THE Senate may be able to pass two more bills and a resolution concurring with accession to the Paris Agreement on third and final reading before Congress adjourns next week for a two-month summer break.
According to Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Senate Bill (HB) 1304 or the Free Higher Education for All Act, which seeks to provide free tuition in state colleges and universities (SUCs), has already been approved on second reading last March 7 and is set for final reading on March 13.
Aquino, an author of the bill, on Friday said institutionalizing free tuition in the SUCs will lead to more college graduates.
According to him, only one of four students in the SUCs will earn a degree while the rest will drop out because of poverty.
At present, the senator said, 1,645,566 students are enrolled in different SUCs, where the average weighted annual tuition is P9,407.
If HB 1304 is enacted, the government will shell out around P16 billion every year to subsidize tuition in the SUCs.
The Senate last Tuesday passed on second reading SB 1277 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.
Aquino, chairman of the Senate committees on education and on science and technology, said free Internet access will be provided to all national and local government offices, public schools, public transport terminals, public hospitals and public libraries.
“It is imperative that we institutionalize this very important platform to improve access to quality Internet in the Philippines, especially when only 52.6 percent of Filipinos have Internet access,” the senator noted.
Under the measure, the Department of Information and Communications Technology will be mandated to craft a plan and a timeline for the rollout of this program.
It will also take the lead in coordinating with local government units to ensure the on-ground implementation of the program.
Meanwhile, the Senate will also approve on third reading the resolution concurring with the accession to the Paris Agreement that will allow the Philippines to access funds that will help the country adapt to the impact of climate change.
Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman the sub-committee on the Paris Agreement under the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the Paris Agreement would be beneficial to a vulnerable developing nation like the Philippines.
“The Paris Agreement establishes the obligation of all parties to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The agreement is governed by voluntary mitigation contributions and transparent processes that will ensure continued collective progress toward meeting the ambitious global goal,” Legarda explained.
Ratification will send a strong signal about the country’s “continuing commitment to work with the rest of the world in ensuring the survival of this generation and the generations to come, and the ability of the Earth to sustain life.”
Congress will adjourn on March 17 and will resume on May 2 for a month-long session before it adjourns sine die on June 2, officially ending the first regular session of the 17th Congress.