(Eagle News) — Senators hailed President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act that gives full tuition subsidies to state universities and colleges, local tertiary schools and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda)-accredited institutions.
“I thank PRRD (Duterte) for signing the Free Tertiary Education Act. This will be one of the lasting legacies of his presidency and administration,” Senator Francis Escudero said.
“Mission accomplished for revolutionary free tuition law,” Senator Bam Aquino, a co-author of the bill, said.
Senator Sonny Angara said that with the signing of the measure, the dream of poor students for better lives “is now increasingly within reach.”
“It’s the first administration that will have such a law and we laud the President for signing (it),” he said.
Senator Joel Villanueva said the signing of the bill was “an important milestone in ensuring that we provide sufficient support developing our human capital.”
“Our people are our greatest asset that’s why the biggest investment of the government should go to them,” he said.
For Senator Ralph Recto, by signing the measure into law, the President, the country’s “teacher in chief,” was “lecturing the nation that we should not just build, build, build for the sake of our future, but also teach, teach, teach our youth.”
“We are confident that the 2018 proposed national budget has enough budget space to accommodate the more important mandates of the new law,” he said.
He noted, however, that it would also be “wise to heed some of the reservations of the economic managers, as to the cost of fully implementing the law,” given the fact that it covers “not only SUCs” but other tertiary education institutions like local government-run colleges and tech-voc public schools.
“We should be open to a phased implementation that should begin with free tuition,” he said.
Senator Loren Legarda, an author of the law and chair of the Senate finance committee, gave the assurance the law would be funded under the 2018 budget.
Senator Nancy Binay agreed, saying senators and the Department of Budget and Management would “work hand in hand to allocate the necessary funds yearly for this law to become effective and serve our youth, the hope of our fatherland.”
Legarda also urged the Commission on Higher Education to “work on the immediate implementation of the law so that it becomes effective in the next school year.”
“Moreover, the (DBM), being the agency that crafts the budget, should be part of the committee that drafts the implementing rules and regulations of of the law,” she said.