On the passage of the free tertiary education law
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) is one with the millions of Filipino students and parents in welcoming the passage into law of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education on August 4 which provides free tuition and other schools fees in public higher education institutions and government-run technical-vocational schools.
Through the tireless struggle to push for accessible and quality education at all levels, the youth and mass movement have triumphantly compelled legislators and the president to enact a free tertiary education law. This concretely shows that through collective action, the call for free education at the tertiary level is realizable and within reach.
At this junction, the CEGP calls for the immediate implementation of the free tertiary education law. We condemn Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno for yet another anti-student pronouncement to delay the implementation of the new law to academic year 2018–19, citing that the law “cannot be applied retroactively.”
This last-ditch attempt to spoil the success of the youth disregards the fact that there is a budget appropriated for the free tuition policy for 2017 and that the new law can immediately take effect after its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) are formulated.
Consequently, the Filipino youth must remain vigilant as conditionalities can be inserted into the law’s IRR which can limit access to the free education. Moreover, any move to undermine the implementation of the free tertiary education law must be actively exposed and opposed.
The youth, meanwhile, must also utilize the success as a stepping stone for the fight against the overarching neoliberal economic framework that alienates many Filipinos from their right to education. In itself, the passage of the law rejects the neoliberal policy of milking profit from students through tuition collection — a policy deeply espoused by Diokno and Duterte’s other economic advisers. As such, the collection of tuition fees in public higher education institutions must be immediately stopped; and exorbitant, dubious and redundant other school fees must be junked.
Clearly, the fight for free education continues and this victory shall only mark the youth’s intensified struggle against neoliberal policies that commercialize education.