Senator Bam Aquino wants state universities and colleges (SUCs) to refund the fees they collected from students in the second semester of school year 2017-18 with the free college law now in effect.
In a radio interview, Sen. Bam said the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) should be implementing Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act for the second semester of Academic Year 2017-18.
Sen. Bam said some SUCs have already complied with the law and stopped collecting tuition and other fees from students. However, there were some schools which continue to do so despite the law’s enactment, possibly due to lack of funds.
“Mayroon nang mga SUCs ang hindi nangolekta ngayong semester. Sa mga nangolekta na, ang gusto natin ay i-refund ang ibinayad ng mga estudyante at kanilang pamilya,” said Sen. Bam, the principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931 in the Senate.
During the interview, Sen. Bam renewed his call to CHED to fully implement RA 10931, saying Filipino families need it more than ever, especially amid the rising prices in goods and services due to the passage of the tax reform law.
“Kung tutulong tayo, huwag nang magtimpi. Lubus-lubusin na ang tulong, ipatupad na ang libreng tuition at miscellaneous fees,” stressed Sen. Bam.
On Monday, the Senate unanimously supported Sen. Bam’s push for the full and immediate implementation of RA 10931 in the second semester of school year 2017-18.
After Sen. Bam delivered a sponsorship speech for Senate Resolution No. 620 that he filed, the senators adopted it immediately.
In Senate Resolution No. 620, Sen. Bam 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 CHED.
During his sponsorship speech, Sen. Bam said that 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.
Sen. Bam also insisted 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).
Sen. Bam 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.