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Gatchalian’s ‘Free Higher Education Act’ gets support of national candidates from different political parties

Photo by Mark Cayabyab

Reacting to the increasing number of national candidates expressing their support for his “Free College Education Act”, Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) senatorial candidate Win Gatchalian called on the competing political parties and coalitions to adopt a common agenda supporting free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs).

“The growing clamor among key national leaders for tuition-free SUCs is an inspiring development. I challenge my fellow candidates to take our advocacy to the next level by pushing for the adoption of ‘Free Higher Education’ as a common proposal in the legislative agenda of our respective parties,” said Gatchalian, an incumbent Valenzuela City congressman.

Gatchalian, a majority member of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, filed in July last year House Bill No. 5905 known as the “Free Higher Education Act”.  He proposes in the bill a significant increase in government funding for tertiary education by establishing a full tuition subsidy for the 1.5 million students enrolled in SUCs.

“Honestly, no one paid much attention to our proposal back then,” admitted Gatchalian. His persistence in pushing for HB 5905, however, has paid off since many candidates running for national office are now supporting his free college education bill for SUCs.

Support for Gatchalian’s proposal within his own coalition — Partido Galing at Puso (PGP) — is very strong. At a recent campaign rally, PGP standard bearer and presidential frontrunner Sen​ator Grace Poe stated that both she and her running mate, Sen. Chiz Escudero, are also pushing for free tuition in SUCs.

Several prominent national candidates from different parties have also expressed support for Gatchalian’s “Free Higher Education Act”. Included in this list are: presidential aspirant Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the People’s Reform Party and h​er running mate Sen. Bong Marcos, as well as Senator Ralph Recto of the Liberal Party.

“Securing universal access to higher education is a noble goal that transcends party lines. Hopefully, we can converge around this advocacy as a point of unity, which will help us move past the often petty and messy conflicts that come with heated partisan politics,” explained Gatchalian.

With such wide support across the political spectrum, Gatchalian is increasingly confident that free college tuition will soon become a reality.

“The way things are going now, I am sure that we can make good on this campaign promise. If I win, I will re-file the ‘Free Higher Education Act’ on my first day in the Senate, and I will make sure it passes before the end of the 17th Congress,” said Gatchalian. (Monica Cantilero)