By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
In August 24, PNoy said in his budget message submitted to the 15th congress that they are gradually reducing the subsidy to State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in order to push them to be self sufficient and financially independent. However, this was met by criticisms from youth solons, students and teachers nationwide.
In the unity statement of faculty and students in Baguio and Benguet, it was stated that the figures would best depict the travesty. The allocation for SUCs in the proposed 2011 national budget has been reduced to 1.7% or from 23.8 billion to 23.4 billion this year. Also, the proposed budget for 25 out of 112 SUCs was also decreased by as much as 23.4%.
It was also stated that the funds alloted for the University of the Philippines (UP) with a population of 52 thousand has been decreased by 20.11%, for the Philippine Normal University (PNU) is being reduced by 23.59% and for the Bicol University budget was cut by 18.82%.
Moreover, the operations budget for the SUCs was also cut by 28.16%. These, according to them are the biggest education budget cuts in history.
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) gets an increase from P96.2 billion to P104.7 billion, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gets an additional fund of P10 billion, and the Philippine National Police gets P6.6 billion more. This according to their statement is a clear evidence that the education sector and the youth are not the government’s priority.
Mark Leander, the vice president of the Student Council in the University of the Philippines – Baguio (UPB) said during the walk-out that the military does not need an additional budget because we are not facing a war or an external threat. What the country needs is a higher budget for the education sector for it to be able address the needs to more classrooms, textbooks and teachers. The education sector according to him needs at least P200 billion in addressing the said needs. He iterated that the youths are very disappointed to the said budget cut. “We hope that PNoy will correct this travesty because as he said in his 1st SONA, tayo ang kanyang boss,” he added.
Aside from the increase of fund for the DND, PNoy also alloted an additional fund amounting to P80.9 billion for debt servicing and interest payments which according to the faculty and students is the largest absolute increase in history. Moreover, pork barrel funds was increased from P10.9 billion last year to P24.8 billion this year. “As with the previous administration, we are once again disturbed by government’s misprioritization and mis-allocation of funds”, Kristie Dela Pena, the spokesperson of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), Baguio-Benguetsaid during the walk-out. She stressed that PNoy is not different from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She added that the walk-out is just one of the activities that they will be conducting to air their frustration and opposition to Pnoy’s education budget cut and their demand for greater state subsidy. Thus, she calls on every youth, student, parent and advocate to unite for the next actions. # nordis.net