While the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act is considered a milestone, Sen. Bam Aquino said the agency should prioritize the refund for second semester of school year 2017-18.
“Masaya tayo na mayroon nang klarong IRR para sa pagpapatupad nito sa susunod na school year. Pero kailangan pa rin ipaglaban ang refund para sa mga nagbayad ng tuition fee o miscellaneous fees noong 2nd semester,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931.
In previous interviews, CHED officer-in-charge Prospero de Vera admitted that the original intention was to implement the law in the second semester of school year 2017-18, which is actively being pushed by Sen. Bam.
The CHED OIC also mentioned that they are unable to cover the miscellaneous fees for the 2nd semester of this school year due to legal issues with the budget.
However, Sen. Bam challenged this by saying that they consulted and worked with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO) and CHED to ensure no legal impediments in using the budget to cover tuition and miscellaneous fees for the second semester 2017-2018.
“Sapat ang pondo para sa tuition at miscellaneous fees ng 2018, pati na ang kasalukuyang 2nd semester. Napag-usapan na rin ang legality noong budget deliberations. Kaya dapat lang na may refund and mga estudyante,” said Sen. Bam, the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education.
“The CHED should attend a public hearing in the Senate to justify to lawmakers, and especially students and parents, for its refusal to implement the law in the second semester of the current school year,” added Sen. Bam.
The Senate expressed its full support behind the full implementation of the free college law for the second semester of school year 2017-18, when it unanimously adopted Sen. Bam’s Resolution No. 620. However, CHED remains silent on the Senate’s move.
Sen. Bam also reminded CHED of its earlier commitment during budget deliberation for RA 10931 that the P41 billion budget for its implementation was sufficient to cover the tuition and other fees in SUCs starting second semester of 2017-18.
“Magandang CHED mismo ang magpaliwanag sa mga senador, mga magulang at mga estudyante na umaasang maipatutupad ang batas ngayong second semester,” said Sen. Bam.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bam said he will scrutinize the IRR for the free college law to ensure that the law’s original intent will be fully implemented and students will benefit from it.