House panel OKs modified policy on ‘no permit, no exams’ in private schools

Published September 19, 2022, 2:19 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Lawmakers are against penalizing private schools for their “no permit, no exam” policy, but agreed on Monday, Sept. 19, that students should be allowed to take the exam despite the non-payment of tuition and other school fees.

(RIO DELUVIO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Under House Bill (HB) No. 1160, or “An Act Penalizing the Imposition of a “No Permit, No Exam” Policy or Any Such Policy That Prohibits Students From Taking Their Periodic or Final Examinations Due to Unpaid Tuition and Other School Fees,” by Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel, schools will be penalized for barring students with unpaid tuition from taking their midterm or final examinations.

“The economic conditions in the Philippines remain dire and bleak; salaries and wages of parents remain stagnant while prices of basic commodities continue to rise. It is understandable that parents cannot pay tuition at the start of the school year and struggle to meet deadlines for staggered payments,” the bill’s explanatory note said.

“It has been repeatedly pointed out that the State is not doing enough to protect the Filipino’s right to quality and accessible education. Given that the State can barely ensure quality public education, it has also not sufficiently exercised its regulatory role among private schools,” the note added, citing Article XIV Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution.

The proposed measure aims to penalize school officials and employees, including deans, coordinators, advisers, professors, instructors, and other concerned individuals for imposing the “no permit, no exam” policy.

The penalties shall be a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000, and not less than P100,000 but not more than P1 million for any school administration.

But lawmakers, during a House panel hearing on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), disagreed with penalizing schools—especially private schools since public schools are covered by free tuition.

Although Baguio City Rep. Mark Go agreed that students should be allowed to take exams despite non-payment of tuition, he expressed dissent on the negativity of penalizing private schools.

“Pero pwede bang imbes na (But can it be that instead of) negative ito (this) imposing penalty, why don’t we make it more positive to allow the private universities and colleges and other institutions should allow students even if they have not paid. Di ba mas maganda ‘yun (That’s better, right)?,” he said.

Batangas 3rd District Rep. Maitet Collantes, who owns a private school, shared how they had been imposing the policy.

“So, what we do we give the exam to students but hold on to their credentials, hold on to their grades until they are able to pay,” she told the committee.

Dr. Raymundo Arcega, a resource speaker, expressed reservations on the bill’s Section 6 Paragraph B, which considers unlawful “requiring students to secure a permit to take the midterm or final examination.”

“We all belong to the same ecosystem. I would want to believe that private institutions also must be allowed to require permits and clearances not—of course, we will still allow the students but we have to give the students that sense of accountability and responsibility and so with their parents to be reminded that when their students go to a private school you know they also have the obligation to be conscious about the payables,” he explained.

He also disagreed that teachers and deans should be penalized since they are only “following instructions from top above.”

Lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, managing director of the Coordination Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), also had reservations to HB 1160 because it was “inconsistent” with the Constitution.

“First, as a matter of policy, we believe that the HB is inconsistent with the constitutional

mandate of reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions and the academic freedom of all institutions of higher learning. Reasonable supervision is not to control as stated by the Supreme Court,” he said.

“The bill also respectfully violates the non-interment clause of the Constitution and equity provision,” he added.

Manuel “duly recognized” the points raised by his colleagues and the resource speaker, saying that these were taken into consideration especially since more than 1,000 private schools have concerns about cash flow and income.

Go, for his part, assured that the committee simply wants to protect the private educational institutions and the students by trying to find a “win-win resolution.”

 
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