MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday admitted that he signed the law granting free tuition in state-run universities, colleges, and technical-vocational schools while fully aware of funding concerns.
“Iyan nga ang problema, gusto ko tanungin sa inyo,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview in Malacañang.
“Ewan ko, tingnan natin. Kasi ang pag-approve ng Congress, alam naman nila walang pera. Eh pagdating sa akin alam ko man na walang pera,” he added.
The President signed Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act” despite the reluctance of some members of his economic team due to the cost that will be entailed in funding free tertiary education.
The Palace, however, said the President considered the long-term benefits that free tuition will give to the public.
It explained that since the 2018 proposed budget is now in Congress, realignments will have to be made to fund the free tuition law.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the proposed budget for some government agencies could be cut as a result of the signing of the free tuition law.
The DBM will meet on Wednesday with the Commission on Higher Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the president of the UP system, members of the House Appropriations Committee, and Senate Finance Committee to determine the budget for the free college education law.
Diokno said the law would be implemented for school year 2018 to 2019, and will cover all students of state universities and colleges, regardless of their financial standing.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said a partial implementation of the law was possible. He said the government could fund free tuition on the first year of the law's implementation, the miscellaneous fees the following year, and the subsidies on the third year. - with Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News