Free tuition, passport validity extension bills await Duterte’s signature

By Alexis Romero senators-foi-signed-rodrigo-duterte.jpg

In this file photo dated July 23, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signs the Freedom of Information Executive Order in Davao. Witnessing the signing are Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. Presidential Photographers Division/Karl Alonzo, File photo

MANILA, Philippines  — Seven bills, including measures providing for free college education in state-run institutions and extending the validity of passports, are now awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

The measures were sent to Malacañang this month, The STAR learned on Tuesday. The president has to sign a bill before it can become a law.

Under the Constitution, the president has 30 days to sign a bill into law or to veto it. If he does not act within the 30-day period, the measure will lapse into law.

The seven bills that have been enrolled and sent to the Office of the President include the act promoting universal access to quality college education by providing free tuition and other school fees in state-universities and colleges. The bill also aims to provide poor but deserving students access to affordable loans and grants.

Also enrolled was the bill extending the validity of passports to ten years from five years. The measure, which is included in Duterte’s legislative agenda, will amend Section 10 of Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996

Another bill sent to the Office of the President was the measure seeking to strengthen the provision of emergency health service to patients. The bill aims to provide free and adequate emergency healthcare to patients in serious cases. It also strengthens the law prohibiting the demand of deposits or advanced payments for the confinement or treatment of patients in hospitals and medical clinics.

Also awaiting Duterte’s signature is the act establishing the free internet access program in public spaces like schools, train stations, parks, airports and public hospitals. Authors of the measure believe Internet access would allow Filipinos to find employment and business opportunities.

Another measures that has been transmitted to Malacañang is the bill extending the three-year validity of driver’s license. Under the bill, the validity of the drivers’ license can be extended by at least five years but it can be prolonged to ten years if the applicant did not commit any violation.

Other bills that have been forwarded to Duterte’s office are the measures including casino in the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act and adjusting the amount involved, the value of property or damage on which a penalty is based and fines under the Revised Penal Code. 

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