Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 1359, or the No Permit, No Exam Prohibition Act, which penalizes the imposition of a “no permit, no exam” policy or any similar policy that prohibits students from taking an examination or other similar educational assessments due to unpaid tuition or other school fees.

The proposed measure covers all public and private educational institutions, including elementary and secondary schools, post-secondary technical-vocational institutes, and higher educational institutions. It also covers all individuals enrolled in the K to 12 Basic Educational Program, certificate, diploma, or degree programs of higher educational institutions, or in short-term courses offered by technical-vocational training institutes.

In his co-sponsorship speech inserted in the records of the proposed measure on Wednesday, February 22, Go noted that the “no permit, no exam policy” adds burden to parents and puts unnecessary pressure on students, who should be focused on studying.

“Kailangan po natin tanggalin ang ganitong klaseng burden sa students at kanilang mga magulang. The primary objective of schools is to provide learning opportunities for the development of the students’ intellectual, moral, physical and cultural aspects and not the other way around,” said Go.

“By imposing this unreasonable policy, schools are adding putting on unnecessary pressure to students when they should be focusing on studying,” he added.

He acknowledged that the Philippine economy is vulnerable due to natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes it difficult for students and their parents to pay tuition and other school fees especially at these trying times.

“[H]ammered by natural disasters and COVID-19, our Philippine economy remains to be more vulnerable. It is understandable that students and their parents struggle to pay tuition and other school fees,” said Go.

Under the proposed law, no educational institution, public or private, shall impose any policy that prevents students with outstanding financial or property obligations from taking examinations or any form of educational assessment.

However, the students and/or their parents or legal guardians must execute a promissory note addressed to the educational institution concerned, indicating the amount of outstanding financial or property obligations and the date when such obligation would be settled.

The proposed measure also provides authorized interventions that educational institutions may enforce against students with outstanding financial or property obligations until such time that the obligations have been settled.

However, compelling any student or their parents or legal guardians to pay a portion of the outstanding financial or property obligations before the administration of any examination or assessment will be prohibited.

Imposing fines, penalties or interests on outstanding financial or property obligations in excess of the maximum interest rate provided under the measure is also prohibited.

Educational institutions found guilty of committing any of the prohibited act will be punished by a fine of not less than PhP20,000 but not more than PhP50,000 for each case.

Go, as the chair of the Senate Committee on Health, then said that he is primarily interested in the physical and mental health of students and believes that they should not bear the burden of outstanding financial obligations.

“As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, my primary interest is the physical and mental health ng mga students natin. Dapat hindi malipat sa kanila ang burden. Lagi po natin unahin ang kapakanan ng ating mga estudyante bago ang lahat,” he said.

“Mr. President, this is the reason why I support the prohibition of imposing the ‘No Permit, No Exam Policy’. Private Higher Institutions should unburden the students of worries about their unpaid tuition and school fees ahead of taking exams which can affect their mental state,” he added.

Go has emphasized the importance of maintaining education as a top priority in the country and pledged his commitment to supporting policies that strengthen the education sector while prioritizing the health and well-being of students.

To this end, he also introduced SBN 1190 to expand the purposes and applications of the Special Education Fund, proposing its use for the operation and maintenance of public schools, payment of salaries and benefits for teaching and non-teaching personnel, competency training for teaching personnel, operation of the Alternative Learning System, and educational research, among others.

Furthermore, Go co-authored the bill that became Republic Act No. 11510, which institutionalized the ALS and improved basic education delivery to underserved and disadvantaged students, including indigenous students, those from less privileged backgrounds, and those with physical and learning disabilities.

Go also co-authored SBN 94, or the Teaching Supplies Allowance Act of 2022, which seeks to increase the annual “chalk allowance” provided to teachers to relieve them of the financial burden of purchasing school supplies for their classroom.

Also, Go has co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 1360 which seeks to expand the coverage of the tertiary education subsidy (TES) by amending Republic Act No. 10931, or the Universal Access To Quality Tertiary Education Act.

During the pandemic, the senator distributed electronic gadgets to students in need, ensuring that they had access to the necessary tools and materials for their classes and assignments under the blended learning setup.