TACLOBAN CITY- About 5,000 students in Yolanda-stricken Eastern Isaias are to benefit from proposed bill pending at the Senate. The bill, dubbed as Iskolar ng Bayan” bill and sponsored by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano aims to provide better opportunities for poor families and their children. Sen. Cayetano called on his colleagues to support his bill which he said would provide quality education to almost 5,000 students in Yolanda-stricken Eastern Isaias every year if enacted into law. “This is one issue we could all agree on, no matter what political color you carry: that access to quality education is a right, not a privilege, even in the tertiary level. Let us provide Filipino families, especially the poor, the kind of education that would make their lives better,” Cayetano said in a statement. Senate Bill No. 2275, otherwise known as the Iskolar ng Bayan bill, mandates for all state universities and colleges (SUCs) to give automatic admission and scholarship grants to the top 10 public high school students of their respective graduating classes.

It has been approved on third reading by the Senate and has recently hurdled the appropriations committee at the House of Representatives. Under the measure, SUCs are expected to grant free tuition and other school fees to the Iskolar ng Bayan in all SUCs. “According to the latest data from DepEd, there are a total of 495 public high schools operating in Region 8 for school year 2013-2014. That is roughly 4,950 students in the region’s six provinces who are sure of going to college if this measure is made law. That means 4,950 families in Eastern Isaias who were devastated by super typhoon Yolanda last year will have a chance of waking up to a better future,” Cayetano stated. Statistics from the Department of Education (DepEd) show that 20 public high schools are located in Biliran, another 243 are in Western and Eastern Samar, and 232 others are in Leyte and Southern Leyte, giving the Eastern Isaias region a total of 495 schools which will produce 4,950 top graduating high school students. “Let us show them that they are still our number one priority by approving measures like the Iskolar ng Bayan bill; measures that will directly address the Filipinos’ daily problems.” Cayetano said the enactment of this measure becomes particularly important now that the PDAF (priority development assistance fund) has been abolished by Congress, leaving some 400,000 scholars on their own to fend for their schooling.