Press Release
February 20, 2024

Transcript of Senator Risa Hontiveros' interventions
Senate hearing on RBH 6
February 20, 2025

Senator Risa Hontiveros (SRH): Salamat, Mr. Chair. At maraming salamat kay President Jimenez for really quite a scintillating input. I think it's rare na we witness the State University thinking aloud about itself, how to evolve, even speaking as an Atenean.

And before I go to my questions, Mr. Chair, para po sa CHED at para sa ating mga associations of educational institutions, just two quick points for the record.

First, Mr. Chair, I wish to manifest that the present formulation of RBH 6 on education allows the liberalization even of basic education. As written, the word basic is inserted at the beginning of the provision, but the last sentence states, "the control and administration of educational institutions shall be vested in citizens of the Philippines unless otherwise provided by law."

So in this last sentence, which is controlling, there's no qualifier for education. Therefore, it is possible, at ito po yung sinasabi ko kaninang prejudicial question or point, it is possible for Congress to interpret that all of education is open to contrary legislation.

And next and last for my two quick opening points, Mr. Chair, I wish to remind our committee of the statements of former Chief of State, Chief Justice Davide, at the beginning of these hearings. Quote: "With foreign control or dominance in our basic education, we would put asunder the noble, patriotic, and nationalistic virtues which are constitutionally mandated to be a part of the curricula of all educational institutions. These include teaching patriotism and nationalism, love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation for the roles of national heroes in the historical development of the country, the rights and duties of citizenship, and strengthening ethical, moral, and spiritual values."

In the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, Commissioner Gascon also explained that, quote, "The intent when we speak of educational institutions being wholly owned by Filipinos, is that in the rearing of Filipino citizens, Filipino values are encouraged. We have to safeguard the interests of our future generations by assuring that education be directed, to serve Filipino interests."

So to my questions now, Mr. Chair, to the Commission on Higher Education, both current and former. So aside from Attorney Carpio, to please, as you wish to include Dr. Tati and Dr. Cynthia, Gaya po ng ibang bansa sa ASEAN, and we've had really great examples of them in this hearing, di po ba may programa ang CHED na tumutulong upang ang training at certified na qualifications sa ating mga graduates, ay katumbas ng mga hinahanap sa ibang bansa?

At syempre, maaaring namang imbitahin at papasukin ang mga mahusay na guro upang palakasin ang ating mga course offerings. So ano nga po ba ang kailangan gawin pa? Kailangan bang alisin ang limitasyon sa saligang batas dahil may dayuhang universidad ang gustong magtayo ng branch sa Pilipinas na 100% owned nila?

Would Attorney Carpio like to address this? Or would the former Commissioners like to address this?

CHED representative Atty. Peter Lloyd Carpio: Insofar as such is concerned, Mr. Chair, we still haven't discussed the... So I'm not at liberty to ventilate the points of CHED on this matter. I will pick the answer na lang.

Sen. Angara: We realize that maybe you want to think about it more and not come up with a knee-jerk response. But please, for our benefit.

Carpio: We'll do it, Mr. Chair. Thank you.

Former UP Vice President Cynthia Banzon-Bautista: So I think we are really thinking very seriously of level 6, 7, 8 of the current setup for higher education without prejudice to the revisions of the Philippine Qualifications Framework. That when we say it's level 6, that the outcomes of level 6 are actually met by all of the institutions.

I think this will translate to something as major, maybe, and controversial as K-12. Because ASEAN, the ASEAN community is now moving towards a diploma stamp,a stamp of the level of the qualification.

Now, let's say we have engineering in the Philippines. The BS engineering program is offered all over because everyone wants to offer a BS even if we're not producing engineers but we're producing technologies or technicians. So they should theoretically be level 4 or level 5. But everyone has a BS program. What may be bloody and controversial and very political is that eventually you would have a regulatory body, whoever that is, that would say, that this BS engineering program in this particular school is level 4 and not level 6.

So, we are not yet there but I think the effort is so that we are closer or at least all of our institutions are closer to the level they are at. What that would also mean, EDCOM is now working on the typology of higher education institutions, which is so crucial because some of our institutions, their mission is not really, the mission of producing higher level, higher education graduates, but their mission can be producing the technicians.

