PIDS to review govt’s free-tuition policy

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) will soon conduct an evaluation of the Duterte administration’s free- tuition policy as it seeks to conduct more project evaluation studies in the next four years.

Newly installed Pids President Celia Reyes, who is the first female head of the government-run think tank, told the BusinessMirror in an interview that the review of the free-tuition policy was requested by the Pids Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees includes Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, who sits as chairman, and members Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla of the Philippine Center for Economic Development and the University of the Philippines School of Economics and former Pids President Gilberto M. Llanto.

“The board has requested that we also take a look, even if it is still at the very initial stage, an evaluation of the free-tuition program. We need to look at the actual impact both in terms of the budget implications, as well as impact on the private education sector, and whether the poor are actually benefiting from the program,” Reyes said.

Apart from project evaluations, Reyes said that, in the next four years of her term as president of the Pids, the think tank will also focus on forging linkages with research institutes abroad.

Recently, she said the World Inequality Laboratory, led by economists from the Paris School of Economics and University of California Berkeley, approached the Pids for possible research collaboration.

Reyes said this is an opportunity for the Pids to learn new research methods and approaches, as well as increase its exposure in doing collaborative research that will allow the Pids to look beyond the Philippines.

“In particular, I’d like to promote global partnerships. This means working with international research institutions outside the Philippines and doing collaborative research. The other is enhancing the research process within Pids,” she said.

“As there has been a big demand for Pids research outputs, we should ensure that we provide very good policy recommendations and we can do this by enhancing the research process,” she added.

Last Thursday Reyes took her oath as the sixth president of the 40-year-old think tank. She is the first female president of the Pids and will take over the reigns from Llanto, who will become part of the Pids Board of Trustees.

Reyes specializes in the field of econometrics and has conducted and published numerous research and policy papers on poverty assessments and evaluations of social-protection programs.

She is also the network leader of the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS), providing free technical assistance to local government units in the country in the implementation of the CBMS. The CBMS is a local poverty-monitoring tool she developed under the Micro Impacts of Macroeconomic Adjustment Policies project.

As an expert in poverty research, Reyes has been engaged as project leader and resource person in various consultancy projects of international organizations, such as the Asean Secretariat, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Development Programme, Australian Agency for International Development, Canadian International Development Agency, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, International Development Research Centre and World Bank, among others.

She has also served as president of the Philippine Economic Society in 2011 and has been an adviser to various national government technical working groups on poverty monitoring and indicator systems in the country since the early-1990s.

Reyes is currently the chairman of the interagency committee on poverty statistics convened by the Philippine Statistics Authority, as well as the editor in chief of the Philippine Journal of Development, the Pids’s multidisciplinary social-science journal that publishes policy-oriented studies and researches on development issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

Reyes is a cum laude graduate of Bachelor of Science in Statistics at the University of the Philippines and has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

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A professional journalist for over a decade, Cai U. Ordinario currently writes macroeconomic and urban development stories for BusinessMirror. She has received awards for excellence in reporting on the macroeconomy and statistics. She was also cited for her contribution to statics reporting by the National Statistical Coordination Board (now the Philippine Statistics Authority). She is a recipient of journalism fellowships including the Jefferson Fellowship from the Honolulu-based East West Center. She is currently completing her Masters degree in Communication at the University of the Philippines. She graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts Major in Journalism from the University of Santo Tomas.