A columnist described Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno as the most political among those who held the position of governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Another columnist -- Marlen Ronquillo of the Manila Times -- described him as an enemy of agriculture for his consistent disparaging ideas on agri and food production, pushing for importation of grains and meat at every opportunity.
Well, to me, Ben is the source well of weird ideas, such as his proposal to impose additional taxes on sweets such as candies and cakes, and also on salty snacks.
Ben Diokno also previously proposed a screening test before accepting students in state universities and colleges (SUCs) in response to the number of dropouts in SUCs every year.
Another of the finance sec's weird ideas.
The verbal proposal has been met with criticism from groups who stressed that students from low-income households depend on the government’s free education program to complete their tertiary studies. As such, they need all the assistance the government can give.
Such competitive screening to filter the number of beneficiaries of free higher education would disadvantage marginalized students, it was pointed out by Ben's critics.
Deprived Right to Education
The Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) expressed concern over the possible loss of access to higher education among those without resources to enroll in private universities.
“Not only would such a move be detrimental to the entire Filipino youth but it would also disproportionately impact young Filipino women, robbing them of their fundamental right to education,” the CWR said.
“Compared to public institutions, private universities and colleges typically charge higher tuition fees. As a result, it becomes more difficult for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds to afford quality higher education,” the group added.
It was also observed that state universities and colleges accept a limited number of students due to their small absorptive capacity or limited facilities.
Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party) said that adding more requirements in the free higher education program “goes against the principles of equality and social justice.”
"Instead of questioning the sustainability of free tuition, Secretary Diokno should focus on ensuring adequate funding for education and addressing the root causes of the rising dropout rate,” Brosas said.
Meanwhile, data validates the finding that more Filipino high school students can advance to college after the enactment of the free higher education law in 2018.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian noted earlier that the progression rates from high school to college improved to an average of 81 percent from 2018 to 2022 compared to just 54 percent and 62 percent for Academic Years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, respectively.
The CWR correctly pointed out that the most effective approach for the government to tackle the high dropout rates is to retain the free tuition policy and improve the quality of education.
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