Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 18      June 11-17, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











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CHEd Admits Issuing Flawed Memorandum

The Commission on Higher Education admitted that private schools have been invoking its Memorandum Order No. 14 to bypass the required consultations before effecting increases in tuition and other fees. Because of this, it said that it is open to amending the memorandum.


Hugas-kamay ang CHEd.” (The CHEd is evading responsibility.)

This is what the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) believes as it stressed that the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) Memorandum Order No. 14 is used as an excuse to bypass consultations before effecting increases in tuition and other fees.

The CHEd admitted that private schools have been invoking the said memorandum and that it is open to amending the memorandum. 

But NUSP said it is too late for CHEd to recall the order because at least 196 or 13.73 percent of the 1,428 higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country have been given the go signal to raise their tuition.


In a joint hearing, the Committees on Higher and Technical Education, and Basic Education of the House of Representatives berated the CHEd for its apparent refusal to forward pertinent documents during yearly hearings on tuition increases.

As early as 2004, committee member Rep. Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna (people first) asked the commission to submit a 10-year report on tuition hikes since CHEd’s inception in 1996 to aid the committee in determining the extent of tuition increases. The committee also asked CHEd to furnish it with copies of financial statements of HEIs.

The report has not yet been submitted as of the committee hearing last May 31.

The committee, headed by vice-chair Harlin Cast-Abayon (1st district Northern Samar), said that it would issue a subpoena to the CHEd should it fail to submit the needed documents by Wednesday.

Casiño said the CHEd has not been taking the committee hearings seriously and that its officials refuse to answer the queries of students.  He said that if this persists, it may be better to create another body that would best safeguard the interests of concerned sectors.


Marco delos Reyes, chair of NUSP, reiterated that Memorandum Order No. 14 has been bleeding the students and their parents dry since its implementation in June last year.

The new memorandum replaced Memorandum Order No. 13. The latter stipulates that all application for increases should pass through consultations with sectors concerned. Memorandum Order No. 14 allows tuition increases without prior consultation if the adjustments are within the prevailing inflation rate, now at 7.6 percent.

In 2004, delos Reyes said that according to his group’s data, CHEd had approved fee adjustments even beyond 12 percent.  Last year’s average inflation rate, said de los Reyes, was six percent. This year he said, 458 or 32 percent of the total number of HEIs have applied for fee adjustments beyond the 7.6 percent prevailing inflation rate.

The committee said that CHEd has been “playing games” with the cap.  It noted that during the past three years it has been approving rate adjustments by schools up to 100 percent, even without proper consultation with stakeholders.

Vague policy

Of the total number of HEIs in the country, 194 or 13.59 percent applied for tuition increases beyond the set cap. The National Capital Region account for the biggest number of schools, at 269, applying for tuition hikes beyond the inflation rate.

Region I, comprised by the Ilocos provinces, with 79 HEIs, recorded the highest percentage increase at 20 percent amounting to an increase of P324.88 ($6.11 at an exchange rate of $1=P53.17) per unit. 

But the 269 schools in NCR, which applied for increases, maintain the highest average hike at P863.71 ($16.24) per unit or 13.44 percent.

This year’s average tuition increase is at 12.82 percent translating to some P350.10 ($6.58) per unit.

This figure, noted Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Liza Maza does not yet include HEIs that increased their miscellaneous fees instead of tuition, or both.

De los Reyes said that the CHEd is ill-equipped in monitoring those that had increased their tuition beyond the inflation rate.  He said that the CHEd is only paying “lip service” when it announced that it would impose sanctions on schools violating the memorandum.

Maza said that Memorandum No. 14 runs counter to Presidential Proclamation No. 232, which requires consultations for all types of increases in school fees. This, Maza said, is irregular since a mere memorandum cannot supersede a law.  Maza is seeking a review of the memorandum.

Not retroactive

Romeo Isaac, CHEd director on policy, planning, and research, said that amendments to Memorandum No. 14, which will be a new issuance, could only take effect by the following school year. He added that over 200 schools are about to implement their respective adjustments.

Isaac said that the commission is open to new rounds of talks regarding amendments to the measure.

Casiño is pushing for House Bill 4449 that seeks to create a Private School Fee Regulatory Board.  The Board will be tasked to regulate tuition and fees adjustments by HEIs.

The bill also provides that HEIs will not to be allowed to exceed a 6 percent return on investment. It also mandates that 70 percent of the approved increase will be allocated to upgrading teachers’ salaries while 30 percent will be used as additional capital outlay.

Delos Reyes said that militant youth groups are supporting the bill. He said that the CHEd, since its establishment, has consistently earned their ire “for having been co-opted by big school owners.”

“We see the CHEd as a vehicle of school owners for bleeding the students dry.  Worse, students don’t even get their money’s worth.  The most affected are poor students who strive hard to access quality education but eventually fail due to sky-high fees of schools,” he said. Bulatlat

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