Education

Sen. Bam rallies Senate to support full, immediate implementation of free college

Senator Bam Aquino enjoined his colleagues to push for the full and immediate implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act at the start of the second semester of school year 2017-18.

 “Let’s push for the fulfillment of the free college law and relieve our students and their family members of financial burdens,” said Sen. Bam, the principal sponsor and co-author of the free college law, during his sponsorship speech of Senate Resolution No. 620 that he filed recently.

 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 Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

 “Students in public universities and colleges have the right to demand for the implementation of the free college law. Naisabatas at may pondo na ito,” asserted Sen. Bam.

 According to the senator, 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).

 “The non-issuance of IRR should not prevent the Executive faithfully executing the law. Ano pa ang hinihintay natin,” Sen. Bam pointed out in his resolution.

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.

After his speech, the Senate unanimously adopted Sen. Bam’s resolution.

 The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, principally sponsored by Sen. Bam, provides free tuition and miscellaneous fees to students in SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs) and TESDA-run vocational schools.

Scholarship grants and student loans will also be made available to students of both public and private college and universities.

The measure was languishing in the legislative mill for years before it was passed during Sen. Bam’s time as chairman of the Committee on Education in the 17th Congress. This was Sen. Bam’s 19th law in his four years as senator.

Sen. Bam: Execute pay hike for teachers, not just “tokhangers”

Senator Bam Aquino expressed disappointment over the government’s pronouncement that public school teachers and other government workers will have to wait until 2020 to enjoy an increase in their meager salaries, saying many of them are buried in debt amounting to P171 billion.

“If we can do it for policemen, we must also increase pay for our teachers, nurses and other government workers,” said Sen. Bam, referring to the recent salary hike given to members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Our teachers play a major role in ensuring our graduates are job-ready and poised for success. By educating our youth, teachers can influence the fate of the country,” added Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam said teachers cannot afford to wait until 2020 for an increase in salary as they are experiencing personal burdens, including debt problems.

According to Sen. Bam, the P171 billion debt of teachers from legitimate lending institutions is due to a confluence of factors, including inadequate wages, delayed salary while some use the money to cover the cost of their teaching materials.

“Tulungan naman natin ang ating mga guro, nars at iba pang government workers na mapagaan ang kanilang buhay sa pamamagitan ng dagdag na suweldo, lalo na ngayong tumataas ang presyo ng mga bilihin,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam has filed Senate Bill No. 704 or the Basic Education Teachers Pay Increase Act, which provides a P10,000 increase across the board increase to all teaching and non-teaching personnel of the country’s public school system.

Sen. Bam also filed Senate Bill No. 916 or the Comprehensive Nursing Act, and Senate Bill No. 663 or the Nurse in Every Public School bill.

Free nutritious meals for students get full support in Senate

Kindergarten and elementary schools students will soon enjoy free nutritious meals after the Senate approved on third and final reading a measure that will establish a national feeding program in public schools.

 Sen. Bam Aquino, principal sponsor and co-author of the measure, thanked his colleagues for unanimously approving Senate Bill No. 1279, otherwise known as the Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act, via an 18-0 vote.

 “Ito’y napakalaking tulong para mabigyan ng sapat na nutrisyon ang ating mga estudyante para sila’y mabusog, lumusog at lalong tumalino,” said Sen. Bam, who pushed for the measure’s passage during his term as chairman of the Committee on Education.

 Aside from addressing malnutrition among schoolchildren from kindergarten to Grade 6, the measure also aims to boost the livelihood of local farmers, where the needed supplies for the feeding program will be sourced from.

 “Kasabay ng pagtugon natin sa problema sa malnutrisyon, binibigyan din natin ng kabuhayan ang mga lokal na magsasaka. Makatutulong ang programang ito para magkaroon sila ng regular na pagkakakitaan,” said Sen. Bam.

 If enacted into law, Sen. Bam said that a National School-Feeding Program that is properly funded will be established.

 The senator added that an initial appropriation would be sourced from the initial budget allocation of Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Aside from Sen. Bam, the bill was also authored by Senators Grace Poe, Gregorio Honasan II, Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villa, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

Sen. Bam: Free college is a courtesy, not hush money

The government should not use free education to gain political loyalty or prohibit students from exercising their right to free expression and dissent, according to Sen. Bam Aquino.

 “Walang kapalit ang libreng kolehiyo. Hindi dapat nilalagyan ng pamahalaan ng limitasyon ang karapatan ng mga estudyante kapalit ng libreng edukasyon sa pampublikong unibersidad at kolehiyo,” said Sen. Bam, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

 “The free college law is a form of benefit to the Filipino people, and should not be used for blackmail or as hush money,” added Sen. Bam.

 Sen. Bam stressed that students in SUCs must not surrender their right to speak and dissent just to enjoy free education.

 “We commend the Filipino youth who continue working for a cause, speaking up and speaking out against policies that are counter to their values and beliefs,” said Sen. Bam.

