Senators on Friday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte signing into law the free tuition policy in state universities and colleges despite opposition from his economic managers.
"I wish to thank the President for signing the free college tuition into law... Estudyante, magulang at pamilyang Pilipino ang tunay na bida ng batas na ito," Senator Bam Aquino, the principal sponsor of the law, said in a statement.
"It's the first administration that will have such a law... This is really for the students who dream of a better life which is now increasingly within reach," Senator Sonny Angara said.
"Great day for Philippine Education," Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III tweeted.
"Finally free college for all! Now there is no excuse for our youth not to go to school and be a college grad!" Senator Migz Zubiri posted on his official Facebook account.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier opposed the passage of the bill as the government cannot shoulder the supposed P100 billion budget for the program.
A Palace official said Duterte signed the law after he "considered the long-term benefits that free tuition and other fees will give to the public."
"Free tertiary education in SUCs is a very strong pillar or cornerstone of the President’s social development policy,” Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a news conference in Pasay City.
Data from the Commission on Higher Education showed an initial amount of P16 billion may be needed in funds, Guevarra said.
Senator Nancy Binay said lawmakers and budget officials must now work together to "allocate the necessary funds yearly for this law to become effective."
"The Free Tuition Act is an investment to further equip our most precious human resource - human resource," Senator JV Ejercito said in a tweet.
"Our people are our greatest asset that's why the biggest investment of our government should go to them," Senator Joel Villanueva, previous chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, said in a statement.