By Hannah Torregoza
Now that the free college education law is in effect, Senator Paolo (Bam) Aquino IV said the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and state universities and colleges (SUCs) should refund the fees they collected from students in the second semester of school year (SY) 2017-18.
Aquino said the CHED should be strictly implementing Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act for the second semester of academic year 2017-18.
The senator noted some SUCs have already complied with the law and stopped collecting tuition and other fees from students.
But there are some schools that continued to collect fees, possibly due to lack of funds.
“Mayroon nang mga SUCs ang hindi nangolekta ngayong semester. Sa mga nangolekta na, ang gusto natin ay i-refund ang ibinayad ng mga estudyante at kanilang pamilya, (Some SUCs have stopped collecting this semester. For those who have collected, we urge them to refund whatever these students and their family paid them),” said Aquino, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931 in the Senate.
Aquino, likewise, renewed his call to CHED to fully implement the law, saying Filipino families need it more than ever, especially amid the rising prices in goods and services due to the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
“Kung tutulong tayo, huwag nang magtimpi. Lubus-lubusin na ang tulong, ipatupad na ang libreng tuition at miscellaneous fees (If we are going to help, let’s go all-out. Implement the free tuition and miscellaneous fees),” stressed Sen. Bam.
The Senate, on Monday, unanimously supported Aquino’s Senate Resolution No. 620 which called for the full and immediate implementation of the free college law in the second semester of school year 2017-18.
The Senate’s commitment was contrary to the latest statement by CHED officer-in-charge Popoy de Vera that it plans to fully implement the law stating June 2018 for Academic Year 2018-19.
De Vera said CHED is still in the process of finalizing the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
But Aquino said he believes that with RA 10931 now in effect and an approved budget to support its execution, there is no reason for CHED to delay its implementation.
The lawmaker insisted that during the budget deliberation for the law, the CHED-UNIFAST declared to the members of the Senate that the P41-billion budget allocation was sufficient to cover the tuition and other fees in SUCs starting second semester of 2017-18.