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Free college education in state universities and colleges
« on: February 13, 2018, 11:45:14 AM »
REP. SALVADOR B. BELARO, JR.
1-Ang Edukasyon Party-list
Assistant Majority Leader 

UNIFAST BOARD HAS NEGLECTED TO APPROVE IRR OF FREE COLLEGE EDUCATION LAW 

Six months after the signing of RA 10931, which is the law providing for free college education in state universities and colleges and technical-vocational institutions, Congress has not yet seen the IRR or implementing rules and regulations which was supposed to have been promulgated within sixty days from the effectivity of the law.

Last December, then CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said during an education summit that the crafting of the IRR was completed and all that was needed to get the work done was the signing. It is now February 2018, Dr. Licuanan has resigned, CHED has an OIC in the person of CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera, but we still do not yet have an IRR for RA 10931.

The UniFAST Board is now in breach of a very specific mandate of RA 10931 to promulgate the IRR in 60 days, which should have been in October 2017.

Strictly speaking, this lack of output can be tantamount to gross neglect of duty. This is the composition of the UniFAST Board according to its charter:
 
ARTICLE IV: THE UNIFAST BOARD

SEC. 14. Creation of a UniFAST Board. – To carry out the purposes of this Act, there is hereby created a UniFAST Board, hereinafter referred to as the Board, which shall be attached to the CHED, composed of the following:

(a)           The CHED Chairperson as ex officio Chairperson;

(b)           The Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as ex officio Co-Chairperson;

(c)            The TESDA Director-General as ex officio Co-Chairperson;

(d)           The Secretary of the Department of Education (DepED) as ex officio member;

(e)            A representative from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as ex officio member;

(f)             A representative from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as ex officio member; and

(g)           A representative from the National Youth Commission (NYC) as ex officio member.
 
Note that the UniFAST Board is not just the CHED Chairman. Seven agencies are represented in the Board, including the heads of CHED, DOST, TESDA, and DepED.

Our questions now to the UniFAST Board, now headed by CHED OIC Prospero de Vera, is this: When will the Board approve the IRR? Will they continue to delay or will they do their job?

The next school year is just a few months away. The IRR still has to be cascaded through the higher education system, to the SUCs and TVIs. That cascading takes time and the implementing mechanisms take time. Most of the schools open in June while some now open in August.

Free college education is a major commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the 17th Congress. Now is not the time for the UniFAST Board to neglect their duty. We expect swift action from them in the next several days or else.  (END)

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Free College Education

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