PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill granting tuition-free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), boosting the image of the administration in the eyes of the people.
This despite the fact that the Duterte administration’s top economic managers, including Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, are against free tertiary education in the country’s SUCs.
Diokno had earlier said that the government may not be able to shoulder the cost of granting free tuition in SUCs.
Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Chief Executive, in signing the bill, considered the long-term benefits that the free tuition and other fees will give to the public.
Free tertiary education in state universities and colleges is a very strong pillar or cornerstone of Duterte’s social development policy, said Guevarra in talks with Palace reporters.
Guevarra explained that it’s now up to Congress -- the Senate and the House of Representatives -- to look for funding for the new legislation, adding “If there’s a will…there’s a way.”
Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, chair of the House appropriations committee, said his panel will allot the necessary funding to finance the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.”
Nograles said the historic law finally realize the people’s aspiration for a free college education.
Undoubtedly, it takes a large dose of courage for a leader, like the President of the Philippines, to say no to trusted advisers, knowing full well that one cannot be right all the time.
And in bending to the will of the people, notably the poor who comprise the bulk of the population, President Duterte is doing everything to meet the people’s mushrooming needs.
In the view of many quarters, including the poorest of the poor, democracy flourishes when the government, through concerned state offices and agencies, bows to popular outcry.