STUDENT LEADERS. Student leaders laud President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the free tuition bill for tertiary education. However, in a press conference at the SM Kapehan on Monday, Aug. 7, the students said they will remain vigilant while the implementing rules and regulation of the new law has not yet been released. (L-R) Prince Harvey Arellano, vice chairperson of the University of the Philippines Mindanao University Student Council, Rowen Wabina, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) coordinator and UP Mindanao USC chairperson, and Jeo Olar of Save Our Schools UP Mindanao.(Robby Joy D. Salveron/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The University of the Philippines Mindanao University Student Council (USC) lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the free tuition bill but said it will remain vigilant as they continue to campaign for a mass-oriented education for all.

Romen Wabina, National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) coordinator and UP Mindanao University Student Council chairperson, said in a press conference on Monday, August 7 that they are thankful to President Rodrigo Duterte for hearing the decades-long call of student leaders to grant free college education.

Duterte signed the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act of 2017 on Thursday night.

The signed Republic Act 10931, or the “Universal Access to Quality Education Act”, gives full tuition and other school fees subsidy for students in any state-run college or university and technical-vocational schools.

However, Wabina stressed that despite having the law signed, they seek more reforms for the education sector.

“We don’t know what will be stated in the implementing rules and regulation of the Commission on Higher Education. It is very possible that there will be provisions in the implementing rules and regulation that will be not pro-student ad pro-people,” Wabina said.

He said all students should be given the right to free education even those who have poor performance.

“Kahit bulakbol, yung grades mo is mababa, dapat bigyan ka ng libreng tuition dahil nga napakaraming mga batayan, mga researches na magpapatunay na yung estudyante ay maraming factors kung bakit nababagsak siya (Even those who are failing in shool or those who have low grades should be given free education because researchers show that there are many factors why a student fail in school),” he said.

Wabina cited that having a colonial structure of education, mental health problem, family problems, and poverty are just some of the factors that may have caused the student’s poor performance.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday urged that only poor and deserving students should benefit from the said law.

In a report by GMA News, Lacson said the Implementing Rules and Regulations should clearly state that free tuition should only be given to deserving students so that the government would not spend to much.

Lacson said the government should not spend money for students who are undeserving.
Lacson also stressed that there should be a monitoring body to see whether it is being implemented and a mechanism to filter and determine deserving students.

“Dapat salain din. Otherwise napakalaki ng gagastusin natin. E kung paulit-ulit, nakakalimang taon na first year college pa rin, hindi naman tayo papayag doon (There should be a mechanism to filter the students who can avail the free tuition. Otherwise, we will be spending a lot of money. What if a student would take five years to finish his first year college? We will not allow that),” he said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the IRR of the Universal Access to Quality Education Act will be released in 15 days.(

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