Also, Sen. Bam is confident that Filipino students are responsible enough to know their limitations or if their actions are affecting their studies or not.

 “Tiwala ako na responsable na ang ating mga estudyante. Hindi nila hahayaang makaapekto ang kanilang pagpapahayag ng saloobin sa kanilang pag-aaral,” said Sen. Bam, allaying fears that protesting students are a waste of taxpayers’ money.

 The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act provides free education to students in SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs) and TESDA-run vocational schools. Aside from tuition fees, the government will shoulder miscellaneous and all other mandatory fees.

 Scholarship grants will be made available to students of both public and private college and universities. It also provides a new and improved student loan program, where students can apply for financing for other education expenses.

Also, the law allows students taking post-graduate studies to avail of the new and improved student loan program and scholarships under the law.

Sen. Bam is one of the co-authors and the sole principal sponsor of the free college law in the Senate.

 

Sen. Bam: Family expenses rising, implement free college law now

Senator Bam Aquino called out the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for its failure to fully implement the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which provides for free tuition and other miscellaneous expenses in state universities and colleges (SUCs). 

Sen. Bam, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, reminded CHED that the law became effective last August 18, 2017, and should already cover the 2nd semester of school year 2017-2018 as manifested both during the bicameral conference and the ratification of the bill in the Senate.

 In addition, CHED also committed to this to Sen. Aquino’s office during the budget deliberations. The Congress and Senate allotted P40 billion in the 2018 national budget for its implementation.

 “Mahalagang maipatupad na ang free college law sa public universities and colleges, lalo pa’t nararamdaman na ng taumbayan ang epekto ng TRAIN sa presyo ng mga bilihin,” said Sen. Bam, referring to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) that was recently enacted into law by the Duterte government. 

 “Tumataas na nga ang presyo ng bilihin, pinagbabayad pa rin ng mga eskuwelahan ang ating mahihirap na pamilya samantalang libre na dapat ang tuition, pati miscellaneous fees,” said Sen. Bam, who voted against the ratification of TRAIN. 

The law provides free education to students in SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs) and TESDA-run vocational schools.

 Aside from tuition fees, the government will shoulder miscellaneous and all other mandatory fees.

Scholarship grants will be made available to students of both public and private college and universities. It also provides a new and improved student loan program, where students can apply for financing for other education expenses.

 In addition, students taking post-graduate studies can avail of the new and improved student loan program and scholarships under the law. 

The measure was languishing in the legislative mill for years before it was passed during Sen. Bam’s time as chairman of the Committee on Education in the 17th Congress. This was Sen. Bam’s 19th law in his four years as senator.

Sen. Bam to DepEd: Ensure graduates’ employability, don’t ignore employers

Senator Bam Aquino urges the Department of Education to strengthen academic-industry linkages and make sure K-to-12 graduates are ready to enter the workforce.

 “Student readiness to enter the workforce is a serious issue that is better addressed by developing strong relationships between schools and companies, what we call academic-industry linkages,” said Sen. Bam.

“Huwag natin balewalain ang kinabukasan ng mga K-to-12 graduates. Mahalagang makonsulta ang employers at mga kinatawan ng industriya upang matiyak na handa nang magtrabaho ang K-to-12 graduates,” Sen. Bam added.

Sen. Bam issued the reaction after Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) expressed concern over the lack of minimum on-the-job training requirements among the first batch of K-to-12 students.

 The PCCI said the first batch of K-to-12 students only have 80 hours or two weeks of OJT experience, making them unqualified for available jobs.

 “The Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education should have dynamic curriculum that can address concerns of current and future employers,” said Sen. Bam.

The senator also called on concerned government agencies to come up with a process that will regularly assess education curriculum vis-a-vis necessary skills needed for jobs

As former chairman of the Senate Committee on Education in the 17th Congress, Sen. Bam filed Senate Bill No. 1278 or Trabaho Centers in Schools Act, which seeks to establish job placement offices in public high schools and state universities and colleges (SUCs).

 The measure mandates the establishment of a Trabaho Center in every public high school and SUC with main services that include: 1) Industry Matching, 2) Career Counseling, and 3) Employment Facilitation.

 Trabaho Centers should address the skills mismatch and ensure employability of students upon graduation by using feedback from employers to better develop the school’s curriculum and training programs.

  Sen. Bam is also the principal sponsor of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, making college tuition and miscellaneous fees free in public universities, colleges and TESDA-run technical-vocational institutions.

Sen. Bam on the resignation of CHED chairperson Patricia Licuanan

Higher education has lost a dependable ally with the resignation of CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan. 
 
As former chairman of the Committee on Education, we can attest to her dedication to improve access to quality education as we worked closely to pass the free college law.
 
