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Sen. Gatchalian hails Senate approval of free SUC tuition bill

PASAY, Philippines – Senators ​(from left) ​Win Gatchalian​, ​Bam Aquino ​and Sonny Angara ​congratulate each other after the Senate approved Senate Bill No. 1304, otherwise known as the Affordable Higher Education for All Act, 13 March 2017.​ The bill seeks to abolish tuition fees in all state universities and colleges (SUCs). If enacted into law, Gatchalian said in a statement that the measure will benefit 93% of students in SUCs who are from working-class households. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian on Monday hailed the passage of Senate Bill No. 1304, now known as the Affordable Higher Education Act for All Act, the landmark measure that will establish a permanent full tuition subsidy for more than one million Filipino citizens enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

“I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for approving one of the most significant reforms in access to tertiary education in the history of Philippine public education. The futures of millions of underprivileged but deserving college students are looking much brighter after today,” said Gatchalian, co-sponsor of the measure.

Underscoring the measure’s pro-poor orientation, Sec. 4 provides for the prioritization of underprivileged but deserving students in the admissions processes of SUCs.

“This will ensure that the SUC system will continue to carry out its primary mission: to provide quality and accessible education to Filipinos from marginalized sectors,” Gatchalian explained, reiterating that 93% of students currently enrolled in SUCs come from working-class households that need a helping hand in shouldering the high cost of tertiary education.

Gatchalian, who currently sits as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture, has been a steadfast advocate for the free tuition policy in SUCs since his days as a congressman.

As Representative of the First District of Valenzuela City to the 16th Congress, Gatchalian filed on July 6, 2015 the original version of the bill: House Bill No. 5905, otherwise known as the Free Higher Education Act.

With passage of the Free Higher Education Act as his main campaign advocacy, Gatchalian won a seat in the Senate during the May 2016 elections and re-filed the Free Higher Education Act, this time as Senate Bill No. 198, as one of his priority measures on June 30, 2016.

SBN 1304 is the consolidation of bills filed by several senators, including SBN 198.

“SUC students have been clamoring for the establishment of a full tuition subsidy for decades now. Finally, after all of these years, the national leadership has listened to their concerns and taken decisive action to defend their right to education at the college level. This is a collective victory for those of us who believe that equitable access to education at all levels is the foundation upon which we may build a just and prosperous future for our country,” said Gatchalian.