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CHEd removes service requirement from free college tuition law IRR

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The Commission on Higher Education has agreed to remove the service requirement for beneficiaries of free tuition in government schools. -- BW FILE PHOTO

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has agreed to remove the service requirement for beneficiaries of free tuition in government schools from the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017.

“CHEd has decided to delete it from the IRR,” Isabela Rep. Maria Lourdes R. Aggabao, who sponsored the CHEd budget, said during deliberations early Thursday.

Ms. Aggabao was acting on the motion of ACT-Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio to defer consideration of the budget, in the absence of commitment from the agency to remove the Return Service Agreement (RSA) from the IRR.

“I am going on the record that CHEd has no legal basis to insert a return service agreement in the IRR of the free tertiary education (law),” Mr. Tinio said during his interpellation.

“It defeats the purpose of the law if it attaches a service requirement, and makes it not truly free education,” he added in a separate phone message.

The RSA system requires students benefiting from free tuition fee to render service while still in school.

“SUCs (State Universities and Colleges) and LUCs (Local Universities and Colleges) shall formulate and implement a Return Service Agreement System for students benefiting from the free higher education provision of this Act, as part of their admission and retention policies. Such guidelines shall be approved by their respective governing boards and the CHEd,” according to Section 4 of the IRR.

Mr. Tinio argued the RSA is not included in any of the provisions of Republic Act 10931, which he co-authored.

He noted also implementing the RSA system goes against the Constitution, which provides that higher education should be accessible to Filipinos.

“I am happy but will be even happier once I see the CHEd order. However, since CHEd made its commitment on the record, then I am satisfied,” Mr. Tinio said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan