Don’t bungle free tuition act, Duterte’s economic managers told
President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers should not spoil the implementation of the new law granting free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs), opposition senators said on Saturday.
“We hope that his economic managers would not bungle its implementation. Their cooperation is crucial to ensuring the success of this landmark law,” the Senate Minority Bloc said in a statement.
The senators said that the new law will only become a reality if the government allocates enough and accessible funding for SUCs.
On Thursday, Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) No. 10931 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which grants full government subsidy to tuition in SUCs, despite opposition from his economic managers Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Diokno, who will head the committee that will prepare the implementing rules and regulations of the new law, said on Friday that free tuition in SUCs will take effect on the first semester of school year 2018-2019.
“The law is forward looking. It cannot be applied retroactively. Hence, in the immediate term we’re talking of academic year 2018-2019—strictly speaking, the first semester of academic year 2018-2019,” Diokno explained.
The Congress will need to rehash a huge part of the proposed 2018 national budget as the Department of Budget and Management did not allocate funds for the new law, which will need around P100 billion according to Diokno’s estimate.
The law’s principal author, Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, however, estimated that the law would require about P20 to P25 billion to be implemented nationwide.
The Senate minority bloc is composed of Aquino, Senator Franklin M. Drilon as the minority leader, Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan Leila De Lima, Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and Risa Hontiveros. IDL
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