25 Lawmakers Want UP Tuition Hike Probed, Halted

House Resolution No. 245 directs the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education to investigate the effects of the recent increase in tuition and other fees at the country’s premier state university.

Vol. VII, No. 33, September 23-29, 2007

At least 25 members of the House of Representatives have demanded an investigation into the recent hike in tuition and other fees at the University of the Philippines (UP), the country’s premier state university. The UP Board of Regents (BOR) approved a 300-percent increase in tuition and miscellaneous fees during its 1,216th meeting on Dec. 15, 2006.

Authored by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, House Resolution (HR) No. 245 directs the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education to investigate the effects of the recent increase in tuition and other fees at UP.

Casiño said that the increase from P300 to P1,000 ($6.62 to $22.07, based on an exchange rate of P45.31 per US dollar) per unit “has brought about a major contradiction to UP’s role in providing quality, relevant and accessible education to the Filipino youth,” citing unconfirmed reports of a drop of enrolment figures. The increase was imposed in the first semester of Academic Year 2007-2008 for incoming first-year students.

Those who supported HR 245 are Reps. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna), Luzviminda Ilagan and Liza Maza (Gabriela Women’s Party), Crispin Beltran (AnakPawis), Ma. Laarni Cayetano (Taguig City-Pateros) , Joel Villanueva (Cibac), Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Leyte), Guillermo Cua (Coop-Natcco) , Jeffrey Ferrer (Negros Occidental), Arnulfo Fuentebella (Camarines Sur), Ronaldo Zamora (San Juan City), Rene Velarde and William Tieng (Buhay), Marcelino Teodoro (Marikina City), Paul Daza (Northern Samar), Niel Tupas Jr. (Iloilo), Rommel Amatong (Compostela Valley), Mujiv Hataman (Anak Mindanao), Lorenzo Tañada III (Quezon), Antonio Del Rosario (Capiz), Juan Edgardo Angara (Aurora), Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel (Akbayan) and Mary Ann Susano (Quezon City).

Student and youth groups sought Casiño’s help for a House investigation. UP Diliman University Student Council Chair Shahana Abdulwahid earlier said that the UP students’ battle is being fought in all fronts, even in Congress. She said that they intend to gather support from legislators to stop the increase next semester pending a comprehensive review of its effects on enrolment.

At the height of the campaign, the Students and Parents Against the Rising Cost of Education – UP (SPARE-UP) was formed to consolidate their concerns and actions.

HB 245

Citing Art. XIV, Secs. 1 and 2 of the 1987 Constitution, the HR 254 proponents stressed, “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all” and “the State shall establish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society.” These provisions, according to them, are the reason for the establishment of state universities and colleges (SUCs) like UP.

Casiño expressed concern over initial reports gathered by the UP Office of the Student Regent (OSR) and the Philippine Collegian on UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) qualifiers who have decided to enroll in other tertiary schools due to the high tuition at UP.

Based on the reports, he said that UPCAT qualifiers who declined enrollment in UP, also known as no-show rates, were 42 percent in UP Los Baños, 65 percent in UP Iloilo, 48.5 pecent in UP Tacloban and 49 percent in UP Manila ’s College of Arts and Sciences.

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