A senator criticized the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for its inaction on the Senate’s call to implement Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act in the second semester of school year 2017-18, and demanded a refund for students charged with miscellaneous fees in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
“We demand that CHED immediately implement free education in our public universities and colleges and reimburse students for miscellaneous fees charged during the 2nd semester of the current academic year,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931.
“Obligasyon ng CHED na sagutin at tugunan ang resolusyon ng Senado at ipatupad ang batas na magbibigay lunas sa problema ng milyon-milyong mga estudyanteng Pilipino at kanilang mga pamilya,” added Sen. Bam.
Last February 15, the Senate unanimously adopted Sen. Bam’s Resolution No. 620, which urged the Upper Chamber to express a united front in support of the full implementation of the free college law. However, CHED has yet to act on the Senate’s move.
“Nagkaisa ang Senado na nararapat lang ipatupad ng CHED ang batas para sa libreng kolehiyo dahil epektibo na ito noon pang Agosto 2017 at may nakalaang 41 bilyong piso para rito,” said Sen. Bam
“Looks like the Senate’s call has fallen on deaf ears, because until now, we have yet to hear from CHED regarding our push for the law’s implementation in the second semester of 2017,” added Sen. Bam.
During the bicameral conference committee for RA 10931, Sen. Bam insisted that representatives from both Houses of Congress expressly agreed on the legislative intent to implement it by the second semester of 2017-18.
Furthermore, Sen. Bam said CHED assured during 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.
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.