Rep. Romulo graces CARASUC socio-cultural festival, UniFAST law reinforced
By Jaylord A. Agpuldo

      The Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universities and Colleges (CARASUC) takes pride in having Pasig City Rep. Roman T. Romulo-the author of the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act-as the guest of honor and speaker during the regional socio-cultural festival held in MPSPC, Bontoc campus last October 26-27, 2015.

"The Cordillera Administrative Region is so proud and honored to have for a guest a great man backed by an elite education. Sharing descent and brilliance with the late grandfather General Carlos P. Romulo, and his father, Alberto Romulo his accomplishments mirror the broad spectrum of his concerns," said CARASUC Chairperson, Dr. Nieves A. Dacyon in his introductory speech.

"Truly a public servant, our guest of honor and speaker is so keen in having felt the thirst of the masses for education and hence, has sponsored/authored bills upholding quality education while making it accessible in the myriad of priorities," Dr. Dacyon affirmed.

"I express my gratitude for the passion of the Rep. Romulo and the members of committee on higher and technical education with these initial initiatives in democratizing education," Dacyon also added.

Romulo, as the Chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education,initiated for the passingof the UniFAST Act finally signed by President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III last October 15, 2015 through Republic Act 10687, among other equally significant laws he authored and co-authored such as the Ladderized Education Act, Open Distance Learning Act and the Iskolarng Bayan Acts which he championed during the said event.

In closer look, the UniFAST Act is an indispensable supplement to the recently enacted Iskolarng Bayan Act which aims to reward and acknowledge the excellent performance of the top ten graduates of the almost 8,000 public high schools nationwide through free tuition and miscellaneous fees upon enrollment in any of the 113 state universities and colleges in the country.

In a press release, Romulo said that the benefits under the UniFAST Act are very broad and can be availed of not only by students who excel academically or those with special talents, but also by those who need financial assistance to complete their college or technical-vocational education in any of the country's public and private schools and regardless of their ranking in class. He noted that the financial assistance programs under the UniFAST law include scholarships based on merit, grants-in-aid for poor students and marginalized sectors, and student loans for those with liquidity problems, but with capacity to pay in the future.

"Through the UniFAST, students who want to study will have access to financial assistance for them to pursue tertiary education in public or private higher education institutions numbering almost 2,000, as well as the various short-term technical-vocational schools under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority," said he in his speech.

Further, under the UniFAST law, the faculty can pursue their masters and doctoral degree through scholarship grants either in the country or off-shore. Romulo works on the enactment of laws that for greater access of more Filipinos to quality education by pushing for the passage of bills that will provide discounts to underprivileged students, as well as free college entrance examination, promote quality assurance in higher education institutions, and ensure campus safety and security to which the CARASUC pledged their support to these pending bills in an education forum held after the opening program of the regional event.

Moreover, Romuloagrees with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Balisacan, who previously stressed that investing in education is one way by which the country can achieve inclusive growth.

"It has always been my commitment as a representative of the Filipino people to ensure that all Filipinos of school age from all walks of life are given full expanded education opportunities. That is why we must explore all possible avenues to promote tertiary education so that poverty will no longer be a bar that will prevent any Filipino from attaining the proper education that he is entitled to. I want to see the day when it will become impossible for a properly educated Filipino to remain poor. He may not become rich but he will not be wanting," he concluded.

Romulo obtained early schooling at the Ateneo de Manila, moved on to the prestigious University of the Philippines -Diliman and earned his bachelor's degree in Economics and Bachelor of Laws.

He is also a conferred Doctor of Public Administration, honoriscausa at the Lyceum Northwestern University, Dagupan City and Doctor of Humanities, honoriscausa, at the University of Baguio. He trained at the International Development Law Institute in Rome, Italy in September, 2000.

He is the grand-nephew of Filipino statesman, Pulitzer Prize winner and first and only Filipino President of the United Nations General Assembly Carlos P. Romulo, and the son of former Executive Secretary, Secretary of Finance, Budget Secretary and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo.

As a public servant, aside from education, he shows interest in areas across human welfare and technology and has sponsored and/or authored bills to address these concerns. He is a member of several house committees such as Constitutional Amendments, Economic affairs, Human Rights, Information and Communications Technology, Metro Manila Development, Revision Of Laws, Science & Technology, Veterans Affairs & Welfare. He is also a member of catholic and civic associations.

Romulo is happily married to a former Valenzuela council member Shalani Soledad, who stunned the crowd and kindled several of camera flashes, in her attendance the said event. The UniFAST will be governed by a Board composed of the heads of CHED, DOST and TESDA as co-chairs, with the head of DepEd and representatives from DOLE, NEDA and NYC as members. The Board, with the support of a technical secretariat, will ensure program sustainability and safeguard student welfare. It will see to it that standardsetting, client- targeting, fund allocation and prioritization are based on supply/demand situations, prices and inflationary factors, the government human resources development plan and current trends in internationally-shared human resources.

Earlier in October 21, 2015, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) welcomed the passage of the said bill in a manifest signed by Chairman Patricia B. Licuanan. The Commission hails it as a Landmark Social Legislation of the Administration benefiting Filipino youth. Other details of the law will soon be provided in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

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