By Ellson Quismorio
The House of Representatives (HOR) has gathered enough funds for the full implementation of Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, Rep. Karlo Nograles bared Thursday.
“I’m happy to announce we’ve found P40 billion to finance the free higher education [law] for 2018,” Nograles, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, told reporters in a press conference.
Nograles said that the amount will “cover for everything” that’s provided for in the celebrated law, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed last month.
“That will cover the amount needed for 2018. So that’s free tuition and miscellaneous expenses for all SUCs, including UP to LUCs that are accredited by CHED, and it will cover the free technical-vocational education in tech-voc institutions under TESDA,” Nograles said.
“This will also cover the tertiary education subsidy which may be used for SUCs and private [universities and colleges], and the student loan program,” noted Nograles.
Covered by the law are students coming from the country’s 114 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), 16 Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) accredited by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and 122 Technical-Vocational Institutions (TVIs) under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The visibly elated Nograles explained how the P40 billion target was creatively achieved within the limitations of the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018 as embodied in House Bill (HB) No. 6215. Nograles is the main sponsor of the measure, also known as the 2018 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
“We got P30 billion from the Department of Education (DepEd) for their school building program particularly those with problems on their no buildable space, no vacant lot…we were able to carve out P30 billion from that budget.
“The rest: from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), there are two projects there in the detailed engineering planning…it’s an ODA (Official Development Assistance) project, it is the EDSA BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) project and the Quezon Avenue BRT project. So both of them combined [and] we were able to get P3 billion to add to the free higher education [fund],” Nograles said.
Apart from that, HOR was able to raise P6 billion from various scholarship programs embedded in the SUCs and CHED.
“We also had various reductions in the projects of the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) for ICT systems and infrastructure. So all in all, we were able to raise P40 billion,” Nograles said.