ALREADY with an approved budget the free college law should be fully implemented without delay, senators chorused yesterday.
The Senate on Monday unanimously supported Sen. Paolo Benigno Bam Aquino’s Senate Resolution no 620 which called for the full and immediate implementation of the free college law in the second semester of school year 2017-2018.
Aquino said that with RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA) now in effect and with an approved budget to support its execution, there is no reason for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to delay its implementation even as he urged the need to refund the fees collected from students in the second semester.
Aquino urged CHED to supervise and monitor the strict enforcement of the law noting that some SUCS have already complied with it by not collecting tuition and other fees from their students while some schools continued to collect fees due to lack of funds.
“Dapat yung tulong natin itodo na dahil napakalaking bigat sa bulsa ang TRAIN at makatututlong sa maraming mag-aaral at sa kanilang magulang ang agarang implementasyon nito,”said Aquino.
Aquino insisted that during the budget deliberation for the law, the CHED-UNIFAST told the members of the Senate that the P41 billion budget allocation was sufficient to cover the tuition and other fees in State University and Colleges(SUC) starting second semester of 2017-2018.
“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 and uplift their living conditions,” the resolution said.
Apart from Aquino, the resolution was co-authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, as well as Senators Nancy Binay, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Francis Escudero, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Risa Hontiveros, Loren Legarda, Manny Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Antonio Trillanes IV, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The law signed by President Duterte on August 3, 2017 is now in effect and could support the program of free tuition for college students if implemented without delay.