By PAUL SAMBAT and DELIA BAGNI
BAGUIO CITY — Students of the University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) and other schools joined the nationally coordinated walk-out to demand greater state subsidy to state colleges and universities on July 18, 2012.The rain did not stop the members of UPB Context, Cadua, Alliance of Concerned Students (ACS), Anakbayan-UPB chapter, and Outcrop students’ publication among others from marching down from their school campus, Session Road to People’s Park. Around 600 students participated in the protest activity.
According to Regis Delos Rios, Anakbayan-UPB chairperson, the walk out is a symbolic action to oppose the latest tuition fee increase and budget cut on education.
UP student council Vice-Chairperson Forst Galang said that the walk-out is a big manifestation of unity among students of the universities in the pursuance of affordable and quality education.
He added that education should be accessible, there has to be an increase on the budget for education, a stop to tuition fee increase, scrapping of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) and other demands of the students be heard. He said that the government should shoulder the fees of college and universities. “The students should not be the one to pay for all the tuition,” he said further.
The allocation for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the national budget has been reduced to 1.7% or from 23.8 billion in 2011 to 23.4 billion this year. The proposed budget for 25 out of 112 SUCs was also decreased by as much as 23.4%.
Carlo Ipac of ACS cited an Article 14 of the Philippine contstitution stating “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.”
“Saan pupunta ang mga kabataan kung tataas ang tuition fee? Ang K+12 na programa ng presidente? Ang K+12 na yan ay ginagawang cheap labor force ang mga kabataan. Malaki ang potential ng mga kabataan sa pagpapaunlad ng bansa” (Where will the students go if the tuition fee continously increases? K+12 is making the youth a cheap labor force. Theres the big posibility that the youth is the key for the development of the country) says Ipac.
Meanwhile, Jessa Paquibot Editor-in-Chief of Outcrop, said that the TFI and budget cut are not the only problems that the SUCs are facing. According to her, reppression of campus press freedom is another problem that SUCs are facing.
Paquibot was sued by a UP instructor for libel. She said her case is a form of repression on student journalists. “This is not only my fight but the fight of all student journalists who suffered from reppresions and harassment. We, student journalists, should know our rights. And we are ready to defend it when needed.” She said that her case is still ongoing, the College Editors Guild of the Philppines (CEGP) gave their full support to her as well as the National Union of Journalist in the Philippines (NUJP). NUJP Secretary General Rowena Paraan came to Baguio to show their support and to help Paquibot.
The students said that if these TFI’s and budget cut continue, the students are not afraid to oppose it and they will organize more student actions to stop it . They will not stop until they achieve a lower tuition fee and a higher education subsidy. # nordis.net