Local universities and colleges (LUCs) will receive immediate reimbursements for the implementation of the free higher education program under the 2023 national budget, Senator Win Gatchalian assures.
The General Appropriations Act of 2023 (Republic Act No. 11936) carries a special provision that Gatchalian proposed, which seeks the immediate reimbursement of the amount required for the implementation of the free higher education program. The CHED shall validate the number of enrollees and the amount to be reimbursed.
Gatchalian proposed this special provision to ensure that qualified LUCs will benefit from the free higher education program pursuant to the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act No. 10931).
The senator, during the deliberations on the proposed 2023 national budget, has flagged Section 55 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10931, which created the condition that LUCs that do not charge tuition and other school fees before the law’s enactment cannot claim reimbursement until a policy on ‘composite fees’ is adopted.
According to the senator, this section in the IRR runs counter to the law’s intent. He added that there is no other condition in the free college education law that would disqualify any LUC from claiming reimbursement for the implementation of the free higher education program.
Gatchalian slammed the provision for being unfair as it punishes LUCs that have been implementing free higher education before the enactment of Republic Act No.10931. Using Section 55 of the free college education law’s IRR as basis, the Commission on Audit earlier flagged the reimbursement of P250,902,652.73 to three fully subsidized LUCs: Taguig City University, Valenzuela City Polytechnic College, and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela.
The free college education law exempts students enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and CHED-recognized LUCs from paying tuition and other fees.
“Titiyakin natin na sa susunod na taon, ang ating mga Local Universities at Colleges ay agarang makatatanggap ng pondo para sa pagpapatupad ng libreng kolehiyo. Dahil layunin ng batas na ito na mabigyan ng oportunidad at dekalidad na edukasyon ang ating mga kabataan, mahalagang matiyak natin na ang batas sa libreng kolehiyo ay naipatutupad nang maayos,” said Gatchalian, co-author and co-sponsor of the law.