Sen. Bam to CHED: Release full budget for TES program

While he welcomes the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) release of around P4.8 billion for its Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) program, Sen. Bam Aquino said the allocated budget for its full implementation should be distributed immediately to student-beneficiaries in both public and private education institutions.

“I welcome the release of the said amount as it proves the administration’s commitment to implement the program under the law,” said Sen. Bam, principal sponsor of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which he pushed during his term as chairman of the Committee on Education.

The CHED recently announced the release of P4.8 billion for the TES program under the free higher education law to students in 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) and 78 local universities and colleges (LUCs).

However, Sen. Bam stressed that the remaining P11.2 billion fund allocated for the TES in the 2018 budget should also be released immediately for the benefit of students under the program.

“Siguraduhin natin na ang buong budget na nakalaan para sa TES ay mailabas sa lalong madaling panahon, kasama na rito ang mga scholarship para sa mga estudyante ng private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs),” added Sen. Bam.

Recently, Sen. Bam convinced the CHED to issue a memorandum prohibiting state universities and colleges (SUCs) from charging mandatory fees.

During the CHED’s budget hearing, Sen. Bam informed the department that several SUCs still collect miscellaneous and other mandatory fees from students, despite the expressed prohibition under Republic Act 10931.

“Sana gawin nating New Year’s resolution ang 100 porsiyentong pagpapatupad ng libreng kolehiyo sa lahat ng state university at college. Dapat hindi na maningil ang SUC ng tuition at mandatory fees sa mga estudyante ngayong 2019,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam: Free tuition in public universities and colleges starts this semester

Students of state universities and colleges (SUCs) all over the country will enjoy the benefits of Republic Act 10931 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act earlier than expected.

In a radio interview, Sen. Bam Aquino announced that the 112 SUCs will not collect tuition fees and miscellaneous expenses from students starting this semester. Initially, the government said the law will be implemented starting the school year 2018-19.

Sen. Bam said he was informed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that no tuition fees and miscellaneous expenses will be collected from students this semester.

“Kahapon, kinumpirma ko na implemented na po ito this second semester. So lahat ng mag-e-enrol this second semester, dapat wala nang kinokolektang tuition at miscellaneous expenses,” said Sen. Bam, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931.

“Iyong mga staff natin at mga partners sa iba’t ibang lugar, tinitingnan na ang mga SUCs kung wala silang kokolektahing tuition at miscellaneous expenses,” added Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam also announced that lawmakers have allotted P40 billion in the 2018 national budget for the implementation of RA 10931 for school year 2018-19.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bam encouraged students who failed to finish their college course to inquire with SUCs if they can go back to school and finish their studies for free.

“Natutuwa kami dahil ang batas na ito ay hindi lang para sa kasalukuyang naka-enroll pero sa mga nag-drop-out dahil puwede nilang ipagpatuloy ang kanilang pag-aaral nang libre,” Sen. Bam pointed out.

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.

Bam to work for passage of free education in SUCs

Sen. Bam Aquino expressed confidence that the measure giving free education to all students in State Colleges and Universities (SUC) will be passed within a year.
“We’re quite hopeful that this will pass. Mahalaga na mabigyan ng tulong ang ating mahihirap na estudyante sa SUC. Marami sa amin ang talagang tinutulak ito,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Education, after hearing several proposals to give free tertiary education in all SUCs. 
Sen. Bam has filed Senate Bill No. 177 or the Free Higher Education for All Act giving free tuition fee to all students in SUCs.
The senator said the committee will hold several technical working groups to iron out and consolidate provisions of the different measures and come up with a version that will truly help poor students who want to finish college.
“I think we owe it to our students to go through a tedious process to refine the bill. But I’m confident that we can get this done within a year,” said Sen. Bam.
During the hearing, several sectors pushed different methods to implement the measure. Some groups want to focus on courses that student will take while others believe that it should be based on the student’s capacity to pay.
Different groups also raised the possibility of expanding the measure’s coverage by providing poor students with miscellaneous expenses, transportation expenses and living expenses, in addition to a free tuition fee.
Aside from improving access to tertiary education, Sen. Bam said he will also work to improve the quality of education in SUCs.
“Just because we’re working on this bill, hindi ibig sabihin kakalimutan na natin ang kalidad. We have to ensure quality as well as access,” said Sen. Bam.
“Kung itutulak mo ito (free tuition fee) plus magsabay ka ng intervention sa kalidad, mas gaganda ang quality ng SUCs,” he added.


Bam to PNP: Look into illegal drug problems in SUCs, public and private schools

Senator Bam Aquino called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to determine the accessibility of illegal drugs in state colleges and universities (SUCs) and public and private schools in the country.

 During the hearing of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Sen. Bam asked PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa if he has information on how prevalent illegal drugs in SUCs and private schools.

 “Gaano ho ka-available ang illegal drugs sa ating mga eskuwelahan?” Sen. Bam asked Director General Dela Rosa.

 Currently, Dela Rosa said the PNP has no data but promised Sen. Bam that he will look into the matter and provide the Senate with the needed information immediately.

 As chairman of the Committee on Education, Sen. Bam plans to conduct a separate hearing to determine the prevalence of illegal drugs in SUCs, public and private schools.

 Sen. Bam also plans to look into the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) proposal to include drug testing as a requirement for admission in colleges and universities.

 “Maganda ang layunin ng plano ngunit dapat nating timbangin ang lahat ng panig at isa-alang-alang ang karapatan ng ating mga estudyante na makakuha ng edukasyon sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas,” said Sen. Bam.

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