Killjoy: Diokno says students must wait 1 year before enjoying Duterte’s free tuition fee
After warning that government could not afford the grant of free tuition fees, Budget Secretary Ben Diokno is again laying spoilsport to thousands of “iskolar ng bayan.”
Just hours after Malacanang announced the signing of the bill that would provide free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs), Diokno announced that they would have to wait until next school year, or the first semester of academic year 2018 to 2019, before they could enjoy zero tuition fees.
“The law is forward looking. It cannot be applied retroactively. Hence in the immediate term we’re talking of academic year 2018-19,” he said in a statement.
“My immediate concern are those enrolled in the 114 SUCs. There should be no expansion in student population. The estimate has to be preceded by the number of predetermined student who are chosen, say X, on the basis of a nationwide test administered by CHED(Commission on Higher Education) . Unless we know X, we can’t give an estimate,” said Diokno who wanted the President ro veto the bill because government could not afford the subsidies that could reach P100 billion a year.
Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that Diokono might have exaggerated his estimates because he assumed that the full benefits of the free tuition bill would be implemented at the same time.
He said the CHED estimated that the government would only need P16 billion initially to subsidize free tuition and library fees, ID fees and laboratory fees in its first year.
Diokono said that he would take a direct hand in funding the law’s implementing rules and regulations.
“Of course, there will be changes in the President’s 2018 budget which has some P16 billion in various types of scholarships,” said Diokono.