Palace lauds country’s improvement in Global Innovation Index

The Palace welcomed on Tuesday, June 20, the improvement of the Philippines’ ranking in the 2017 Global Innovation Index report, as it climbed a notch higher to 73rd place.

During a press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the report specifically highlighted the country’s improvement in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) services export making the Philippines the lead country in this sector among ASEAN countries.

According to the Palace official, the Duterte administration, through the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, aims to have tangible improvements in the information and communications technology sector in the country to further enhance sectors such as agriculture, education, business, and other services.

Abella also announced another good news about the groundbreaking for the 18-kilometer Laguna segment of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) on Monday.

The P35.425-billion road project is expected to decongest traffic along Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway and Santa Rosa Tagaytay Road, which will lessen the travel time from Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) to South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) by 45 minutes once completed by 2020.

On donations for Marawi siege victims, Abella said P224,000 has been deposited for the families of soldiers killed-in-action and P21,000 for the evacuees from the war-torn city, as of 2 p.m. Monday, June 19.

CHED announces implementation of gov’t monetary support to students

The Palace official was joined by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Commissioner Prospero de Vera III who announced that the P8.3-billion allocation for free public higher education is now being implemented.

De Vera said implementing rules and regulations for the tuition fee assistance for undergraduate students in 113 state universities and colleges all over the country were signed last April 20.

On May 31, an additional implementing rules and regulation were signed for the P317-million fund to provide tuition assistance to medical students in eight state universities and colleges (SUCs) all over the country.

These schools are: Mariano Marcos State University in Ilocos Norte, University of Northern Philippines in Ilocos Sur, Cagayan State University in Region II, Bicol University in Region V, University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine in Metro Manila, West Visayas State University in Iloilo, Mindanao State University (MSU) in Iligan and Tawi-Tawi, and the UP School of Health Sciences in Leyte.

“The 317-million tuition assistance for medical students is unique because it provides for a return service agreement. So the students who will apply will have to give back to the country as public service,” De Vera said noting that they are expecting some 2,000 students to avail the program.

“For every year that they enjoy the tuition assistance, they have to stay in the country for one year. So it’s a one-to-one return service agreement,” he added.

Graduates can do return service in various capacities, such as residency in government tertiary hospitals, service in provincial and district hospitals or become doctors to the barrios.

According to De Vera, CHED is organizing a technical working group to draft the return service agreement for other six state universities and colleges using the UP Manila College of Medicine model.

The CHED official also announced that the implementing rules and regulations providing an additional P5,000 financial assistance to public and private students enrolled in Yolanda-affected areas has been signed.

“The Office of the President instructed CHED to expedite the use of this money. So we are ready… We are sending notices to all the public and private universities in Yolanda- affected areas that the money will be available to them,” he said adding that the appropriation of about 540 million is residual money coming from Yolanda funds that were not utilized in 2016.

Meanwhile, De Vera said CHED will be issuing in the next couple of days an advisory to all universities to immediately accept students coming from Marawi-affected areas if they want to transfer.

“This is like what we did in the case of Yolanda. We issued an advisory to the schools that they should accept transferees even with incomplete records,” he said.

He also noted that there’s no major problem right now in terms of resumption of classes in Marawi noting that classes in MSU Marawi and Iligan will start in August. ###PND