SENATORS have called on the economic managers of the Duterte administration to reconsider its stand against granting full government subsidy on tuition in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), noting that the amount needed to implement the program was nothing compared to the benefits this would bring students.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said the reason why students were enrolling in state schools was because they could not afford tuition in private institutions.
Escudero, who heads the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, noted that free tuition and other fees in SUCs cost only P14 billion, 0.3 percent of the proposed 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, during deliberations of the proposed P3.7-trillion 2018 national budget at the House of Representatives, said that the government could not afford to fund the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
The budget secretary said an estimated P100 billion was needed to fund the measure, which President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to sign.
“If the government can spend P70-billion a year for Conditional Cash Transfer, which is a dole out, why can’t we spend P28-billion for higher education? I would rather invest for higher education since this is the best way out of poverty and not through dole outs,” said Ejercito, a vice chairman of the education committee.
Ejercito, one of the authors of the Free Education for All Act, insisted that the government should treat budget for free education as an investment for the future rather than an expense.
“I urge our economic managers to reconsider their position by pushing for free SUC education so we can have a college graduate in every Filipino family,” he added.