The Daily Manila Shimbun


Diokno says supplemental budget may be needed to fund free tuition fee in SUCs

August 22, 2017

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Tuesday a supplemental budget may be passed to fund the free tuition fee in state-run higher educational and vocational institutions starting next year.

Diokno told reporters in Manila the government needs Pa 50 billion budget for 2018 and P70 billion by 2021 to subsidize over a million students in state universities and colleges, local government colleges and vocational schools under the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority.

He said he will sit down with the finance committee chairs of the Senate and the House of Representatives to review the proposed 2018 budget and determine where to get the subsidy for the implementation of the free tuition fees and other miscellaneous expenses for college and vocational students.

"If it (2018 proposed budget) won't suffice, we will ask for a supplemental budget," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte submitted to Congress a proposed P3.767 trillion budget for next year during his State of the Nation Address in July, way ahead than his approval of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law in early August.

Under the law, Congress could not pass a budget, which will exceed with the one prepared by the executive branch.

There are 113 SUCs and 16 local government colleges accredited by the Commission on Higher Education covered by the new law.

Diokno said they might put a cap in the number of students in the state-run higher educational institutions.

A nationwide exam, similar to National College Entrance Examination, could be conducted by March or April next year, he said.

During the transition period, "let us not expand the student enrollment," Diokno said.

Duterte signed into law the bill, which provides for free tuition and miscellaneous fees for college students in state-run colleges and universities despite opposition of his economic managers due to lack of budget.

Diokno said they hope to finish the implementing rules and regulations within one month since the approval of the law. Celerina Monte/DMS