‘Shame campaign’ on SUCs not complying with free higher education law eyed by CHED

Published September 16, 2020, 4:00 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera doesn’t mind “shaming” State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) that have not been complying with the requirements of Republic Act (RA) No.10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

(CHED) Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III

“Yes we will do this Mr. Chair, mag-shame campaign. Para malinaw kung nasaan ang accountability. Kung galing naman ho sa Komisyon ay aaminin namin agad na nagkulang kami (We will do a shame campaign. So that it would be clear where the accountability lies. If its with the Commission, we will immediately admit our fault),” De Vera told the House Committee on Appropriations Wednesday during the panel briefing on CHED’s proposed 2021 budget.

ACT-Teachers party-List Rep. France Castro had relayed to De Vera some complaints from SUCs, particularly on their failure to get reimbursements from the implementation of RA No. 10931 in a timely manner.

Enacted in August 2017, the much-celebrated law provides for the free tuition and miscellaneous fees for college students in SUCs and LUCs. Congress appropriates funds for reimbursements based on the law to implement it.

“Napipilitan po ‘yung mga SUC na mag-layoff dahil walang mapasahod, dahil hindi ma-utilize ‘yung fund on time (The SUCs are forced to lay off workers for lack of money for salaries, since the funds are can’t be utilized on time),” she said. Castro noted one case in Region 3 in which the billings were six to eight months delayed.

“‘Yun hong reklamo ng iba that is (The complaints are) only one side of the story, to be perfectly frank. The other side is, there is a lot of non-compliance (from SUCs). The papers will not move if you don’t comply with requirements,” replied De Vera.

De Vera added that CHEd simply can’t accept incomplete reimbursement claims from these since “the Commission on Audit (COA) would come after us.”

He said that CHED had already published on newspapers the names of non-complying private schools in order to force them to comply. “Out of more than 1,000 private universities, about 600 are not doing billing documents. Nung medyo na-publish ho, lumiit from 600 naging less than 100 (After the publication, the 600 became less than 100).”

“We should do the same for SUCs and LUCs,” appropriations panel vice-chairman Makati City 2nd district Rep. Luis Campos Jr. commented. The CHEd chairman agreed.

“So I ask Congresswoman Castro for those that are complaining, please check if they have complied on time. I have the list. There are SUCs until now that have not complied with requirements for reimbursement of tuition and miscellaneous fees for the second semester which should have ended in the first part of this year. We cannot download the money if they do not comply,” De Vera said.

He said that the release of reimbursement claims in connection with the free higher education law takes only two weeks as long as the Department of Budget and Managememt (DBM) has released the funds and the education institution has completed the requirements.

“We can submit to you a copy of the SUCs that are until now non-compliant. We can submit to you documents on how fast they comply. So those that are complaining, we can check on the record if they complied early,” De Vera said.