And that's the problem with our concept of TESDA. There's level 1 and level 2 lang eh. Or we're just producing the manicurists. But no, technical goes all the way. In fact, in Malaysia, technical goes all the way to level 8. And they have the industry part, they have an industry dissertation advisor of certain students.

Angara: I think we need more success stories there, Dr. Bautista. Kasi nga, yung mga magulang, talagang hindi pa rin na-reverse yung bias eh. Whereas the actual cases in, in real life experiences in foreign countries is that these tech voc graduates actually make more money than the, than the BS graduate.

Banzon- Bautista: Yeah. So it's also the money that..

Sen, Joel Villanueva: And may I, may I also interject just a very quick comment on this tech voc sector. Not, not only, not only, there is a growing penchant still for diploma or college diploma, I would say.

But TESDA should really step up because you look at the training regulations right now.

The NC3s and NC4s are probably less than 25% of the total training regulations. Now, you look at NC5s, which is supposed to be the diploma level, the NC5s. It's zero. It's still zero.

Banzon- Bautista: Sir, it's also because of our education system, it is very American.

If you go by the British system or the system of our ASEAN countries, nursing is a technical program. It's not an academic program. But, in our case, everything is an academic program. But anyway, sir.

Angara: Yeah, we have to kind of reverse that bias. And also in, I just want to share in, in the Republic of Ireland, their equivalent of their, their quality assurance framework, they place a monetary equivalent. As to the potential earnings, there's a range as what you can earn once you reach this, that is industry-based, actually. It's based on a survey of the actual industry. So, I think if we can come up with a rough equivalent of that, then, you know, that's an incentive certainly for families and future graduates. Chair, Chair, Tati.

Former CHED chair Patricia Licuanan: But on the other hand, what we have is a salary scale that is based on a degree. And which is really totally false. So, you, you, you require a degree for a job that doesn't require a college degree. Because, of course, you know, there's more prestige. So, it's a, it's psychological.

Angara: And then, one of the promises when we passed K-12 during your time was that we would cut the college degree to three years. And, among others, so, and we would give jobs to the tech voc graduates. But unfortunately, there was no accreditation. But we've addressed that in this, in this year's budget for the first time in a decade, would you believe? So, these are the sort of things that we have to address. But, but, did you get an answer to your question?

SRH: Well, actually, Mr. Chair, yes, I was starting to. Notable nga na in talking just about this one question addressed to CHED. We didn't even have to mention or talk about 100% foreign ownership. Tapos, ang daming moving parts talaga in our ongoing efforts at education reforms. So, maybe there's even virtue in less tectonic shifts on the ground of the Constitution and really just address these many moving parts with the tools we have already set up by law.

So, I'm glad to have heard from the Chair earlier that possibly the final version of RBH6. After all, the hearings, of course, may be to leave it at unless otherwise provided by law. So, I'm more hopeful with that possibility. And I appreciate the continuing inputs of our resource persons to guide the committee towards that, the final formulation of the resolution.

And then, still to the Ched family, current and past. So, meron din po tayong Transnational Higher Education Act also mentioned by some of our earlier resource persons, RA 114488, na pinasanong itong August 28, 2019 lamang. Ang polisiya ng batas to modernize the Philippine

higher education sector and bring international quality standards and expertise into the country with a view to making higher education globally competitive, attracting a flow of talented students, faculty, and staff, and improving the country's human resource base.

So, dito, pinapayagan na ang Transnational Higher Education Act sa pamamagitan ng mga binanggit din ang ating mga resource persons, academic franchising, branch campuses, double degrees, at iba pa. So, in effect, meron na po tayong batas para ipatupad ang polisiyang ito. So, bakit po kakailanganin ang ChaCha? Hindi ba ito sapat pa? Yes, Atty. Carpio?

Carpio: That is correct po, Mr. Chair. A foreign HCI may actually incorporate a Philippine company with a 60% share as long as it's approved po by the SEC and then foreign citizens may constitute up to 80% po of the faculty of the said school and 40% of the admin personnel may also constitute po of the local branches. So, that is actually allowed po by the law. By the said law. Yes, Mr. Chair.

Angara: Has anyone taken advantage of that law? Has anyone incorporated under that law?

