Sunday, September 7, 2014


MANILA-Senator Sonny Angara has filed a bill that seeks to grant discounts on food, medicine, educational expenses, such as tuition, miscellaneous and other school fees, including books and school supplies, to underprivileged students in all levels throughout the country.
"Even with the system of scholarship grants and student loan programs provided by the government, not all deserving and underprivileged get to finish their education because they lack the financial capacity to spend for their basic needs or other expenses related to their schooling," said Angara, who is a known advocate of educational reforms.
"Our bill aims to ease the financial burden of underprivileged students and help them cope with the high cost of education and daily school expenses," added the former chair of the House committee on higher education.
Among the benefits provided by Senate Bill 2385 include a five-percent discount on food establishments, medicines, textbooks and school supplies, and on entrance fees to museums and cultural events.
All qualified students will also be entitled to a five-percent discount on tuition fees, miscellaneous and other school fees granted by public and private schools where they are enrolled in. This discount would not preclude underprivileged students from availing other educational assistance provided by the school and the government.
"Considering that we now have a law giving discounts to senior citizens, it is high time that we consider the plight of our underprivileged students who are our nation’s future," said the lawmaker, who is also an author of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act.
Under the proposed measure, underprivileged students are eligible to get discounts if their parents have a gross annual income of not more than P150,000. Working students can also be qualified if their income combined with their parents' annual gross income would not exceed P150,000.
The Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, in coordination with the National Economic and Development Authority, are tasked to screen applicants and identify who are the eligible students.
They will also issue the discount cards which will be valid anywhere in the country as proof of eligibility.
SB 2385 further provides for tax incentives to establishments that would grant discounts to underprivileged students.
On the other hand, establishments that would refuse to grant discounts would be penalized with one to four-week suspension of their license to operate and would be fined with not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000.
"When I studied in the UK, I saw the benefits of having student discounts on various services to defray the expenses of the students. Naniniwala akong mas higit na kailangan natin itong ipatupad sa ating bansa upang maibsan ang kahirapan ng ating mga estudyante at ng kanilang mga pamilya at para mas mapalawak pa ang kanilang oportunidad na makaahon sa buhay," Angara said.

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