MANILA, Philippines — Senator Bam Aquino on Tuesday urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to implement Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act for the second semester of School Year 2017-2018.
In a radio interview, Aquino, the principal sponsor of RA 10931, urged state universities and colleges (SUCs) to reimburse the tuition and miscellaneous fees they collected in the second semester of school year 2017-2018 as the free college law takes effect now.
“There were SUCs who have stopped collecting this semester. To those who had collected fees, we call on to them to refund the payments of the students and their families,” Aquino said in Filipino.
The senator said that there were some schools which continue to collect tuition and other fees from students despite some SUCs already complying with the law.
Aquino added that Filipino families need the free college law especially as prices of goods and services continue to rise up because of the enactment of the new tax reform package law.
“If we’ll help, we should not hesitate. We should extend our absolute help. Let’s implement the free tuition and miscellaneous fees,” he said.
On Monday, the Senate unanimously backed Aquino’s call for the full and immediate implementation of the free college law.
In his sponsorship speech for Senate Resolution No. 620, the opposition senator called on the Senate to support enactment of the free college law, in light of the announcement of a June 2018 implementation by CHED.
“When will our students and their families experience the financial relief of a free college education? CHED says tomorrow. But we say, yesterday! The free college should already be enacted,” Aquino said.
“The government is duty-bound to enforce the provisions of the law, which should benefit the students whose hope lies in quality, accessible and free tertiary education in order to have a suitable employment to uplift their living conditions,” the resolution read.
Aquino added that Congress agreed on the legislative intent to implement the law by November 2017 during the bicameral conference committee on Republic Act 10931.
Aquino also insisted that during the budget deliberation for the free college law, the CHED-UNIFAST confirmed to the members of the Senate that the P41 billion budget allocation was enough to cover the tuition and other fees in SUCs starting the second semester of this school year.
However, CHED officer-in-charge Popoy de Vera said that the agency plans to fully implement the law starting June 2018 for Academic Year 2018-2019 as it still in the process of finalizing the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
Aquino, in response, said that he believes CHED should no longer delay its immediate implementation as the law is already in effect and there is an approved budget to support its programs.