A milestone in legislation
“Today, we have moved one step closer towards our goal of providing all Filipinos, particularly the poorest of the poor, free access to quality education that will serve as their tool to fight off poverty and unemployment.”
This was the statement made by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter “Companero” S. Cayetano as President Benigno Aquino III signed into law his bill that aims to provide young Filipinos - 80,000 a year in total - increased access to tertiary education to help them find better and higher paying jobs in the future.
Cayetano welcomed the signing of President Aquino into law the measure known as the Iskolar ng Bayan Act of 2014, which mandates all state universities and colleges (SUCs) to give automatic admission and provide scholarship grants to the top ten (10) public high school students of their respective graduating classes.
“This is good news to Filipino families who are having difficulties sending their children to college. The passage of this law will definitely change the lives of almost 80,000 Filipino youths who are dreaming of a better future for their families. 80,000 families will finally be able to feel the benefits of our growing economy,” he said.
"And this law also states that an admission exam is not required. So no SUC can deny any student the benefits under this measure as long as they belong to the top 10 of their graduating class."
Amid several political controversies hounding the government at present, the Senate leader commended the administration for not letting itself get distracted and for remaining focused on finding solutions to the daily burdens being faced by ordinary Filipinos.
“Filipino families don’t want to see their leaders bickering over politics, especially when they need help the most. Their main concern, among others, is how to give their children the kind of education they deserve,” Cayetano said.
“The people want results. They want solutions to their everyday problems. Let us show them that they are still our number one priority by implementing more measures like the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, measures that will directly address the Filipinos’ problems on the daily grind,” he added.
Under R.A. 10648, a public high school with more than 500 graduates is entitled to one additional scholarship slot in SUCs for every 500 graduates. The additional slots will be given to graduates whose ranks follow the top 10 students and who will meet admission requirements for freshmen in the SUCs of their choice.
“The scholarship grant provided under the law shall be limited to the full amount of tuition and other school fees for the first year of college. Thereafter, the student beneficiary shall be covered by the regular student financial assistance and scholarship programs of the CHED, if qualified, subject to the guidelines that the CHED may provide,” the Cayetano law further read.
Citing the lack of employment opportunities that greet the Filipino youth after they graduate, Cayetano underscored the importance of the newly signed law as an effective student assistance scheme that will help address concerns on joblessness and job mismatch.
For his part, he assured that he will continue to push for reforms and work hand-in-hand with the government to make their promise of a truly accessible education system a reality.
The senator earlier emphasized that the measure becomes particularly important now that the pork barrel has been abolished by Congress, leaving some 400,000 scholars on their own to fend for their schooling.
“The scholarship grant provided under the law is an even better alternative to the abolished scholarship program funded by PDAF as there will no longer be a chance for corruption. With the Iskolar ng Bayan Act in place, we can make sure that the people’s money is used solely for the benefit of Filipino families, not to enrich plundering officials. This is a perfect example of an efficient action from government that is free from corruption,” Cayetano said.