MANILA, Aug 2 — A senator on Wednesday said that he was confident that a majority of senators would support the move to adjust the 2018 national budget to increase the allocation for free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian made this remark noting that that there was “lack of funding” for the free tuition program in the proposed budget submitted by Malacanang.
“…A college education is one of the strongest weapons a person can wield in the fight against the inter-generational evil of poverty,” Gatchalian said in a press statement.
“I urge the Duterte administration to take this maxim to heart by devoting more resources to expanding access to educational opportunities at the tertiary level,” he added.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) previously said that it has allocated a budget of PHP8.3 billion for free tuition in SUCs.
However, Gatchalian said that the allocation needed to fund the continuation of the free tuition in SUCs is PHP15 billion.
The neophyte senator said that expanding access to higher education among poor and working-class households should be one of the central pillars of the Duterte administration’s socio-economic agenda.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, for his part, expressed hope that the administration’s economic managers would reconsider their opposition on full government subsidy of tuition fee in SUCs.
“I urge our economic managers to reconsider their position by pushing for free SUC education so we can have a college graduate in every Filipino family,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito stressed that the government should treat budget for free education as an “investment for the future rather than an expense.”
“If the government can spend PHP70 billion a year for Conditional Cash Transfer, which is a dole out, why can’t we spend PHP28 billion for higher education? I would rather invest for higher education since this is the best way out of poverty and not through dole outs,” he added.
Both Senate and the House of Representatives have ratified the final version of the measure seeking free tuition in SUCs which now awaits President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.