People

Duterte signs law for free tuition in SUCs - Palace official

Duterte signs law for free tuition in SUCs - Palace official

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte's decision to sign into law the free tuition act for state universities and colleges (SUCs) was welcomed at the House of Representatives although one of its authors warned the Chief Executive that this still did not "exculpate him from his wrongful acts of promoting a culture of violence, mass murder, and misogyny".

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, reacting to the passage of the bill, emphasized that it will be "prospective, not retroactive".

Other school fees however, will not be covered by the bill, Guevarra said.

"We may have to consider disallowing use of income by state colleges and universities. The victory of the people, though, is yet to be completed and we are now calling on leaders and members of Congress to immediately set a budget for the measure so that the youth and students of our country would now benefit from it", Zarate said.

Duterte signed the bill despite some reservations from his economic team.

"Free tertiary education in SUCs is a very strong pillar and cornerstone of the President's social development policy", Guevarra said.

He had rejected their arguments saying that the long-term benefits of a well-developed tertiary education will outweigh short-term budgetary challenges, according to Guevarra.

Diokno earlier said the government may not be able to shoulder the cost of granting free tuition in SUCs.

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Budget Secretary Ben Diokno has suggested to the President to veto the bill, saying the government can not afford to shoulder its P100-billion cost.

Guevarra added that the government was also expecting that both local and global sectors would help in the first few years for the effective implementation of the law.

Guevarra also addressed the estimate of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that P100 billion would be needed to implement the SUC law.

"That's manageable", he said in a chance interview. The President has already submitted the National Expenditure Program for 2018. "Certain adjustments can be made, possibly a reallocation can be done", Guevarra said.

The law will take effect 15 days after publication in a general circulation newspaper, but Guevarra cleared that it may be applied in the next enrollment period.

"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.

"As far as I know those are the only mandatory provisions of the bill for now. When the student enrolls in a state college, it does not mean he will have all of this at the same time", he said.


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