THE REGIONAL Multi-Sectoral Committee on Tuition Fees (RMSCTF) will press for the regulation of miscellaneous fees after discovering that Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg. 232, otherwise known as the “Education Act of 1982”, regulates increases in such.

During the third RMSCTF convention at the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) office last June 21, USTFU director Gil Garcia said former Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) Secretary Armand Fabella committed a grave mistake when he issued an erratum dated May 11, 1993, exempting miscellaneous fees from regulation

BP 232, particularly sections 42, 57, and 72, sets the guidelines for increasing tuition and other school fees as well as the decision-making authority of DECS. “In compliance with the Supreme Court (SC) decision of April 23, 1993, consultations will be required only for tuition fees. Consultations will not be required for other school fees,” the erratum stated.

At that time, the DECS still supervised institutions for higher learning until the creation of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) in 1994.

According to Garcia, Fabella cited the SC decision in a case filed in 1991 by then Sen. Jose Lina Jr. against former DECS Secretary Isidro Cariño, who issued DECS Order no. 30 that set the guidelines for increasing tuition and/or miscellaneous fees.

In that case, Lina questioned the legal authority of the DECS secretary in setting the guidelines for increasing tuition and other school fees in private schools, colleges, and universities.

The court dismissed the case and ruled in favor of Cariño. The decision, which led to the erratum, came only after Fabella assumed Cariño’s post.

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In its decision, the SC said the DECS secretary had legal authority to set maximum permissible rates or levels to which private schools can increase tuition and other school fees.

Garcia said Fabella could have misinterpreted the SC decision but the RMSCTF is wondering why the former DECS chief’s act was not questioned.

“I felt so bad while I was researching about this. It just proves how rampant the ignorance of the law among government officials is. And I am afraid that fact still applies to this time,” Garcia said.

Meanwhile, Reynaldo Flores of the Student Council Association of the Philippines, regards the discovery as good news for all students.

“It would now prevent schools from charging exorbitant fees on school facilities that students do not even use, ” he said.

Aside from discussing the issue on miscellaneous fees, the committee also finalized the amended Ched Memorandum Order no. 13 (CMO no. 13) on tuition increase.

The committee agreed to include the signatures of non-academic personnel associations and the representatives of Ched-recognized student organizations in the consultation for a planned tuition increase. Initially, only signatures of representatives from faculty unions, student councils and the school owners/administrators were needed.

They also decided to require schools to indicate the general salary rate increase during the Ched consultation for transparency purposes.

However, Atty. Mariano Piamonte Jr. of the Coordinating Council of Private Education Association-Catholic Education of the Philippines did not like the idea.

“Salary rates are supposed to be kept confidential. If other faculty associations discover about better rates of other schools, their school may suffer,” Piamonte said.

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But USTFU vice-president and Federation of Faculty Association of the Philippines secretary-general Rene Luis Tadle explained that the salary rates of schools must serve as “public knowledge” within the school.

The other committee members present in the meeting were Sonia dela Cruz (Ched-National Capital Region); Emmanuel Hizon (Movement for the Advancement of Student Power); and Raymond Egay and Yvonne Pamaras (National Youth Council).

The committee will present the amendments on CMO no. 13 to Ched Regional director Amelia Biglete on July 29 at the Ched-NCR Office on West Avenue, Quezon City. With a report from Jennifer B. Fortuno

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