Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles on Wednesday said the House appropriations committee, which he chairs, has already identified the funds for the newly signed Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which provides free tuition for state universities and colleges.
“Together with the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission of Higher Education, we have achieved a breakthrough and managed to identify at least P16 billion funds that would be readily available in time for the first semester enrollment next year,” Nograles said in a statement.
The development came after the lawmaker met with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Commission on Higher Education chair Patricia Licuanan, along with other commissioners, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Secretary General Guiling Mamandiong.
Nograles said the P16 billion will be sourced from scholarships in various departments, which will be consolidated to accumulate the amount.
The scholarships will be coming from different SUCs, CHED, the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and TESDA.
Additional funds may also be carved out from underperforming and under-spending agencies, Nograles said.
“We will be consolidating all scholarship funds and spending them according to RA 10931 since this is the latest law that supersedes all other laws, and this law takes into consideration scholarships in SUCs, LUCs (local universities and colleges), TVIs (technical-vocational institutions) and even private colleges and universities,” he added.
Nograles said the implementing rules and regulations for the law may be completed within 15 days.
The CHED and TESDA should also come up with the number of students who will benefit from free tuition in order for his committee to determine the exact amount needed for the law’s full implementation.
“We still need to come up with the total number of students who will benefit from this law, taking into account that for college next school year, there will be many seniors and freshmen coming in but fewer sophomores and juniors because of the K-12 program. This final number will determine magkano ba talaga kelangan. Is P16 billion enough or not?” he said.
“What’s important right now is we know we have P16 billion and we have a source for this. If the required funding is over P16 billion, that’s when we will consider sourcing from departments and agencies that are underspending or underperforming agencies,” Nograles added. —Erwin Colcol/KBK, GMA News