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[ 3 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Sign free higher ed law, Duterte urged ]
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ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro urged President Duterte to sign the Universal Access to Free Higher Education bill into law, saying that it will ensure regular funding for free college and greater access of the youth to higher education. This, after Duterte’s economic managers urged him to veto the bill.

The approved bill is a product of the long-standing campaign for free higher education and a greater budget for education. “Its passage by Congress is a victory of the youth, teachers and other sectors of society whose collective action pushed for a law providing for free higher education and for government to fulfill its mandate to provide accessible and quality education at all levels,” said the solons.

“We have already proven that government can provide funds to make free higher education possible when Congress allocated P8.3 Billion for free tuition in the 2017 budget,” Tinio said. “The President can now move forward and sign the bill approved by Congress, providing the Filipino youth their right to access tertiary education.”

The administration’s economic team, including budget secretary Benjamin Diokno, recommended a veto, saying that free tertiary education will have very little impact on the poor and society and that it will need P100 billion.

“We urge the President not to heed the wrong information of his advisers. In fact, tuition and other school fees are the main factors discouraging many Filipinos from going to college. Also, the 2018 projections of income from tuition and other fees is P13.2 Billion, according to the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing, while CHED estimates that implementing the bill will only need around P34 Billion. Free college will therefore not cost P100 Billion, as Diokno alleges,” Castro countered.

“Any amount given to fund free higher education will be a worthwhile and long-term priority since it will contribute to the shaping of our youth and to nation building. Regular funding as ensured by a law for free tertiary education will make this possible,” Tinio ended. ###

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[ 27 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Include funds for free higher education in 2018 -solons ]

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro condemned the removal in the Duterte administration’s proposed 2018 budget of funds for free higher education.

“The 2018 budget omitted provisions that will provide free tuition for all undergraduate and medical students from SUCs. In fact, there is a ₱6.29 Billion budget cut for the CHED,” Tinio said.

In the 2017 General Appropriations Act, ₱8 Billion for free tuition and other school fees are included in the CHED budget as the Higher Education Support Program, covered by Special Provision 2. CHED is also allocated ₱3 Million for Cash Grants to Medical Students, covered by Special Provision 6. Special Provision 1 common to all state universities and colleges (SUCs) states that “SUCs are authorized to collect tuition fees and other necessary school charges in accordance with R.A. No. 8292: Provided, That starting the first semester of SY 2017-2018, no tuition fee shall be collected from undergraduate students. In lieu of the income from tuition fees, the SUCs shall be provided financial assistance from the Higher Education Support Program of the CHED.”

In the 2018 National Expenditure Program the President submitted to Congress, CHED’s Special Provisions 2 and 6 were not reiterated while the proviso on free tuition and the HESP in Special Provision 1 was deleted.

“President Duterte’s economic managers consistently opposed the bill, then he himself subjected the ₱8.3 Billion allocation in the 2017 budget to conditional implementation. And now, funds that are supposed to continue the free college program in 2018 are missing from his proposed budget,” said Tinio.

The solon also noted that President Duterte has not yet signed the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Bill approved by Congress. If signed into law, it would turn the one year program into a regular program of the government. According to the Senate and Lower House websites, it was transmitted to him on July 5.

“Instead of removing funds for free tuition and other school fees, the administration should even increase the allocation to ensure that tertiary education remains free in 2018 and that more youth can avail of it. It should even substantially increase SUCs’ budgets to ensure that what they offer is indeed quality education,” said Castro. “But now we see that the President’s promise to make higher education free is just a bigay-bawi.”

“This is a huge step backward for the administration, its dismissal of the people’s demand for higher budgets for education,” she added. “While the Philippine National Police, Department of National Defense, and Armed Forces of the Philippines are given hefty increases, higher education will suffer a tremendous budget cut. The Duterte administration should prioritize funding basic social services such as education instead of his wars against the people.”

“Now that the provisions for free tuition are deleted in the 2018 NEP, we need to further strengthen the campaign for free higher education,” Tinio added. “We have proven in the budget last year that the state can afford to allocate funds for education in the tertiary level.”

