BAGUIO CITY (July 24) — The youth sector here is obviously not pleased with what Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivered yesterday on her seventh State of the Nation Address (SONA). They said it was nothing but deceit.
In a discussion right after watching Arroyo live on national TV, leaders of progressive youth groups said she has left out a lot—especially about education—unanswered. According to them, she instead gave the youth false hopes by boasting that there are more to expect on education.
“But her statements are based on the wrong premise,” said John Panem, coordinator for Kabataan Party-list in Cordillera. “She forgot to mention that the University of the Philippines had just had a historic 300 percent tuition increase this year because of poor budget allocation,” he said, adding that this has not gone through a democratic consultation within the UP system. “There’s a big problem when the president disregards these drastic moments in her term,” he said.
According to Panem, even the removal of the tuition cap and the sudden change of the guidelines for student consultations are the mistakes of the president. He said they have documents showing that Arroyo signed an agreement with private school owners which removes students’ rights to consultation on tuition increase.
Also mentioned in Arroyo’s speech was that instead of creating new high schools, she gave more budget for scholarships in private high schools.
Anjo Cerdeña, chairperson of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines chapter here, thinks however, this is misleading. “In redirecting the education budget to scholarships, the fake president makes it appear as if education should be granted only to those who deserve it. She forgets that education is everyone’s right and everyone deserves it. This is total abandonment of government responsibility,” he said.
Meanwhile, Arroyo’s pride in what she calls ‘human resources investment’ irked Anakbayan national Vice-chair for Luzon Antoni Karl Riva. He said the creation of one million jobs was based mostly on labor export and jobs like those in call centers. “For one, this is just a bubble economy. It will not be here for long. Second, these jobs do not answer to the needs of the Filipino people. These services are rendered to foreign investors which she is so proud of. What help does it give Juan dela Cruz?” he said.
The youth groups said they are currently finishing their study on the real situation of the Filipino youth and the real situation, which according to them, is a long way far from Arroyo’s SONA. From here, they said they will continue and intensify the campaign for a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education. # Finella Mejia for NORDIS