March 13, 2017
Despite ouster as committee head, Bam spearheads passage of free tuition in SUCs
Despite his ouster as chairman of the Committee on Education, Sen. Bam Aquino successfully spearheaded the passage of the measure providing free tuition in state colleges and universities (SUCs).
In just 8 months, the Senate has passed on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 1304 or the "Affordable Higher Education for All Act" via 18-0 vote.
"Nagpapasalamat tayo sa ating mga kasama sa Senado na sumuporta sa napakahalagang panukalang ito na makatutulong sa napakaraming pamilyang Pilipino," said Sen. Bam, the principal sponsor and co-author of Senate Bill No. 1304.
"Ito'y patunay kaya natin magtulungan sa pagsulong ng panukala at programa ng ating pamahalaan, basta't ito'y para sa kapakanan ng taumbayan," added Sen. Bam, who also defended the measure during the interpellation period.
Aside from Sen. Bam, other authors of the measure are Sens. Ralph Recto, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis Pangilinan, Sonny Angara, Loren Legarda, Leila de Lima, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Richard Gordon.
Due to heightened political climate, Sen. Bam was recently removed as chairman of the Committee on Education and as part of the supermajority. He has since assumed the position of deputy minority leader.
The lawmaker is confident that the institutionalization of free tuition in SUCs will lead to more college graduates and a brighter future for underprivileged students.
Based on data, only one of four students in SUCs will earn a degree while the rest will drop out. The number one reason for drop outs is financial issues or poverty.
At present, the senator said about 1,645,566 students are enrolled in different SUCs, where the average weighted annual tuition is P9,407. If enacted into law, said the government will shell out around P16 billion every year to subsidize tuition fees in SUCs.
The Commission on Higher Education will streamline and strengthen all Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAP), making it available to students who want to pursue higher education in private institutions, as well as subsidizing other expenses of SUC students.
Aside from the free tuition in SUCs, Sen. Bam also filed several education-related measures -- Senate Bill No. 1278 or Trabaho Centers in Schools Act and Senate Bill No 171 or the Abot Alam Bill.
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