“We urge Congress to reinstate the provision providing free tuition for all undergraduate and medical students in the 2018 national budget. It supposedly has the power of the purse, so it should even take a step forward and significantly increase funds for free higher education. We also demand President Duterte to sign into law the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education bill,” Castro ended.###

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[ 24 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on ACT Teachers Party-List Antonio Tinio and France Castro on the President’s Threats to Bomb lumad schools ]
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The President in his post-SONA press conference said, “yung mga eskwelahan lang ng mga Lumad, they are operating without the Department of Education’s permit kasi sa eskwelahan nila they are teaching subversion, communism, lahat na. So umalis kayo dyan, bobombahan ko yan. Isali ko yang mga istruktura ninyo. I will use the Armed Forces, the Philippine Air Force.”
This statement amounts to an order to continue the military’s branding of innocents and the institutions nurturing them as rebels.  It is an order for the AFP to target civilians as rebels, and to intensify the militarization of their communities, the threats, intimidation, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and charging of trumped-up cases against students, teachers and tribal leaders, and the encampment and destruction by the military of schools.  It is more ominous since it comes from the commander-in-chief of the AFP and Lumad communities are now under fire with martial law.
We condemn this as a clear red-tagging on a large scale and endorsement of violence and murder against indigenous peoples. The President accused Lumad schools of training children to be rebels, when some of them have long been operating with DepEd recognition.  The applications of many are being denied as part of the systematic attack against indigenous peoples which the President is now openly advocating.
Schools of indigenous peoples and community learning centers such as those for the Lumad in Mindanao are established and maintained by people’s organizations and members of the local communities themselves due to the absence of public schools offering free education in their areas.  They are also part of indigenous peoples’ assertion of their right to self-determination.  President Duterte should encourage and protect them instead of targeting them as “enemies of the state.”
We demand that the President retract his statement.  We demand justice for all victims of militarization of communities, including the thousands of bakwits due to martial law.  We demand that he order the military to pull out of civilian communities and end all forms of attacks against Lumad schools and people’s organizations.  We demand an immediate end to martial law.

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[ 30 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on No genuine change in Duterte’s 1st year -solons ]

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro saw no genuine change in the first year of Duterte as President as more anti-poor policies are introduced and the nationalist and progressive people’s demands still have not been met.

“We have yet to see the realization of the people’s demands for just peace, salary increase, the end of contractualization, independent foreign policy, and genuine land reform, while neoliberal economic policies, the pork barrel system, the reintroduced death penalty, the impending new taxes and expanded VAT in the anti-poor TRAIN, and other policies are implemented by the Duterte administration,” Tinio said. “State fascism is also on the rise with the so-called Oplan Kapayapaan, aerial bombardments of civilian communities, the declaration of Martial law in Mindanao, and the killings of thousands of Filipinos in the drug war.”

The solons noted that President Duterte’s actions are the opposite of his earlier pronouncements against the military agreements with the US such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and appointed 59 ex-military men to key positions in government, causing the militarization of what should be a civilian bureaucracy.

“The President appointed progressives in his cabinet, but Secretaries Judy Taguiwalo of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Raphael Mariano of the Department of Agrarian Reform have yet to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. This is in contrast to the swift confirmation of many pro-US militarists, neoliberals, and other bureaucrat-capitalists,” Castro said.

“We urge President Duterte to act on his promises for just peace and continue the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) especially now that both panels have already started talking about the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).” Castro added.

“We call on the Filipino people to continue to fight for their rights as we reap the victories of our campaigns for free tuition in state universities and colleges, the free distribution of idle houses of the National Housing Authority to the urban poor led by KADAMAY, and the increase in the Social Security System pension to our collective actions for genuine change,” Tinio ended.

The solons joined the people’s march today from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola demanding for genuine change, decent salaries, job security, the lifting of Martial law in Mindanao, an end to the use of aerial bombings, the defense human rights, and the continuation of the peace talks with the NDFP. ###