IRR on free tuition in SUCs out in 15 days

MANILA-- The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the law granting free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs) will be released in 15 days, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Monday.

We intend to issue the IRR in 15 days, the law says 60 days, Diokno told reporters after the first Senate hearing on the proposed 2018 national budget of PHP3.767 trillion.The proposed 2018 national budget is 12.4 percent higher than the PHP3.35 trillion budget for 2017 and represents 21.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The proposed 2018 national budget is 12.4 percent higher than the PHP3.35 trillion budget for 2017 and represents 21.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

On August 4, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into a law the measure seeking to provide free tuition in SUCs, state-run technical vocation institutions, and local universities and colleges.

The President's move is against Diokno's advice to veto the law as the government may not afford to grant free tuition in SUCs, which could run to about PHP100 billion annually if the bill becomes a law.

That's our initial estimate based on 1.7 million students, Diokno said. However, he noted the agency will determine the correct number by Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said that Diokno, instead, recommended the full implementation of the UniFAST law which mandates the government to put up a system and create a body that would oversee and harmonize all student financial assistance programs for a more sustained granting of scholarship programs.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, said the Senate will be proposing a phased process of two to three years to fund the free tuition in SUCs law.

This means we'll fund the most important which is tuition fee, then maybe on the second year we can fund the miscellaneous fees and the third year maybe we can fund the subsidies, Gatchalian told reporters in an interview.

He said that because it was not stated in the law how much the funds will be, they will give the Executive Department the flexibility which to fund first.

Source: Philippine News Agency