Free college law still without IRR

1-ANG Edukasyon Partylist and Deputer Majority Leader Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr.)

EDUCATION officials are in violation of the Free College Education law for their delay in releasing the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of the law, according to 1-Ang Edukasyon Party-list and House Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Salvador B. Belaro Jr.

“Strictly speaking, this lack of output can be tantamount to gross neglect of duty,” declared Belaro in a statement on Tuesday.

Belaro said it has been six months since Republic Act No. 10931 was signed into law, but Congress has not yet seen the IRR, which was supposed to have been promulgated within 60 days from the effectivity of the law.

“Last December, then CHED (Commission on Higher Education) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said during an education summit that the crafting of the IRR was completed and all that was needed to get the work done was the signing. It is now February 2018, Dr. Licuanan has resigned, CHED has an OIC in the person of CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera, but we still do not yet have an IRR for RA 10931,” said Belaro.

“The UniFAST Board is now in breach of a very specific mandate of RA 10931 to promulgate the IRR in 60 days, which should have been in October 2017,” he said.

Under Article IV of RA 10931, a UniFAST Board is created to implement the law.

The Board shall be attached to the CHED and will be composed of the CHED chairperson as ex officio chairperson; the Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as ex officio co-chairperson; the TESDA Director-General as ex officio Co-Chairperson, the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepED) as ex officio member, a representative from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as ex officio member, a representative from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as ex officio member, a representative from the National Youth Commission (NYC) as ex officio member.

Belaro said the UniFAST Board is not just the CHED chairman.

Seven agencies are represented in the Board, including the heads of CHED, DOST, TESDA, and DepED.

“Our questions now to the UniFAST Board, now headed by CHED OIC Prospero de Vera, is this: When will the Board approve the IRR? Will they continue to delay or will they do their job?” said Belaro.

The next school year is just a few months away and the IRR still has to be cascaded through the higher education system, to the SUCs and TVIs. That cascading takes time and the implementing mechanisms take time. Most of the schools open in June while some now open in August.

Free college education is a major commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the 17th Congress. Now is not the time for the UniFAST Board to neglect their duty. We expect swift action from them in the next several days or else.

p: wjg