Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara emphasized the necessity of reevaluating the government’s free education initiative, with a focus on requiring affluent students to contribute towards their tuition fees.

Angara was invited to comment on Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s proposal to assess the program, which Diokno deemed inefficient and wasteful.

In a text message, Angara stated, “I believe we should conduct a comprehensive review aimed at making wealthier families responsible for tuition expenses. Multi-millionaire households should contribute to tuition costs, allowing more resources to be directed towards supporting underprivileged families and students.”

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III expressed agreement with Diokno’s viewpoint, stating, “Free college education should be reserved for those who aspire to attend college, possess the academic aptitude for higher education, and can secure a competitive slot through merit-based examinations. Secretary Diokno’s perspective is indeed valid.”

Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero expressed confusion about Diokno’s priorities, questioning why resources appeared limited for investing in the nation’s human capital while being more generous in flood control efforts that he believed had not yielded the desired results.

Escudero pointed out that a significant allocation of P181 billion was made for flood control in 2022, with a limited impact on reducing flooding in various regions. He suggested that this allocation deserved a thorough review and reconsideration.

Former Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, a co-author of the Free College Law in the Senate, emphasized the importance of ensuring that the law benefits all Filipino youth rather than a select few. Aquino’s statement came in response to Diokno’s proposal to reserve the government’s free tertiary education program for deserving students. (ai/mnm)