Duterte signs bill granting free tuition in SUCs

Duterte signs bill granting free tuition in SUCs

The President signed the bill despite the reluctance of some members of his economic team on the proposed measure due to the cost that will be entailed in funding free tertiary education.

Going against the advice of his economic managers, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, a law providing free tuition for students of 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) on Friday, August 4.

Frequent internet users in the Philippines will soon have free access to the internet after President Rodrigo Duterte signs the national law Republic Act 10929, which is publicly known as the Free Internet Access in Public Place Act.

The measure, which makes tuition and other fees in SUCs free, was ratified by Congress in late May.

"So he weighed everything and came to the conclusion that the long-term benefits that will be derived from a well-developed tertiary education on the part of the citizenry will definitely outweigh any short-term budget challenges..." Certain adjustments can be made.

On Aug. 2, Budget Secretary Diokno declared that the government would need to raise P100 billion to implement the law.

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Duterte last month submitted to Congress a budget of 3.76 trillion Philippine pesos ($15 billion) for next year, including 145 billion pesos for the defense.

On May 30, the bicameral conference committee approved the bill granting free college education in state universities and colleges and local universities and colleges in the country, which was a reconciled version of Senate Bill 1304 and House Bill 5633 providing free tertiary education. He said the projected cost appears to be on the high side.

He said that according to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), an initial amount of PHP16 billion may be needed to fund the mandatory provisions of the law.

"That is really the principal responsibility of the Congress when they deliberate on the budget".

The Palace official explained that the law only compels the government to subsidize free tuition and other fees such as library fees, ID fees and laboratory fees among others. Aside from the national budget, he also mentioned tapping official development assistance and grants from local and worldwide donors to ensure that the law is fully implemented.

"Now as to the subsidy for related educational expenses, that is something to be processed by the UniFAST board which is supposed to have a system of priority", he said, adding that the fund and system under the UniFAST are yet to be established.

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