President Rodrigo Duterte wants poor but bright students to be the first to benefit from the free tuition that will be offered at state universities and colleges through the P8-billion Higher Education Support Fund.
Duterte, in a message to Congress on December 22, put under conditional implementation some provisions of the P3.35-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2017, including the one on free tuition at SUCs.
"Yet as with all new programs, there is a need to safeguard the proper implementation of the provision of free tuition fee," Duterte said.
"It is important to underscore that we must still give priority to financially disadvantaged but academically able students," he added.
Duterte has tasked CHED and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to issue the guidelines for the implementation of the Higher Education Support Fund.
Contrary to some news reports, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Duterte did not veto the free tuition provision for the SUCs in the 2017 national budget.
"Free tuition will start of first semester of school year 2017-18. It was not directly vetoed. Only six items were directly vetoed and these are the use of income of some agencies," Diokno said.
"The 'free tuition' for the 14 state universities and colleges will be subject to guidelines to be jointly prepared by the DBM and CHED," he added. —NB, GMA News