Press Release
April 15, 2016


IRIGA CITY--Consistent with her promise of making quality education more affordable and accessible, independent presidential contender Sen. Grace Poe is supporting the extension of the University of the Philippines (UP) system to Bicol, one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.

Speaking before supporters at the University of Saint Anthony in Iriga, Camarines Sur, Poe seconded local officials' proposal to have a UP campus in Bicol to serve its 5.4 million population.

"Alam niyo po dapat talaga magkaroon ng UP sa Bicol. Alam niyo bakit? Sapagkat maraming magagaling at matatalino na galing dito sa inyo," said Poe, whose running mate, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, hails from Sorsogon.

Since she started in public service, the senator said she has been surrounded by bright minds from Bicol. Four of the six vice presidential candidates are from the region.

"Sa katotohanan nga, ang aking ka-tandem na si Senator Chiz galing Bicol, at marami akong mga kasama sa aking trabaho na taga-Bicol. At higit sa lahat, ang mga tumutulong sa akin ngayon, matapang, may paninindigan, taga-Bicol. Kaya tama sila, dapat may U.P. dito," she said.

The University of the Philippines is recognized as the premiere state university in the Philippines and ranks among the best in Asia. The UP system has 15 campuses all over the country and over 50,000 students.

The national government has allocated P11.8 billion to support the UP system in 2016, down from P13 billion last year. Still, UP's budget already accounts for 25 percent of the total allocation for all state colleges and universities (SUCs), which is P47.4 billion.

If she wins, Poe said her "Gobyernong may Puso" would allocate 20 percent of the national budget for priority social services, which include education.

"Sisiguraduhin ko na ang mga anak ng mahihirap, lalo na anak ng magsasaka, anak ng mangingisda, dapat libre na ang tuition sa mga state universities at colleges," Poe said.

Under a Poe presidency, indigent students would no longer pay tuition in all SUCs. Should they wish to pursue college education in a private institution, the government will give them vouchers or grants under the "study now, pay later" scheme.

Poe said this is part of her commitment to fully implement the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) law, which seeks to harmonize all publicly funded national government programs for scholarships, grants and student loans. This ensures that all Filipino students are given equitable access to quality education.

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