1 March 2007
"The lifting by CHED of the tuition cap to appease school owners reeks of Malacañang's intervention and we students will stop at nothing to ensure that this injustice is corrected."
This was the statement today of the National Union of Students of the (NUSP) secretary-general Alvin Peters when he revealed plans by the students to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) against CHED's Memorandum from the Chairman which lifted the tuition cap provided for by the amended CHED Memorandum Order No. 14 (CMO 14) last week.
"We are infuriated that the government agency that is supposed to safeguard the right of the students to quality and affordable education has turned its back on the students for the umpteenth time."
Earlier this week, the Commission on Higher Education had made public the suspension of CMO 14 and its subsequent amendments while restoring CMO 13, series of 1998, as the guidelines for tuition fee increases for the next school year.
"The students' hard-won gains in their campaign for a genuine mechanism of tuition and other fee regulation, has suffered a major setback because CHED has chosen to kowtow to private schools' interests."
Peters claimed that fierce lobbying by private school groups like COCOPEA (Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations) and CEAP (Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines) resulted in CHED's capitulation, thereby suspending the amended CMO 14 and as a result the tuition cap based on the inflation rate. Peters further alleged that Malacañang may have had a hand in CHED's action, saying "it is a grave possibility and one we are looking closely at, that powerful private school owners might have petitioned the President herself to intervene in the matter of the tuition cap."
"The CHED can no longer deny the reason behind the dubious suspension of CHED Memorandum Order number 14 and its amendments, which provides that tuition and other fee increases should not be more than the current inflation rate," Peters said.
"It is clear as the sun that COCOPEA has exerted undue influence and pressure for the removal of the tuition hike cap by claiming it "has affected their competitiveness and has prevented them from improving their facilities," he added.
Peters vowed that the NUSP together with other national youth groups such as KABATAAN Partylist and the College Editors Guild of the would resort to legal moves to enforce a moratorium on tuition and other fee increases for the next school year while CHED reviews its memorandum.
"We demand a freeze of all tuition and other fee hikes for Academic Year 2007-2008 while the matter of the CMO 14 is unresolved," Peters said. ###