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Mad rush for UP admission

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A new spectacle at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City surprised the nation and UP itself over the weekend. It is the long queues of students wanting to take the UP admissions test or UPCAT, many taking them more than half a day under the heat of the sun or intermittent downpour, with at least  dozen fainting and some rushed to the clinic or hospitals. UP officials were reported to have been perplexed with what happened with some saying they never foresaw the long lines of senior high graduates in a mad rush to enlist for the UPCAT to be able to study in the American-created university which is now one of the best universities in Asia and the world. It was estimated that more than 10,000 youth joined the queues which, for one, also created monstrous traffic within the university compound.
The phenomenal mad rush could actually be easily explained and could have been easily projected by UP officials weeks or even months before had they prepared for them. The reason or reasons for the long queues is simple - UP started administering the UPCAT without any fee to be paid by the applicants and when they pass the rigid tests, they will be entitled toe enrol in UP without paying any single centavo for tuition fee or even miscellaneous fees. This is true not only in UP but in some 200 other state universities and colleges (SUCs) as well as local univerities and colleges (LUCs) all over the county. Some 800,000 to 1.2 million students were expected to enjoy the program starting this school year.
The free tertiary education program was one of the promises of President Rodrigo Duterte and this came to effect with the passage by Congress of the bill, Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, providing for it and signed into law by Duterte as Republic Act 10931. The free tuition program actually started last year but this was expanded this year by providing free admission tests and free miscellaneous tests with allowances and scholarship for those deserving students.
 Free college education actually started in Manila initiated by the country's first "colorful" lawyer-mayor, Arsenio H. Lacson, in 1960. Mayor Lacson's untimely death allowed another lawyer mayor, Antonio J. Villegas, to pursue the program with the support of Congress which approved the creation of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and later signed into law, RA 4196, by then President Diosdado Macapagal. PLM bloomed into one of the top universities of the country. The thousands of students who are now provided the chance to study sans tuition and fees in all SUCs and LUCs should be thankful to Mr. Duterte for the opportunity. There is no other way to be thankful than to study well and graduate and become responsible citizens of the country.


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