CEAP Holds Press Con on UQTE and TRAIN 2

September 24, 2018

PASIG CITY – Representing the voices of its nearly 1,500 private school members, the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP) held a press conference to air its discomfort in recent policy legislations, particularly the improper implementation of RA 10931 or the Universal Access on Quality Tertiary Education (UQTE) and the removal of the tax exemption on for profit private schools in the second package of the Tax Reform Package (TRAIN 2). The said press conference was held last  August 18, 2018 at Café 1771 in Pasig City.


CEAP was represented by its President, Fr. Joel Tabora, and his assistant, Atty. January Faye Risonar-Bello; CEAP legal counsel, Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada; Executive Director, Jose Allan Arellano; and, Advocacy Officer, Atty. Roselle Perez-Bariuan.


CEAP communicated its dismay on the lack of regard of the private sector in the two legislations, citing sharp decline of enrollees in various private institutions as a result and the struggle to compete with government funded and assisted educational entities.


Fully Implement UQTE


Atty. Estrada clarified that they are not calling for the halting of UQTE implementation, instead they are calling for its full implementation, “Actually, it’s not to stop something from being implemented, we’re pushing for its full implementation. At least yung TES (Tertiary Education Subsidy), that is the subsidy for the students in the private higher education and the (student) loan program,” he said.


Currently, P8.3 billion was added to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) budget, to begin the implementation of the free tuition program. However, Congress has yet to fund the TES aspect of the subsidy for students enrolled in private education institutions and the student loan program. The lack of budget is seen to be one of the causes for the sharp decline of enrollees in the private educational institutions.


CEAP, in a statement read by Atty. Bello said, “The objective or RA 10391is laudable, that of making quality education accessible for all. However, the mechanisms implementing the law make “accessible quality education for all” more of an empty slogan rather than a reality. As the demand for higher education become stronger, the State will be increasingly unable to afford the provision of “quality” higher education for all. (Falsely, the impression given is that it can.)“ This becomes a looming problem as the way the law is currently implemented also hurts the private educational institutions, which supposedly complements for any shortcomings of the government under the constitutionally recognized relationship of complementarity in education.



Complementarity in Education


Article XIV, Sec 4 (1) of the Philippine Constitution provides that, “the State recognizes the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system and shall exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions”.


Fr. Tabora, CEAP President argues, that the complementary character of education is seemingly being eroded by the improper implementation of the UQTE. CEAP cites that, “In Metro Manila alone, private schools along university belts have experienced lower student enrollees. Only about 60-70% based from their 2015-2016 enrollment data has been met in terms of number of enrollees this school year. There are currently 1,935 HEIs in the country, of which 1,708 (88%) are private and 227 (12%) are public. Fr. Tabora further laments, that added to this, the government’s increase of salary of teachers beyond the market rate, due to the salary standardization law, has also caused the mass exodus of their teachers to the public sector, ”I think it is fair to us to say,”, he said.


CEAP also aired the need to clarify the policy of the UQTE and ensure that those who can afford their education should pay for it and only those who cannot should be fully assisted.


In its final remark, CEAP closed its statement in reiterating its call for complementarity. Free education in SUCs is only PART of this universal accessibility to tertiary education promised by RA 10391. The law likewise allows the economically “qualified” (i.e. the financially in need beneficiaries) the choice to enroll in a private HEI of their choice by way of the TES and the LOAN FUND provisions.


Sadly, this has not been given timely attention nor fiscal prioritization – much to the disappointment of the private HEIs who have long clamored for State funded assistance to deserving students who wish to enroll or remain in private HEIs. This despite the fact that private education complements government capacity across all education levels. In the tertiary level, for example, by 54.3% compared to its state counterpart. This fact must be seriously taken into consideration in the formulation of guidelines and appropriation of funds for RA 10391’s TES and Loan Fund accordingly. To do so would not only be a nod to the symbiotic relationship that exists between public and private schools, but it would acknowledge the essential role of private education in making quality higher education accessible to all. “



TRAIN 2 Derail Complementarity


UQTE is not the only policy initiative that has affected or yet to affect the private education sector. The proposed second package of TRAIN 2 will remove tax exemption from “for profit education institutions. While exact details of its implementation are still pending, private schools have already aired their sentiment, Atty. Estrada said that the move would pose more challenges to schools, given the struggles in the transition to K to 12 program and the implementation of free tuition in state colleges and universities (SUCs).

The organization said that private education complements the government’s capacity from elementary (9%), secondary (20%), senior high school (46%), and tertiary education (54.3%). Moreover, private schools provide majority of the supply for programs under science and technology, accountancy and business, and humanities and social sciences.


Private Fulfills its Role


Atty. Estrada pointed out that the private sector is adequately performing its complementary role, ” First, private education complements government’s capacity from elementary (9%), secondary (22%), and senior high school (46%), to tertiary (54.3%). For SHS, private institutions provide majority of supply for ABM, HUMMS and STEM. For Tertiary, private HEIs provide majority of supply (more than 50% of students) in CAR, NCR, and Regions 11, 12, 4, 10 and 3. Second, private higher education account for more Centers of Excellence or COEs and Centers of Development or CODs in Engineering, ICT, Health, Teacher Education. Third, quality of faculty is also comparable with 13% Doctorate, 40% Masters and 45% Bachelors; and The performance in licensure exams between the public and private HEIs on average, from 2005 to 2015 are likewise comparable,“ he said. And even if it were otherwise, Congress is not in the proper position to remove the tax exemption mandated by the Constitution.


CEAP, thus clarifies its stand on the matter, “non-stock non-profit educational institutions like those established by religious organization and foundations are exempt from income tax when their revenues and assets are actually, directly, and exclusively used for educational purposes as provided by the Constitution, no less. It cannot be taken away by a bill passed by Congress.


However, CEAP also supports the position of proprietary or profit educational institutions for a STATUS QUO on tax incentives currently enjoyed by them at 10% preferential tax rate.


We do not subscribe to the proposal that tax incentives must be conditioned upon compliance with performance criteria to be determined and evaluated by the Commission on Higher Education and Department of Education.”