Why focus on Charter change over free tuition law?
Senator Bam Aquino questioned the Commission on Higher Education’s move to use state universities and colleges (SUCs) to push the government’s Charter change agenda, especially when they have yet to implement the free college law.
Instead of promoting Charter change, Sen. Bam said it would be best for CHED to pour resources into refunding the tuition fees and miscellaneous fees collected by state universities and colleges (SUCs) during the second semester of academic year 2017-2018 and ensure the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
“Gawing prayoridad sana ng CHED ang pagtulong sa mga estudyante ng ating public universities and colleges. Unahin natin ang pagpapatupad ng libreng kolehiyo imbis na gumastos para sa propaganda ng Charter Change,” said Sen. Bam, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931.
Sen. Bam issued the pronouncement after CHED officer-in-charge Popoy de Vera revealed his plan to conduct a massive information drive in SUCs nationwide to help the youth fully understand Charter change.
Sen. Bam has been urging the CHED to implement the free college law in the second semester of school year 2017-18, saying that the legislative intent was to implement it by the second semester of 2017-18.
Also, Sen. Bam said the CHED itself assured the Senate during the budget deliberation for RA 10931 that the P41 billion budget for its implementation was sufficient to cover the tuition and other fees in SUCs starting second semester of 2017-18.
Last Monday, the Senate unanimously adopted Sen. Bam’s Resolution No. 620, which rallied the Upper Chamber to express a united front in support of the full implementation of the free college law.
Principally sponsored by Sen. Bam, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act provides free tuition and miscellaneous fees to students in SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs) and TESDA-run vocational schools. Under the law, students of both public and private college and universities can also apply for scholarship grants and student loans.
The measure was languishing in the legislative mill for years before it was passed during Sen. Bam’s time as chairman of the Committee on Education in the 17th Congress. This was Sen. Bam’s 19th law in his four years as senator.