Carpio: We will submit po a report po on the status and milestones of the, of RA number 11448. So, we will submit po. Mr. Chair.

SRH: And pending the submission of your report, Atty. Carpio, pero meron ba kayong kahit broad strokes na sa pakiramdam natin marami nang ginamit yung batas na ito or kaunti pa lang or wala? If you could hazard an impression.

Carpio: In our draft report po, there are 11 Philippine HEIs who had projects who had projects po with 9 UK HEIs po.

So, yan po initial po. And we also there are also some SUCs po who are also partnered po with UK schools. That is po.

SRH: Okay. Salamat, Atty. So, kaunti pa lang.

Carpio: Yes. Base po dito sa numbers po.

SRH: Baka maiging i-maximize pa muna natin itong Republic Act bago subukang lalong i-maximize sa pamamagitan ng Constitution. Baka kung mas maliit na tool ay pwede na pwede pang i-optimize. Hindi natin kailangan ng mas malaki or mas fundamental na tool.

So, kung ganun po na we have this law that's starting to be used by foreign educational institutions. So, napapaisip talaga ako kung ano pa bang gusto ng mga dayuhan na hindi kayang gawin ng batas na ito. Baka naman tayo yung mas concerned kesa sa kanila na we need we need the charter change.

Baka naman meron ding pag-iisip sa kanila na sapat na sana in principle yung batas but it's a matter of implementation and then of course the many other changes that we see in the country. In terms of education reform. At kasi, Attorney, would you know kung meron bang clamor mula sa mga dayuhang eskwelahan na magmay-ari ng eskwelahan dito?

Carpio: In so far as my personal knowledge maybe I will, I will just alam po direct po, that to the proper office and then we will include na po in our in our report po to this committee.

Villanueva: Mr. Chair and with the indulgence of my colleague I think these are very simple and basicly questions that is being raised by our colleague. And the topic is whether or not we open this up to foreign ownership and I think it's just but proper for CHED to have a position on this, at least give us data.

I mean nobody is interested for franchising or putting up their branches here? At least we have an idea sir if we can if we can give us something please.

Carpio: Unfortunately Mr. Chair I do not possess the information at this moment so I do apologize for that Mr. Chair but we will inform your office po immediately if there's indeed a clamor

UP Professor Emeritus Gisela Concepcion: I think Mr. Chair the opposite exists in Singapore. It's the Singapore government that invests in the foreign university and the foreign universities are very, very popular all over the world including Saudi Arabia so it's not the case of the very, very high quality foreign universities wanting to invest here it's the opposite.

We're the ones who quite need them and so my question is would this purpose partnership not ownership, but partnership, be allowed for SUCs for UP or would it just be for private HEIs? See I think that's an important question. So in the case of NUS you know Duke that's a NUS investment. In the case of you know MIT SMART, that's a Singaporean government investment.

Angara: Correct me if I'm wrong I think they've decided to pull back a little bit because of the costs.

Concepcion: Well then yes and then there's like an exit plan so after some time then the Singaporean University has to stand on its own, so the SUTD technology design Singaporean is already producing its engineers.

There's another thing I wanted to share I think that we have to support MSMEs as a middle class, as well as our start ups, our innovators for new solutions to problems but there are existing MSMEs and this is where I think the PRC, the government should make sure that we have good training, conceptual as well as manua,l hands and mind. And it's really the practice in Taiwan in South Korea and in Japan that after your college degree you must really get through you know trainings to get certifications that would allow you to earn more, you be promoted in the company. So pataasan niyan ng mga certifications and that really relies on a very high quality training or certification of your skills for the next level.

So that's something that the government must invest in the training so that supports your MSMEs. Ao in South Korea so I went to this training, but it is in the Hyundai City which is really the center of ship building so syempre yung training nila doon tungkol lahat sa ano you know building ships heavy metal industries but they invested in heavy machinery they could be you know second hand but they would still be used to train the employees of say Hyundai City.

So the other one of course is innovation so that's where you would have our startups but then in the university which is really the seed of innovation we lack this thing that goes on all over the world and this is foreign postdoc, so based on evolution and my area which is biological evolution, internationalism or high breeding is so important.

