Sen. Bam: We will deliver free tuition at all costs

Sen. Bam Aquino said he, along with the other legislators, will continue to fight for the enactment of the measure providing free tuition at all costs.

"If the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act is vetoed, there are alternative actions that the legislature can undertake to ensure that our students still receive the support they need. Congress with a two-thirds vote can reconsider the veto and still pass it into law. Or we can fund this initiative on a year-to-year basis through the GAA," said Sen. Bam, principal sponsor and co-author of the measure in the Senate.

"Lastly, we can refile the measure, but this will take time," added Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam reiterated that Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Committee on Finance, has committed to fund free college education, which would need around a minimum of P25 billion. A much smaller amount than theP100 billion as earlier claimed by the economic managers.

However, Sen. Bam remained hopeful that President Duterte will still sign the bill into law. He added, 'I hope the President and his economic managers can see this as a sound investment in our future.'

In the Senate, Sen. Bam maintained that education and free tuition remains a priority. "Hahanapan natin ng paraan upang ibigay natin into para sa pamilyang Pilipino," said Sen. Bam.

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: Senate of the Philippines

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