Seven months since Republic Act 10931 was signed by President Duterte, still no Implementing Rules and Regulations.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
(UPDATED Mar. 15, 2018) MANILA — The progressive youth groups demand the full implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017 as they stormed the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) on March 5.
They slammed Ched and the board of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act (Unifast) for not yet releasing the final draft of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) even after almost seven months after the law was enacted.
The Republic Act 10931 was signed by President Duterte on Aug. 3, 2017. The groups assert that Section 18 of the law indicates that the Unifast board, in consultation with Ched, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and other stakeholders in higher and technical education “shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations” 60 days after the law’s effectivity.
Ma. Shari Niña G. Oliquino University of the Philippines (UP) Student Regent said the final draft of the RA 10931’s implementing rules and regulation should have been presented in a meeting held by the Education Committee of the House of Representatives on March 5, however, some of the Ched and Unifast officials were not present during the meeting. They were told that the officials were in Zamboanga to disseminate information about the law. Ched Officer-in-Charge Prospero de Vera meanwhile was also not present due to illness.
In a report, de Vera committed to finish the IRR on Feb. 22.
The youth groups have been calling for the immediate implementation of the law because they have received reports from students of state universities and colleges that school administrations are still collecting tuition and other school fees despite the passage of RA 10931.
According to Section 4 of the law, all Filipino students who are enrolled or will enroll after the enactment of the law and pursuing bachelor’s degree, certificate degree or any comparable undergraduate program, shall be exempt from paying tuition and other school fees.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) reported that at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) miscellaneous fees cost around P1,500 ($28) to P6,000 ($115).
Kabataan Partylist also received reports that freshmen students of the Northwestern State University were not included in the coverage of the Free Tuition Policy. The Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University meanwhile does not collect tuition, however, miscellaneous fees ballooned to P5,000.00 ($96), the group said. Students of the Iloilo Science and Technology University reported that tuition is still reflected in their system.
On March 1, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago filed House Resolution No. 1744, a “Resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives for the immediate implementation of the provisions of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017 and refund all collected tuition and other fees for the second semester of AY 2017-2018.”
Elago said a similar resolution was also passed in the Senate and was signed by all 23 Senators.
A unity statement was also signed by around 60 student regents, trustees, council and leaders from universities nationwide, in support of free education.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author earlier reported that the Visayas State University has stopped the implementation of the free tuition. We have deleted that part of the article after the school called out Bulatlat’s attention in Twitter. The Visayas State University said they did not stop the implementation since it was first implemented in academic year 2017-2018. They added that they will expand to include other school fees next academic year 2018-2019 in accordance to Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. The school also did not change its grading system as the author earlier reported. We sincerely apologize for failing to get the side the Visayas State University.