Government may have limited resources, but the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is committed to ensure funding for Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law, which makes tuition free in the country’s over 105 state universities and colleges (SUCs)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the assurance on Sunday as he stressed that the President’s decision to sign RA 10931 in August 2017 shows how social services like education is a priority of his Administration.

“The President knew there would be challenges involved in making this law work… but I believe the President recognized then what we and generations of educators, academics, and policy makers have known for decades: only a nation with properly educated citizens can hope to aspire for greatness,” said Nograles, who was one of the guest speakers in the three-day National Student Regents and Trustees Summit organized by the Commission on Higher Education and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Board.

“If anyone has shown the political will necessary to ensure the proper implementation of this law, it is the President.”

“As far as the government’s commitment to providing resources for Republic Act 10931 is concerned, I believe the President’s decision to sign the law speaks for itself. If there is a will, there is a way––and if anyone has shown the political will necessary to ensure the proper implementation of this law, it is the President,” said Nograles.

Nograles, who was one of the co-authors of the RA 10931 and was Chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations when it was passed, explained that he and his fellow legislators were aware that sourcing funds for the law would be a challenge given government’s limited financial resources.

“At that time, I was the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, and I signed the measure well-aware that Congress would have to find the funds for the law. Did I think it would be impossible? No. Did I think it would be difficult? Yes,” said Nograles.

“But as someone intimately familiar with the workings of the budget, I knew we would be able to find the funds, if we wanted to. Ika nga, kung gusto, maraming paraan; kung ayaw, maraming dahilan.”

Nograles emphasized that government has found ways, saying that the Administration was able to secure P40 billion to fund the initiative in its first full year of implementation.

“This year the proposed budget for this is P51 billion. In the years to come, this figure should be expected to grow,”

“This year the proposed budget for this is P51 billion. In the years to come, this figure should be expected to grow, as the costs of education inevitably rise,” added the newest member of the Cabinet.

Nograles called on attendees of the summit, which include student leaders and school administrators from SUCs to work together to ensure that the free college tuition law meets its noble objectives.

“Making the free college tuition law truly work for more Filipinos is going to be a challenge for all the sectors involved. For government, the challenge is to generate revenue and find resources to fund this initiative; for school administrators, it is to ensure that these funds are used efficiently so that these are maximized; for its beneficiaries, the challenge is to work with administrators to ensure the smooth implementation of the law––and to make sure that the people’s investment in your education redounds to the benefit of you, your family, and your country.”

 

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