition an ‘investment’
Senators called on President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers to reconsider their opposition on full government subsidy of tuition fee in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that the government cannot afford to spend P100 billion for free tuition in SUCs.
He said the free college education bill would set back the government by a significant amount.
In a statement on Wednesday, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito stressed that the government should invest on higher education rather than on dole outs for poor families.
“If the government can spend P70 billion a year for Conditional Cash Transfer, which is a dole out, why can’t we spend P28 billion for higher education? I would rather invest for higher education since this is the best way out of poverty and not through dole outs,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito, who authored the “Free Education for All” act, said the government should treat budget for free education as an “investment for the future rather than an expense.”
“I urge our economic managers to reconsider their position by pushing for free SUC education so we can have a college graduate in every Filipino family,” he said.
Senator Win Gatchalian, meanwhile, expressed confidence that majority of the senators would support the move to make the necessary adjustments in the budget to fund the free tuition program for SUCs.
“At this point, we have the numbers to make it happen,” he said in a statement.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee for economic affairs, vowed to fight for the allocation of P15 billion for free education in the 2018 national budget as the Senate prepares to begin budget deliberations.
“The lack of funding for the free tuition program in the proposed budget submitted by Malacañang can be addressed by creating another budget insertion,” Gatchalian said.
“I have said it time and time again: a college education is one of the strongest weapons a person can wield in the fight against the inter-generational evil of poverty. I urge the Duterte administration to take this maxim to heart by devoting more resources to expanding access to educational opportunities at the tertiary level,” he added.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero also stressed that free tuition and other fees in SUCs would only cost the government P14 billion, only 0.3 percent of the proposed general appropriation for the year 2018.
“Those who enroll in SUC’s cannot afford the tuition fees in private schools. It’s a totally different market,” Escudero said in a text message.
Escudero was reacting to National Economic Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia’s opposition on the free tuition policy in SUCs, saying it would be a disadvantage on private schools. IDL
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