SENATOR Bam Aquino enjoined his colleagues to push for the full and immediate implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act at the start of the second semester of school year 2017-18.
“Let’s push for the fulfillment of the free college law and relieve our students and their family members of financial burdens,” said Aquino, the principal sponsor and co-author of the free college law, during his sponsorship speech of Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 620 that he filed recently.
In SRN 620, Aquino urged the Senate to express a united front in support of the full implementation of the free college law, in light of the announcement of a June 2018 implementation by Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
“Students in public universities and colleges have the right to demand for the implementation of the free college law. Naisabatas at may pondo na ito,” said Aquino
Representatives from both Houses of Congress expressly agreed on the legislative intent to implement it by November 2017 during the bicameral conference committee on Republic Act 10931, according to Aquino.
Aquino said that during the budget deliberation for Republic Act 10931, the CHED-UNIFAST declared to the members of the Senate that the P41 billion budget allocation was sufficient to cover the tuition and other fees in SUCs starting second semester of 2017-18.
The commitment was contrary to the latest statement by CHED officer-in-charge Popoy de Vera that it plans to fully implement the law stating June 2018 for Academic Year 2018-19, with CHED still in the process of finalizing the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“The non-issuance of IRR should not prevent the Executive faithfully executing the law. Ano pa ang hinihintay natin,” Aquino said in his resolution.
Aquino believes that with RA 10931 now in effect and an approved budget to support its execution, there’s no reason for CHED not to attend to its immediate implementation.
After his speech, the Senate unanimously adopted Aquino’s resolution.
The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, principally sponsored by Aquino, provides free tuition and miscellaneous fees to students in SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs) and TESDA-run vocational schools.
Scholarship grants and student loans will also be made available to students of both public and private college and universities.
The measure was languishing in the legislative mill for years before it was passed during Aquino’s time as chairman of the Committee on Education in the 17th Congress. This was Aquino’s 19th law in his four years as senator. p: wjg