MANILA—A senator on Friday defended his measure to provide free tuition fees in all state universities and colleges (SUCs) following opposition from some government agencies and groups.
“Education for the youth is the best investment our government can make,” Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said Friday in response to critics of his measure.
Aquino is the principal sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1304 or the “Free Higher Education for All Act”, which is currently being tackled in the plenary.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) expressed doubt that the measure would not be sustainable since the budget is limited and that the poor had to be prioritized.
A group of economists also opposed the measure saying it would provide unfair competition to private institutions which provide better higher education and that would also benefit some high-income students.
Aquino, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, however, affirmed the government’s commitment to provide free tuition in state colleges and universities.
“If we have the money, why not invest in the future of our youth?” Aquino said.
The senator said that the Senate has already chosen his bill as one of its main priority measures in the 17th Congress.
“Too many students fail to graduate college because of financial problems. Let’s give them a chance at a better life through education,” he added.
Aquino said that if the government is willing to spend over PHP15 billion to host the ASEAN anniversary this year, it should spend roughly the same amount to make tuition free for our students in SUCs.
Along with Aquino, other authors of the measure are Senators Ralph Recto, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis Pangilinan, Sonny Angara, Loren Legarda, Leila de Lima, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Richard Gordon.
Senators Recto, Ejercito, Angara, Legarda, Villanueva, Gatchalian and Zubiri co-sponsored the measure
Providing free tuition fee in SUCs is only one of many reforms Aquino is pushing in the field of education.