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Senator hopes free tuition in SUCs implemented annually
« on: December 20, 2016, 04:47:51 PM »
Senator hopes free tuition in SUCs implemented annually

MANILA, Dec. 20 (PNA) -- A Senator on Tuesday expressed hope that a measure will be passed by March next year to assure that free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs) will be implemented annually.

Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV was referring to Senate Bill No. 177 or the Free Higher Education for All Act giving free tuition fee to all students in SUCs, which he authored.

Currently, PHP8.3 billion has been allocated for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) under the 2017 national budget of PHP3.35 trillion to provide students in SUCs with free tuition for next year.

However, Aquino, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, said the measure will have to be passed before it becomes an annual allocation in the national budget.

"Kaya namin gustong isabatas ito. Kasi ang budget mo, is good for one year. Definitely, malaking bagay po itong ginawa ng mga kasamahan natin sa Senate na ipasok ito for next year but gusto natin itong makita na regular and yearly (That’s why we want to turn it into a law. Because the budget is only good for one year. Definitely, this is a big achievement done by our fellow Senators for next year but we want to see this yearly)," Aquino said in a TV interview.

"Kaya tinutulak po namin iyong Free Tuition Fee in SUCs Act that we’re hoping to pass by March of next year para by June, nakalaan na rin ang mga detalye kung paano ito i-implement and for the succeeding years na rin (That’s why we are pushing for Free Tuition Fee in SUCs Act that we’re hoping to pass by March of next year so that by June, the details on how to implement it in the succeeding years will be detailed)," he added.

Aquino, however, clarified that the PHP8.3 billion allocation in the budget for free tuition in SUCs does not mean that students will be completely exempted of paying any fees.

He explained that the tuition usually accounts for 30 to 40 percent of the total cost of students but they will still have to pay miscellaneous fees depending on the degree, such as lab fees and the like.

Senate initiative

Aquino also gave credit to his colleagues for making the free tuition in SUCs next year a Senate initiative.

The PHP8.3 billion budget was initially meant for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to implement projects for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), however, senators, particularly Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Loren Legarda moved to have it transferred to CHED.

He also denied grabbing credit for the PHP8.3 billion allocation for free tuition fees in SUCs noting that “there’s a lot of credit to go around.”

"Senators Legarda and Lacson for pushing for this. Senators (Ralph) Recto, (Sherwin) Gatchalian, (Francis) Escudero and (Juan Edgardo) Angara who share this advocacy. The senators and congressmen who passed the budget on time. And of course, President (Rodrigo) Duterte, who is expected to sign the bill into law," Aquino said.

"Education is a big issue, and much like the credit that can be shared by all, we all need to do our share to make the needed reforms in education happen," he added.

The senator said that there are currently six versions of the bill which the Senate panel is consolidating. If passed, it will institutionalize yearly the allocation for free tuition fee for SUCs. (PNA)

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