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Free Education? Not So Fast Mr. President

Free Education? Not So Fast Mr. President
UP Diliman students jump for joy after the free tuition bill was signed into law. Photo: INQ—Niño Jesus Orbeta

hilippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill that grants free tuition to students in state-run colleges and universities. Called the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017, the new law, Republic Act (RA) No. 10931, left it to lawmakers and government executives to figure out a way to fund it, for the 2018-2019 school year.

While the new law has received widespread acclaim from students and the public in general, there were those who cautioned against it such as: Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Signing this bill into law might just be Duterte playing to his base. After all, who is against college education for everyone? He may have seen it as a way to enshrine his legacy as the president who cared most about the youth. And in addition, should Duterte later decide to remain in power beyond his six-year term, he can point to this law as evidence that he has only the country’s best interest at heart.

Duterte, who appears to be a shoot-from-the-hip type of person should have listened to his economic advisers and worked with congress to improve the bill to make it more cost effective and help only those who really need the help. As the bill he signed in to law last Thursday stands, all students enrolled in state-run colleges and universities will receive a free education. However, many students enrolled in the University of the Philippines (UP) for example, are not poor or needy. Many graduated from elite private high schools that charge exorbitant tuition fees. Those students will also now benefit from “Juan dela Cruz” paying for their entire tuition—even while other important government programs suffer from lack of funds.

And if this new and expensive law is improperly managed, it can even do more harm than good. Duterte should have taken his cue from Henry Sy’s SM scholarship program which provides college scholarships only to students who graduate from a public high school, because those are the students who truly need the public’s help in completing their tertiary or college education.

So we’ll see where this all takes us. As many of our regular readers know by now, we are no fans of President Duterte. We see him as a manipulative, vengeful, and uncouth individual—a mini “Donald-Trump” of the Philippines if you will. But we wish him success here, and hope that he can first fix and then implement this law properly and fairly. We must all remember that a country’s greatest asset is its youth. So good luck Mr. President…we’ll be closely watching you on this one. Published 8/5/2017


Why Is There No July 12 Philippine National Sovereignty Day Celebration

President Rodrigo Duterte won the most votes among US overseas Filipino voters in the May 2016 elections partly due to his strong showing in The Filipino Channel (TFC) special town hall forum on the Philippine elections held on May 1, 2016 and presented to a TV audience of 250,000 cable subscribers. At this town hall forum, representatives from all the presidential candidates passionately presented their candidates' views on a variety of topics and were cheered on by their supporters dressed festively in the political colors of their candidates ..." Published 7/21/2017


Ex-President Aquino’s Dilemma Could Be President Duterte’s As Well

Philippine Ombudswoman Conchita Carpio-Morales just filed criminal charges against former president Benigno Aquino III for the blotched military operation commonly known as the Mamasapano Massacre. Former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima and former Director Getulio Napeñas of the Special Action Force (SAF) were likewise charged along with Aquino. The three headed the 2015 police operation codenamed Oplan Exodus where 44 SAF police officers were killed by the combined rebel forces ..." Published 7/15/2017


Chinese Missiles and Fighter Jets Soon Based at Panganiban Reef Just West of Palawan

In According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a Washington-based think tank, and a part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), China has upgraded its facilities in Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), Fiery Cross Reef, and Subi Reef. According to the June 19, 2017 AMTI report, China is continually “expanding its already substantial communications and radar capabilities on the artificial islands. A very large antennae array is being installed on a small outpost at the southern side of Mischief Reef ..." Published 7/4/2017


President Rodrigo Duterte Can Still Do the Right Thing

In a recent article in Asia Times, William Pesek a Tokyo-based journalist and former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg noted that President Rodrigo Duterte might be “shooting the 100 million-person (Philippine) nation in the proverbial foot?” with his bloody war on drugs, instead of continuing to improve the economy he inherited from former President Benigno Aquino—“an economy on the ascendancy – from weak link to investment-grade growth star in just six years” ... Published 6/25/2017


Why Xi Jinping Threatened War If the Philippines Drills for Oil

Though nothing Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has said or will say carries any shock value anymore, his surprising announcement on May 19 caused seismic tremors. At a Manila press conference on that day, Pres. Duterte disclosed that while attending the “One Belt, One Road” summit in Beijing on May 15, Chinese Premier China Xi Jinping warned him that there would be war if the Philippines tried to enforce a United Nations arbitration ruling and drill for oil in the West Philippine Sea ... Published 6/15/2017


