‘Youth’s victory’: Opposition lauds Duterte for approving free tuition in SUCs
Opposition lawmakers set aside their differences with President Rodrigo Duterte and lauded the chief executive’s signing into law of the bill granting full government subsidy of the tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
In a statement Friday, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the party-list welcomed this “victory for the youth and students who have relentlessly fought for the right to free education over the years.”
But Villarin still chided the President and said Duterte’s approval of the law titled Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education does not make Duterte a role model for the youth, especially with his supposed role in promoting the culture of violence in the administration’s war on drugs.
“President Duterte’s move, however, does not make him a role model for the youth. It does not exculpate him from his wrongful acts of promoting a culture of violence, mass murder, and misogyny. The youth should continue to unmask his double-face populist posturing,” Villarin said.
Villarin, an author of the House version of the bill, expressed hope that “the future leaders of this country may also inspire courage and empathy for the poor especially in these extraordinary times. ”
For his part, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, another author of the bill, lauded Duterte for “heeding the call of the people rather than the anti-people recommendations of his neoliberal economic managers.”
Duterte’s economic managers opposed the law, saying it might cost the government P100 billion.
Zarate said the public must remain vigilant so that Congress would allot a budget for the implementation of the free tuition.
The victory of the people though is yet to be completed and we are now calling on leaders and members of Congress to immediately set a budget for the measure so that the youth and students of our country would now benefit from it,” Zarate said.
Zarate also called on the administration of SUCs to atop the collection of tuition fees.
Congress in the approved 2017 General Appropriations Act realigned the P8.3 billion allotted for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) budget to the Commission on Higher Education to provide financial aid to SUCs.
“We are also calling on the administration of state colleges and universities especially UP to now stop collecting tuition and allow their students to enrol because the funds are already allotted for that purpose,” Zarate said.
Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago said the passage of the free tuition bill to law signals an “initial victory not only for the youth today but also for future generations.”
Elago however cautioned the youth to keep vigilant for possible limitations on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law that would exclude a particular type of funding.
“We have to keep vigilant, however, on possible limits that may be inserted in the new law’s IRR. Also, Congress has to address the fact that our economic managers excluded any type of funding for this significant legislation in the 2018 proposed national budget,” Elago said.
Elago said the passage of the free tuition law should prevent SUCs from collecting tuition.
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