PASAY CITY -- A Philippine Airlines (PAL) top official said the plan of the National Government to utilize portion of its P6-billion payment to fund the education of students in local and state universities and colleges is a good move.
PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista, in an interview with reporters from Bacolod City at his office here, said it is the prerogative of the government where to use airline’s payment.
Earlier this month, the flag carrier settled its financial obligations that included unpaid navigation fees to the government that date back from 1970’s until July 30 this year.
PAL paid in check worth almost P5.68 billion to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) prior to the December 2017 deadline. Another check worth about P258 million net of taxes was turned over to Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).
“It is a good move if they intend to use it for good reason,” Bautista said. “We support education.”
Last August, President Duterte signed Republic Act 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which grants free tuition to all SUCs and LUCs in the country amid having unclear source of funds yet.
Duterte, in a report, said he signed the bill into law to provide all Filipinos with equal opportunity to quality tertiary education and give priority to academically able students who come from poor families.
The House of Representatives earlier allocated P40 billion for free tertiary education in more than 100 LUCs and SUCs in the country next year.
The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) started implementing the free tuition law on second semester, earlier than the initial implementation plan next year.
Some 113 SUCs in the country have already started the program, including 64 in Western Visayas.
Of these SUCs in the region, four are in Negros Occidental.
These are the Carlos Hilado Memorial State College (CHMSC) in Talisay City, Northern Negros Institute of Science and Technology (Nonescost) in Sagay City, Central Philippine State University (CPSU) in Kabankalan City, and some of their extension campuses.
An extension campus of the Philippine Normal University (PNU) in Cadiz City also started to implement free tuition this semester.
Aside from funding free education, the Malacañang said PAL's settlement will also fund the government’s Universal Health Care initiative and other priority programs that are still pending in Congress.