Malacañan Palace No less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte stood as witness during the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and almost 200 Public Higher Education Institutions on Wednesday, June 13, to launch the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act” (UAQTEA).

CHED Officer-in-Charge J. Prospero E. De Vera III, DPA signed the MOA on behalf of the Commission. De Vera is also the chairperson of the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Governing Board, the agency spearheading the implementation of UAQTEA.

CHED Commissioners Ronald L. Adamat, Lilian A. De Las Llagas, Perfecto A. Albin, Central and Regional Office directors came in full force to show their support to during the momentous occasion which was held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañan Palace in Manila.

In his remarks, President Duterte renewed his commitment to provide quality and affordable education for all.

“As we bring education closer to poor students, we must also ensure that the quality of education is not compromised and that its benefits are cascaded to all,” Duterte said.

Republic Act 10931 is the landmark social legislation that was enacted into law on August 3, 2017.  It is composed of four main programs: 1) Free Higher Education wherein the government will provide free tuition, miscellaneous and other similar or related fees to students admitted in SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs, 2) Free Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for those enrolled in state-run TVIs, 3) Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) or grants-in-aid, and 4) national Student Loan Program (SLP).

Around 1.3 million students from 112 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and 78 CHED-recognized Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) will benefit from the initial implementation RA 10931.

For this year, at least Php 40 billion is allocated to fund the implementation of the law which Duterte noted as “a crucial step in helping young Filipinos fulfill their dreams of becoming productive members of our country’s workforce through academic degrees and technical-vocational training.”

“One of the reasons why I’m really so passionate in my advocacy sa drugs pati sa (sic) anti-criminality is my constant, our constant worry about the tomorrow of our children. This is when we have made it a priority to make quality education affordable and accessible to all,” Duterte added.

In his welcome remarks, CHED OIC De Vera thanked the president for his unwavering support to RA 10931, which he describes as the “greatest investment for the future.”

“I thank our President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and the Champions of Education in Congress for doing what no administration in the past has done, or even attempted to do… As we witness history unfold today, I can attest that indeed- CHANGE change has come,” De Vera added.

For the initial implementation of RA 10931 this Academic Year 2018-2019, De Vera noted that 1.3 million students will no longer pay tuition and miscellaneous fees in the public colleges and universities. Among them, 300,000 poor students who are included in Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Listahanan will be given additional subsidy by the government.

Albay 2nd District Representative and House Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairperson Joey Sarte Salceda, Zamboanga Sibugay 2nd District Representative and House Committee on Higher and Technical Education Chairperson Ann K. Hofer, and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. also witnessed the MOA signing.