Press Release
July 5, 2021


Maganda at mapagpalang araw po sa inyong lahat.

We are here this Monday morning to deliberate on Senate Bill No. 1744 or the Revised Higher Education Act, House Bill No. 8111 and Senate Bill No. 2106 converting into a state university the Bulacan Agricultural State College in my home province of Bulacan, and House Bill No. 8188 and Senate Bill No. 2120 also converting into a state university the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur and all its campuses.

Before I give some remarks on the pet bill of Chairman de Vera, let me comment briefly on the two conversion bills mentioned above, of which Bulacan 3rd District Representative Lorna Silverio, Ilocos Sur Congresswoman Kristine Singson-Meehan, and our colleague, Senator Manang Imee Marcos, are the primary authors.

Like the other local bills that had gone through the scrutiny of this Committee, we support the proposed measures at hand because we believe that they can enhance the value proposition of our public colleges. We also join the Commission on Higher Education in its consistent position that the operational requirements for a university must be duly complied with before granting a university status.

These prerequisite operational requirements reflect the need to strengthen the capability of CHED to establish and enforce educational policies and standards which at present is really a challenge for the commission since implementation functions have not been the goal when RA 7722 was passed into a law.

Consequently, "implementation functions" become real challenges for the Commission, hence, the necessity for a Revised Higher Education Act.

We will also tackle this afternoon the proposed Joint Resolution No. 10. This proposed joint resolution seeks to create a Congressional Oversight Committee on Education to Study and Assess Philippine Education it will be with Sen. Win Gatchalian's committee, the Comm on Basic Education.

We revisited the final report of the EDCOM, especially on the rationale for the establishment of the CHED in preparation for today, and let me quote part of it:

"The Commission on Higher Education (CHED), a collegial body, will have programming and coordinative rather than administrative responsibility over higher-education programs and institutions. Higher education institutions, both public and private, will enjoy autonomy in curricular matters and in determining the academic requirements, admission charges, the professional competence of students, and research priorities."

Unfortunately, and I agree with Chairman De Vera, the Commission had to absorb more and more mandates as Congress passed more measures affecting higher education in the country. Just for the past eight years, more or less a dozen laws have been enacted, increasing the implementation mandates of the CHED.

A perfect example that significantly increased the implementation responsibilities of the Commission would be the enactment of Republic Act 10931 or the Free Tuition Law. Another example is how the increase in the number of State Universities and Colleges and Local Universities and Colleges in the country drains the human and other resources of the CHED.

I am not sure if this accurately captures what the good CHED Chairperson has in mind: May dagdag na trabaho pero walang dagdag na makinarya. May dagdag na mandato pero, didiretsuhin ko na dahil nandito naman ang DBM, kulang sa tao at pasweldo.

We are blessed indeed because Chairman De Vera is the one advocating for this measure. I am aware of his decades of work in reforming the country's higher education sector both as a practitioner and part of the academe before joining the Commission and as a public policy expert himself.

We reiterate our full support to the bill being the only principal author of the measure here in the Senate. But we seek clarity on two pertinent issues arising from this proposal, which we believe will also concern our colleagues once we report SB 1744 out in the plenary:

Firstly, how can we justify this bill amid government streamlining efforts? This piece of legislation will provide for provincial CHED field offices. We want to know the additional human resource and budgetary requirements that the Commission will need should this bill passes into law.

Alam ko po na isa ito sa mga puno't dulo ng panukala, pero magandang ngayon pa lang Chair Popoy, makwenta na natin at makapagbigay na tayo ng ball park figure how much do we need in implementing this measure. Andiyan naman po ang DBM para makahingi po tayo ng guidance sa kanila.

Secondly and lastly, how will this measure resolve the problems of coordination in the education sector? Nakita ko si, Sen. Imee, Sen. Pia, Sen.Nancy lagi naming napaguusapan dito yung importance of coordination with the three educational institutions. We are aware of our backlogs in the Philippine Qualifications Framework, the Ladderized Education Program, and the Teacher Education Council, among others. It all boils down to the lackluster coordination in the education sector.

My apprehension lies in this: If we strengthen individual educational agencies - TESDA, by the way, is asking that they be converted into a Department - will it become detrimental to seamless coordination and collaboration among the education agencies? Will it encourage each agency all the more to work in silos?

We must improve our mandates as individual government agencies, but remember that the trifocalized training and education sector is designed in the context of a "collaborative governance regime," as a single and unified education sector.

Kasi po, kung mas palalakasin ang kapangyarihan ng CHED - at isama na rin natin ang TESDA, kung ito ay maging departamento, - hindi po ba lalong magsasarili ang mga ito sa halip na palakasin ang coordination para mas seamless at hindi "fragmented" ang ating educational policies?

As we move forward formulating this piece of legislation, we must identify and incorporate elements, facets, and loci of collaboration. We must ascertain that while strengthening each education agency, we also ensure that cooperation remains the prevailing pattern of attitude and behavior within the trifocalized education sector.

I am confident that ours will be a fruitful and lively discussion this morning. Our guests this morning are at the doorsteps of their respective colleges and universities day in and day out. They are in the best position to brief us on the actual situation on the ground.

The timing could not have been more perfect as the higher education sector faces significant challenges and uncertainties amid this pandemic. I believe that Senate Bill No. 1744 will facilitate a radical opening of pathways to career success among our youth and aid in the transformation of higher education with technology at its core.

Muli maraming salamat at pagpalain po tayong lahat ng ating Panginoong Diyos.

News Latest News Feed