Philippine Congressman warns of Duterte dictatorship, pleads for Congress to convene

Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat has expressed serious concern that President Rodrigo Duterte is dangerously close to becoming a dictator and it may just happen without Congress doing its constitutional role to be a check against abuses by any other equal branch of government ... Published 6/1/2017


Martial Law in the Philippine South

While on a state visit to Russia, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao in response to a string of attacks by a band of terrorists known as the Maute group. During a press conference on his arrival back in Manila, Duterte mentioned the killing and decapitation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief of Malabang, as well as arson and fighting in the streets of Marawi ... Published 5/25/2017


ATM Statement on Social Justice and Environmental Protection

Secretary Dominguez stated recently that the mining industry requires good governance and transparency to ensure that it contributes to development. We agree. That is why closing and suspending those mines that violated the Mining Act (RA 7942) and other environmental laws were necessary. Our alliance sincerely believes that the results of the Mining Audit were credible ... Published 5/20/2017


UN Human Rights Council and 45 Countries Tell Duterte to Stop the Killings

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte received a stunning rebuke from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in its just released draft report on the Philippines. Duterte’s war on drugs and the alleged extra-judicial killing of thousands of Filipinos appears to be widely condemned by the international community ... Published 5/12/2017


Why San Francisco Is a Sanctuary City

I am a proud San Franciscan with the honor of being the first Filipino elected to public office in my city serving four terms in the San Francisco Community College Board from 1992 through 2008. City College of San Francisco has a Filipino student population of 3,800 in our main Ocean campus of 38,000 students. In my last term, we had a total population of 110,000 students in our 10 San Francisco campuses, the largest community college in California ... Published 5/6/2017


Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat Calls for Investigation of Secret Police Jail Cells

Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat is set to file a resolution urging the Lower House to immediately conduct an investigation into the alleged secret police cell in a Manila station where drug suspects are allegedly held until they cough up money ... Published 4/29/2017


Something for Filipinos to Ponder This Earth Day

As people celebrated earth Day all across the planet, Filipinos need to take pause and start championing our planet’s welfare in earnest. The Philippines once had an abundance of natural resources: lush forests, crystal-clear rivers and streams, and all manner of flora and fauna ... Published 4/22/2017


Senator Leila Delima’s Travail, Presages Dark Days Ahead for the Philippines

Since Did she really break the law? Or are the trials and tribulations she is undergoing, a prelude of how President Rodrigo Duterte intends to deal with those who oppose him: first, malign them in the public’s eye, then throw them in jail on trumped-up charges ... Published 4/18/2017


Choosing Between the United States and China

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office, he seems to have made it his personal mission to steer the country away from the United States and towards China. And while generations of Filipinos have seen their country as one of America’s staunchest allies in the region, many have followed the president and now look to China as the Philippines’ new “best friend” ... Published 4/9/2017


Will the Communist-led Insurrection in the Philippines Finally Come to an End?

The On April 5, 2017, the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) signed an interim agreement that could eventually lead to a cessation of hostilities between the Communist rebel group and the Philippine Army ... Published 4/5/2017


Read more articles from our archives

Butuan RTC judge killed by motorcycle tandem-riding hit man
Cagayan de Oro City – Butuan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 4 judge Godofredo Abul Jr. died while his wife was wounded after a still-unidentified motorcycle riding gunman opened fire at their vehicle ...

Philippine plan to hunt oil in WPS dependent on compliance with Constitution
MANILA, Aug 5 -- The Philippine government said the plan to conduct joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea would really depend if the endeavor is worth pursuing, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday.

Rody calls PNoy stupid after reckless remark
President Rodrigo Duterte took potshots at his predecessor’s ‘careless’ remarks and branded him as “stupid” for claiming that there has been no progress in the current administration’s war on illegal drugs.

ASEAN foreign ministers endorse code of conduct (COC) framework on South China Sea
MANILA, Aug. 5 -- Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday formally endorsed the framework of the code of conduct (COC) to address disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea for eventual adoption by the regional grouping and China.

What was wrong with Anderson’s ‘imbecile’ remark? NOTHING
On June 14, 2017, InterAksyon reported how Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez lambasted three Court of Appeals magistrates over their order requiring an explanation for the detention of six Ilocos Norte local executives at the House of Representative.

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