Duterte signs law granting free public tertiary education
MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law granting tuition-free education in all state universities, a cabinet official said yesterday, setting aside the advice of his economic managers to reject the measure.
Senior deputy executive secretary Menardo Guevarra said Duterte believed the benefits of the law outweighed the potential short-term budgetary challenges.
Duterte’s economic managers said the government would not be able to afford the cost of free tuition, estimated at 100 billion pesos (RM23 billion) a year, adding that tuition-free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs) would not benefit the poor as only 12 per cent of SUCs’ students belong to low-income families.
“Free tertiary education in SUCs is a strong pillar or cornerstone of the president’s social development policy,” Guevarra said.
Senator Franklin Drilon said the measure would only require 20 billion to 25 billion pesos a year, much less than the economic managers’ estimate.
Duterte’s administration has planned a whopping US$180 billion (RM769 billion) infrastructure spending until the end of the president’s term.
To fund that, the government has asked lawmakers to pass new revenue measures.
Duterte’s economic programme focuses on infrastructure spending and fiscal efficiency to lift growth to as much as eight per cent before his six-year term ends in 2022. Reuters