Sen. Bam still hopeful President Duterte signs free college bill into law

Sen. Bam Aquino is still hopeful that President Duterte will prioritize education by signing the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act into law this week, giving Filipinos free education in state universities and colleges (SUC), local universities and colleges and technical and vocational institutions (TVIs).

"The administration must prioritize education. Let's not lose hope that we will invest in the future of our youth and their families," said Sen. Bam, who pushed for the measure's passage in the Senate as principal sponsor and co-author.

"This is a policy that everyone in the Senate supported, regardless of political party. Inaasahan rin ito ng 1.6M estudyante sa SUCs, pati ng kanilang pamilya. So I am still hoping this will become law," added Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam was expecting President Duterte to announce the signing of the measure into law as highlight of his State of the Nation Address (SONA) but no mention came during the Chief Executive's two-hour speech.

There is also talk removing free tuition in SUCs from next year's national budget.

"Kung prayoridad ito ng gobyerno, popondohan ito sa national budget. Ang importante ay pirmahan na at gawing batas ang libreng kolehiyo," affirmed Sen. Bam.

As former chairman of the Committee on Education, Sen. Bam defended the bill in plenary debates and interpellation. 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: Senate of the Philippines

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