So everywhere, in the US you have universities where the research groups are run by the PI and then you have the middle level faculty and then it's really the postdoctoral fellows that run the labs and mentor the PhDs, the masters the undergraduates and even the high school students. And this is just to emphasize that education and R&D innovation are inextricably linked because part of teaching and education is mentoring, a one-on-one mentoring, and so you cannot really dissociate the two.

So we're saying that for postdoctoral fellowships which is practically nil in the university in UP even you know, we should be in this scenario soon where we will allow, we will have enough interest from foreign postdocs to come. And in my time before I retired I had so many interest from Indian scientists young researchers who wanted to do a postdoc with me but you know there's no opportunity to do that so that's how the world works in terms of research development and innovation.

SRH: Thank you Dr. Concepcion thank you Mr. Chair one of the points raised by Dr. Concepcion I will go there also, yung the implications of this Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 6 even on our state colleges and universities. Or maybe, I will just to go with the flow, diretso ko na doon - related to manner of acquisition and mergers of higher education institutions.

So in current practices on acquisition and mergers of HEIs large corporations like Ayala Phinma, SM Investments and others have established their education arms to buy or bail out some local universities and colleges.

So yung isang tanong po dyan before I get to the top of the food chain, the SUCs. Kapag maipasa po itong RBH6 - ang mga foreign owned and controlled corporations, will they be allowed to buy or bail out local universities and colleges? O sila'y maging master franchisers ng mga eskwelahan sa bansa?

Would CHED, current or previous, like to address the question?

Licuanan: That would be my interpretation that basically that is what ownership would allow them to do. But maybe to go back to a previous question Senator Risa even before the transnationalization law, because that came after my time but even during our time the precisely and internationalization programs were not, did not bear their full fruit.

in other words with the existing structures we did not even develop its full potential. So why are we talking ownership? And I don't get a sense that there is - - you asked, "Are there a lot of foreign universities knocking at our doors?" I doubt it, you know.

So this is like a theoretical question that's why my original point is it worth our time discussing all of this because there's so many ideas around the room that we can develop outside of the rubric of ownership you know so why are we discussing ownership?

Banzon-Bautista: I think I pick up from just looking at Singapore they invite for strategic reasons we have to determine what the strategic reasons are and whatever arrangement whatever incentives, whatever I'm not sure they would like ownership.

But even if they want ownership it has to be very strategic for instance you can invite maybe Duke University, one possible strategic thing you need to have a lot of PhDs. Dr. Giselle has been mentioning that. And we send them out and sometimes it's very costly. Can't we get Duke University here for this particular period of time to offer programs so that our faculty can get it from Duke University but in the Philippines?

I mean I'm just using Duke as an example or strategically if it's R&D can't we get it's like a Picari thing University of California that was the whole idea. So it's strategic, it's very selective and it's the government that chooses and then they will not ask for ownership. Or if they ask for ownership then you can perhaps for a certain period of time but those are case to case.

Ang problem lang that will happen - the mergers - if there is an open market in education. If that is the case, and that is what you don't want to happen. Because that will further erode our reputation as an education provider in the world.

SRH: Thank you, Mr. Chair. We get to reflect on previous policy directions like the privatization of education. Mr. Chair I think Father Delvo wants to interject.

COCOPEA Chair Fr. Albert Delvo: Thank you Mr. Chairman. On behalf of COCOPEA and Catholic Education Association of the Philippines I can proudly say that introducing reform or amendments to the sections concerned may be done much much later.

That's not the urgent concern right now, because why? One, we have not made the departments of the government like CHED, like TESDA, like DOST, to work together actively and exuberantly in a harmonized, coordinated manner. Wala pa doon eh.

Second, we have been talking about employability of our graduates but we have not been really serious into enabling our graduates to be producers, makers, manufacturers and shippers. Otherwise, we become just retailer and catering to hospitality services. We don't grow out of this only we have to be producers and makers.

And another one would be, we rather improve policy and implementation and the government seems to be very highly and over regulating in regards to private education institutions. And finally if LUCs or SUCs are allowed to partner with foreign entities because they have the land to offer, at which we do not have that might also create another problem for us, in terms of sustainability and likewise flourishing, we cannot develop our private education institutions when in fact we are rendering service in complementary to the government service.