We thank Chairperson Licuanan for her immeasurable service to Filipino students and for all her help in crafting the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
 
At the same time, we call on Malacanang to appoint an immediate replacement with the ability and the will to effectively implement this critical reform.
 
We look forward to working with yet another staunch advocate for quality education in the Philippines.

Sen. Bam: Don’t forget public schools in free WIFI rollout

Don’t forget our public schools and state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Senator Bam Aquino issued this call as the government prepares the rollout of Republic Act 10929 or the Free Internet Access Program in Public Places, which he pushed in the Senate as principal sponsor and co-author, saying Filipino students will benefit from free internet as a vital tool to further enrich their knowledge.

“Internet is an important tool in learning. Students are empowered by the internet in learning lessons, completing assignments, and research,” said Sen. Bam, principal sponsor and co-author of the measure in the Senate in his capacity as chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.

“Magagamit din ito ng ating mga guro para mapabuti ang kanilang mga sistema ng pagtuturo,” added Sen. Bam.

Republic Act 10929 provides free internet access in all national and local government offices, public schools, public transport terminals, public hospitals and public libraries.

 “This will expand internet access across public spaces in the Philippines, including public schools to aid in teaching methods and enhance learning,” the senator said.

In addition, the law contains provisions for the faster processing of permits for internet infrastructure, which is designed to fast-track the improvement in the country’s internet backbone.

As part of its mandate under the law, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is tasked to craft a plan and a timeline for the rollout of the program.

In its latest report, the DICT said it’s planning to establish 250,000 Wi-Fi access points in public places throughout the country until 2022.

During this stint as chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship in the 16th Congress, Sen. Bam spearheaded an investigation into the slow and expensive internet in the country.

The probe helped determine needed legislations to address the internet problem in the country and led to the release of a Department of Justice opinion on telco advertising.

The hearing also compelled the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to come out with guidelines on minimum internet speeds and conducted speed testing in various areas of the Philippines to check compliance of telcos.

As the current chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology, Sen. Bam is principal sponsor of the free internet reform. He also filed Senate Bill No. 171 or the Open Access in Data Transmission Act of 2016, which has yet to be passed into law to enable more players into and promote competition in the internet industry.

Principal sponsors have the responsibility of prioritizing bills in their respective committees, conducting hearings on bills assigned to their committee, defending the measures during the period of interpellation, consolidating proposals and amendments to their reforms, and leading the bicameral conference before a bill is passed into law.

Sen. Bam congratulates UNIFAST, CHED for crafting IRR on free tertiary education

We laud the Unified Student Financial Assistance for Tertiary Education (UNIFAST), led by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) with education stakeholders, for crafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, of which I am a principal sponsor and co-author in the Senate. 
 
This ensures that Filipino students will enjoy free education in state universities and colleges, CHED-accredited local universities and colleges and TESDA-accredited technical-vocational institutions. 
 
This would also give support to underprivileged students in private colleges and universities through a Tertiary Education Subsidy and a Student Loan Program.
 
CHED-UNIFAST should make sure that the intent of the law to cover the second semester of Academic Year 2017-2018 is reflected in the IRR.
 
I am hoping that the CHED will iron out this issue at the soonest possible time so our Filipino students won’t have to wait until the next school year to benefit from this landmark legislation.

Sen. Bam calls on stakeholders, leaders to unite for education reform

After the passage of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, Sen. Bam Aquino called on different education stakeholders and leaders to unite and work together for education reform to give more Filipino students a chance at a better future. 
 
“Now that we’ve passed our major reform, giving more Filipinos access to a college education through the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, we must move to strengthen the quality of education in the country,” said Sen. Bam during his speech at the 2017 Philippine Education Summit. 
 
At the event, various stakeholders including the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Deveopment Authority (TESDA) presented their accomplishments over the past year, the challenges that lay ahead and their plans to improve access to quality education in the Philippines. 
 
“Let’s work together to ensure that there is a seamless transition from student to employee or entrepreneur through strong academic-industry linkages,” added Sen. Bam. 
 
During his time as chairman of the Committee on Education in the 17th Congress, Sen. Bam worked with stakeholders in the crafting of reforms that can give more Filipinos access to quality education. 
 
While his chairmanship was a short one, Sen. Bam spearheaded the passage of one of the most important education reforms in the country –Republic Act 10931 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which he pushed in the Senate as principal sponsor and co-author. 
 
The law provides free education to students in state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges and TESDA-run vocational schools. Aside from tuition fees, the government will shoulder miscellaneous and all other mandatory fees. 
 
Scholarship grants will be made available to students of both public and private college and universities. It also provides a new and improved student loan program, where students can apply for financing for other education expenses. 
 
In addition, students taking post-graduate studies can avail of the new and improved student loan program and scholarships under the law. 
 
During his speech, Sen. Bam has given his commitment to ensure that the law will be funded and implemented properly to ensure that “every Filipino has access to quality education and better opportunities to make a living.”
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