FOR POVERTY ALLEVIATION. Fishermen in Albay receive free fishing boats and fish nets from BFAR and Rep. Joey Salceda (standing, 5th from right). Also in photo with the congressman is Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal. RHADYZ B. BARCIA
By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY --- Children of fishermen and farmers are government’s priority in providing free tuition in order to help their families rise from poverty, Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said.
At least 1.2 million Filipino students from poor families will be benefiting from the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act where some 424,000 K-12 poor students will be given a stipend of P3,500 each to help them finish schooling, Salceda told fishermen from this city and the towns of Manito and Rapu-Rapu where he helped distribute free fishing boats and fishnets being provided by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources here.
The awarding to 50 units of fishing boats and 50 sets of fishing nets, as well as four biosphere conservation patrol boats to local government units of Manito, Rapu-Rapu and Legazpi for sea patrol was intended to help fishermen increase their income to send their children to school, specifically those who are pursuing their tertiary education.
Salceda said that another P2,000 stipend for each fishermen and farmers will help them tide over, especially during extreme weather and the onset of the typhoon season.
“Our office will provide P2,000 special vouchers fishermen and farmers in Albay second congressional district as monthly stipend to help you alleviate from poverty and so for you to send your children to college education and for extreme weather events,” he said.
“Your children studying in college will also be given P3,000 for those studying in UST Legazpi, Divine Word College and Bicol University while P3,500 stipend will be allocated for those enrolled in community colleges under the universal access to tertiary education and help them finish their schooling and become productive citizens themselves,” the congressman added.
He said the signing of IRR to fully implement the enacted measure is expected to happen anytime soon. “Every Filipino should be given free college education for them to become competitive in Asean integration as competencies are vital through tertiary education,” he said.
Salceda said that out of 103 million Filipinos, 70 to 90 percent of them are without college degree. But with the passage of law, the number of the country’s new college graduates will increase.
The government, according to the Albay lawmaker, has provided P41B as subsidy or stipend for poor K-12 students, especially those whose parents are members of the 4Ps program, while P30Bmore were allocated for loan assistance payable once the recipient college graduate gets employed.
The House of Representatives has recently passed the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act, a consolidated measure that provides free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs), TESDA-run technical vocational institutions (TVIs), private colleges and technical vocational schools, including community colleges. It has accordingly earned approval by the Senate-House bicameral committee.
The measure adopted most of the provisions and original title of House Bill 2771 filed by Rep. Joey Salceda and eventually consolidated with the versions of party-list Reps. Sarah Jane Elago (Kabataan) and Antonio Tinio (Teachers).
The intention of the now approved measure was first implemented in Albay during Salceda’s term as governor. According to him, his own scholarship program has helped reduce Albay’s poverty incidence to 15 percent from 41 percent in 2007 by making higher education accessible to all, especially the childen of poor families.
Some 89,000 students were able to earn college degrees in Albay under the scholarship program during Salceda’s incumbency as provincial governor.
Salceda, now as vice chair of the House Committee on Appropriations has co-authored the free SUCs tuition bill where college students will start enjoying full free tuition fees next year.
Now known as the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act, Salceda said such measure is a game changer that will produce more young educated Filipinos that will help boost nation- building in the next decades.