SRH: Salamat Father Mr. Chair actually na anticipate ni Father yung susunod kong tanong sa CHED thank you for opening it up, Father. Kasi tatanong ko sana kung posible din ba upon the decision of the Board of Trustees ng ating mga SUCs or LUCs na ibenta yung kanilang mga pamantasan at kolehyo sa isang foreign private education provider, in the guise of internationalization and modernization of HEIs? Would Atty. Carpio have any soundings from CHED about this?

Carpio: Mr. Chair, since the SUCs are governed by their charters we should look into the powers and functions of the boards of the SUCs. If they are explicitly allowed to do that, they could do so, but if there is no express power in the charter, it will be not allowed, it is not legally possible to do so.

SRH: Salamat Attorney, and maybe bukod sa aming mga miyembro ng komite baka pati yung mga SUCs at LUCs would be anticipating yung position paper ng CHED dahil kayo somehow would create that moral suasion possibly, about how they might look at this kind of a scenario kung maipasay yung RBH6 at least in its present form.

Kasi ang susunod na iwawander ko eh, so pwede ba na yung UP o yung PUP o kahit sino sa mga pinahahalaga nating SUCs in the future ay pag may ariyan ng foreign entities? Hindi ko ma-imagine talaga yun. Natawa si President Jimenez.

Angara: But under the UP Charter, you're not allowed to sell land, you're not allowed.

UP President Angelo Jimenez: Yes, we are a government entity. Our government is a board. We are a public institution. As a UP, in my opinion, cannot sell. We are not even allowed to sell to alienate property, property, property natin, real estate, even to another government agency. Unless, of course, it's by act of Congress. So we have land grants.

And it's not really, I would say, within the commerce of men. It is a public institution. And to be frank, it is unthinkable. I have never thought even of it. So we will remain a public institution. But we can enter into, we have corporate powers, since we land grant. We are supposed to actually, we are a land grant university. We are supposed to really use our resources to enhance. And I intend to do that to, to improve the university experience, specifically to produce more of our PhDs, to retain them, and to invest as well in 21st century pedagogy.

Because we are moving from 19th century to the new mode. We in UP believe that our civilization has in fact already changed. And we are now living, we are now living in a digital civilization. And that is a completely new way of living. It's a new kind of homo sapiens that lives in a digital civilization.

SRH: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And I hope, President Jimenez, as you develop the 21st century pedagogy, you will retain some of the oldies but goodies like the pedagogy of the oppressed of Paulo Freire and such others.

Jimenez: It's my readings. In college.

SRH: Yes, salamat, Mr. Chair.

My last question for this round on state subsidies for higher education. Kung maipasa yung RBH-6 in its current form, anong implikasyon nito sa kasalukuyang pondo at subsidiyong binibigay ng estado sa mga public HEIs, SUCs, at maging mga LUCs? Pati ba yung mga dayuhan makatatanggap na sa estado natin? CHED?

Carpio: I don't think so, ma'am, that they will be allowed to receive any government subsidies.

SRH: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I guess we'll wait for the position paper of CHED kasi ang impression ko naman, we've been talking about education as more in the services sector, at least of the economy, although education is more than the economy, dahil may existing trade principles in trades and services, gaya ng liberalization of higher education, baka lumabas na may free pass ang ating gobyerno na umatras sa responsibilidad nitong pondohan ang mga SUCs at LUCs at hayaan silang makipag-compete sa free market ng higher education.

And a few of our resources, first persons earlier mentioned this, Mr. Chair, and I share their apprehension and the desire that the state not abdicate in its obligation, not use the resolution or any other instrument as an excuse, you know, pa-coopt, so hindi na niya tungkulin sa ating mga estudyante o sa ating bayan.

And lastly, very quick lang, a related question, Mr. Chair. Dito pa rin sa state subsidies for higher education. Posible ba na sa ilalim ng RA 10931, yung UACTE Act, na ang mga foreign-owned and controlled HEIs ay maging eligible sa tertiary education subsidies?

Carpio: I don't think so, ma'am.

SRH: And again, I hope you are right, CHED. We will eagerly await your position paper. Maraming salamat. Maraming salamat, Mr. Chair. And that's from me.

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