Press Release
November 16, 2023

Pia's closing remarks on the higher education budget
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Senior Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee

Actually, Mr President, upon your instructions and in our desire to prioritize education, knowing that in other countries, they are actually able to give even a hundred scholarships because there are takers. So we committed that during this budget, we will facilitate a meeting so the representative of the Hungary Embassy was here today meeting with the SUCs for closer coordination. So that's a commitment we make because, like you said, sayang nandyan na ang offer and contrary to what some students might think, it's [the courses are] conducted in English. So nakakahinayang. But if his honor will recall, on the spot naman po, we were texting already Chairman Popoy De Vera at that time and he also committed that they will ensure that these slots are filled. But that is why we had a representative of Hungary attend today and meet all the SUC presidents. So baka pati ho ang ibang kaibigan natin from other countries, we're willing to do the same for them as well, to coordinate, to support these scholarship programs for our students, which will also strengthen our ties with these other countries. ***

I recall that when we were in Hungary, October 27, ang request is more courses pa in Engineering, so that's where we can help facilitate. Gusto pala natin ng more Engineering, baka naman makapagbigay din sila, so we'll work together.


On MSA, this was also brought up by the Deputy Minority Floor Leader, the response there is the reevaluation of all the maritime schools are ongoing and there is a three-year deadline but the President actually wants it done in two years.

With regards to the operationalization of the PQF Law, as his honor correctly pointed out, Deped is very crucial here, and as his honor said, the Vice President/Secretary of Deped has been instrumental in ensuring that there are regular meetings.

On this note, before I go to labor education, I will include an often repeated question or query that my brother, Sen. Alan Cayetano, always includes. And this is, how long will it take for the commitment of CHED to reduce the number of years in college? Because that was a commitment made when we passed K-to-12, and I asked this during the hearing, if you recall, Chair Popoy.

The response you gave me is that you are awaiting also the various technical groups to be the one. Pero how do you crack the whip kasi nakapag-graduate na ang additional year, taon-taon? So I just have to manifest that, Mr President, because many parents expected that with K-to-12, mababawasan ang college years. And we already know in other countries, maraming courses na three years lang. So I just have to repeat that.

The final point of his honor is the labor education act, sabi ng CHED, this is with DOLE right now, sila ang nag-request na i-review ulit ang IRR. Narinig po ba yun ng ating Majority Floor Leader? At hindi kayo masaya, pero yan ang katotohanan. So it's with DOLE...


That is accurate, they are in charge, they've submitted it, and they said they were ready to sign, but DOLE wanted to review it again.


But before you move to submit, just a very quick response on our favorite topic, the Doktor Para sa Bayan and medical scholarships, and I affirm and confirm the numbers that his honor put on record. A total of P1.26 billion is what the Senate carried. We have always taken the lead on funding this program, the medical scholarships, and the support for medical schools, every year, I am proud to report that because of our initiative, we did not pass a law that simply says 'dagdagan ang doktor, bigyan namin kayo ng kaunting scholarships.' Every year, we ensure that there is a budget for capital outlay, MOOE, and personal services. And the seed fund. This program cannot be effective without these very detailed interventions. And again, I also confirm happily, I want to share the joy of our Majority Floor Leader that, from eight medical schools in 2020, it's 2023 and we now have 19, and there are 11 more pending in CHED. And I have to commend CHED that in fairness, every year, they prioritize the evaluation of the readiness of these schools. That's why tayo may seed fund because if a medical school is not open at the time we are having these debates, then the only time they can have funding is through the seed fund that we lodged with CHED. On that note, my final point on this is we cannot provide healthcare to the Filipinos by the services of the doctors alone. And so every year, I always encourage SUCs to strengthen their allied health programs and there have been some. Bulacan actually lately was asking funding for that, Bulacan State University, but I really encourage all the SUC presidents here that have med schools and even those that don't, na dagdagan niyo pa ang allied health programs n'yo because they are also extremely important.

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