CHED commissioner to UP chancellor: Why criticize gov't?

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Commissioner Prospero de Vera III on Wednesday, July 12, called out University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan for "criticizing government" because of the tuition-free policy.

"I don't know what Chancellor Tan is talking about when he points to government and says government is not clear about its plan. The P8 billion has been allocated by Congress in the 2017 [General Appropriations Act] and the [implementing rules and regulations] has been circulated for some time now," De Vera said in a public Facebook post Wednesday.

He added: "The IRR contains the allocation for each [state universities and colleges] and the guidelines on how they should enroll students. SUCs all over the country are implementing the free tuition program. So why is he criticizing government?"

He was reacting to Tan's announcement on Tuesday, July 11, that Diliman – the flagship campus of the UP system – will not collect tuition for the first semester of academic year 2017-2018 "until government is clear about their plan" on the tuition-free policy.

Tan said it remains unclear how much the government will subsidize, and who will be eligible for the subsidy.

But De Vera, former UP vice president for public affairs, pointed out that the implementation problem is "internal to UP."

"So please don't criticize CHED or the 'government' for this. And by the way, UP is also 'government'," he said in the comments section of his public post.

In the comments, De Vera also asked the UP leadership to clarify Tan's statement.

UP vice president for public affairs Jose Dalisay Jr told Rappler that the position of the university in the issue is to abide by the CHED-Department of Budget and Management guidelines, as they wait for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the free college tuition bill into law.

"Chancellor Tan decided on a no-collection policy for Diliman based on his appreciation of Diliman's situation, but no such policy was approved by the System as a whole or no specific recommendation was made to President Danilo Concepcion, so each constituent university will have to see how it will implement the CHED-DBM memo based on their own circumstances," Dalisay said in a text message on Wednesday.

He said that while UP is "all for free tuition," the university is still dealing with the details of its implementation.

"Our strong hope is that the President signs the free tuition bill into law [as soon as possible], so we can have a more coherent, unified, and simplified implementation of the free tuition program," Dalisay added.

In April, the government announced that SUCs will prioritize beneficiaries of government student financial assistance programs in the implementation of the tuition-free policy which has an P8-billion allocation under the 2017 budget.

Dalisay said UP will get P367 million from the P8-billion Higher Education Support Fund. (READ: Medical students to get free tuition in 8 SUCs) –

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.