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Sen. Bam: Senate will ensure free tuition in SUCs is funded

Sen. Bam Aquino assured that the Senate will find ways to fund the P25 billion needed to implement the free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs) even if the measure is vetoed by President Duterte.

"Nag-commit na si Sen. Loren Legarda, ang chairperson ng Committee on Finance, na hahanapan ito ng pondo para sa 2018 budget para sa batas na ito. Hindi natin poproblemahin ito para sa 2018 budget dahil hahanapan natin ang pondo," the senator explained.

Sen. Bam Aquino also clarified that the free college education will need a budget of P25 billion and not P100 billion as claimed by a Malacanang official.

"Iyong numero na binibigay ng Department of Budget and Management (DBM), masyado pong malaki iyon," Sen. Bam said in a radio interview. "Sa amin sa Senado, ang computation namin na kailangan sa batas na ito ay P25 billion."

Amid speculations that President Duterte will veto the measure, Sen. Bam remains optimistic that the Chief Executive will sign it into law. "Naniniwala ako na pipirmahan ni Pangulong Duterte ang panukalang ito. Kung priority mo ang edukasyon, popondohan mo ito," said Sen. Bam.

The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act will automatically lapse into law on August 5 if not vetoed by the Chief Executive.

As principal sponsor and co-author, Sen. Bam defended the bill in plenary debates and interpellation during his stint as chairman of the Committee on Education. He also stood as co-chairman of the Senate delegation to the bicameral conference committee, together with new Committee on Education chairman Sen. Francis Escudero and members Sens. Sherwin Gatchalian and Ralph Recto. If passed into law, students will start to enjoy free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs) and vocational schools under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) starting the second semester of school year 2017-18. Aside from tuition fees, the government will also shoulder miscellaneous and other fees.

Under the law, scholarship grants will also be made available to students of both public and private college and universities. It also provides a loan program, where students can apply for financing for other education expenses.

Source: House of Representatives

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