Youth groups protest education budget cuts

MANILA, August 4, 2011—As second semester of the Academic Year 2011 – 2012  is at nigh, different student and youth groups trooped the Congress today to press the lawmakers to increase the budget in education and to stop the slashing off the budget allocated for state universities and colleges (SUCs). 

Students from major public universities in Manila such as the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), the University of the Philippines-Manila Campus (UPM), the Philippine Normal University (PNU) and the Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) marched at the main gate of the Batasan Pambansa (House of Representatives/HOR) in Quezon City, to protest the continued neglect of the government on the education issues particularly with the inadequate funding and privatization of SUCs.

Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chair said in a statement that the Benigno C. Aquino III administration had already slashed the budget of 50 SUCs this year by P569.8 million, as reflected to the proposed budget submitted to the Appropriation Committee of the HOR.

Crisostomo said that the allocation for SUCs had a huge decline, from P22.03 billion in 2012.

Continued decline of SUC budget, alarming

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), the largest alliance of student governments in the country, meanwhile said they are very much alarmed and bothered on how Pres. Aquino is spending on education as the budgetary allotment for SUCs continues to decline.

“No words can express our anger over this new round of budget cut in SUCs. State Schools are suffering from poor and dilapidated facilities, our teachers our overpaid and underpaid, and millions of youth are out-of-school because state schools can’t accommodate them anymore. Where does the government expect SUCs to get money to improve our education?” says Einstein Recedes, NUSP national chair, in a statement sent to CBCPNews.com.

Meanwhile, the League of Filipino Students (LFS) said that the education sector had been plagued with a deepening crisis as the government allows profit-oriented companies and institutions to “capitalize” in the education sector.

Palace, CHED connive with education ‘profiteers’

Aki Merced, spokesperson for the LFS said that it seems that the Palace and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) had been conniving with local and foreign profiteers in making education elusive for Filipino students.

“The CHED and the Palace [seems to be] have been spokespersons of the capitalist-educators earning billions each year. Despite [the] calls to regulate tuition—all in the good intention of bringing education closer to millions of poor Filipinos, the Palace and the CHED is firm in siding with the businessmen. Add to this the budget framework of this government that steadily cuts down on social services to pass on to the private sector the job of providing social services to the people. Logic would tell us they’d run these services like businesses. There is no doubt that the people’s basic rights would be more distant to Filipinos now,” says Merced.

Economic policies have something to do with education—LFS, INERD

She also assailed the economic platform of the present government by saying that it’s “pro-imperialist” or “pro-White House”.

“Under his Philippine Development Plan for 2011-2016, he will continue and worsen the import dependent and export oriented character of our economy. Aquino has no plans of developing our own economy, to strengthen the agriculture sector and empower local industry. He plans to keep our economy dependent on Foreign Direct Investment and our employment dependent to the jobs offered abroad. He plans on making Filipinos merely consumers and employers serving foreign interests to the benefit of imperialist countries parasitic on our workforce and natural resources. He plans on debilitating our economy towards extreme levels,” she explains.

Furthermore, the continued Diaspora of Filipino professionals and semi-professionals are also evidence of the total submission of the country’s leaders and bureaucrats to the dictate of the world’s economic superpowers, theUnited Statesand other countries that belong to the “First World” category of the current geopolitics.

““Each day, 4040 Filipinos are forced to leave the country in search for greener pastures. Welcoming them is unequal treatment, lack of job security and even brought to the point of begging for food. This is the state of the millions of OFWs. The reason they left is because they can’t find livelihood in our country and instead of addressing this problem, Aquino has continued the export orientation of our labor force pushing even our basic education system to serve the purpose of supplying semi-skilled workers to accommodate foreign need through his K+12,” furthers Merced.

Meanwhile, Prof. David Michael San Juan of the independent think-tank Institute for Institute for Nationalist Economics and Republican Democracy (INERD) says that it seems that in the list of Aquino’s priority list, education is omitted.

“Tamang-tama ang pahayag ng Pangulo [noong SONA (state of the nation address)] na “(a)ng budget po ang pinakamalinaw na pagsasabuhay ng ating tuwid na landas…” Gayang nabanggit na, sinundan ni Noynoy ang yapak o footstep ni Gloria sa isyu ng pagbibigay ng prayoridad sa pagbabayad ng utang sa pambansang badyet at pagkakaltas ng badyet o budget cut saedukasyon at kalusugan. TUWID NA DAAN, dere-deretso sa daan ni Gloria [Arroyo] (The president’s statement in his 2nd State of the Nation Address is very appropriate, when he said that the budget is the clearest proof of real life application of the straight path [motto]… As we have mentioned, Noynoy is following the footsteps of [his predecessor] Gloria on the issue of prioritization of debt servicing while slashing off the budget in education and health),” the young La Sallian professor said in his critique on P-Noy’s social service platform.

Nevertheless, as Crisostomo of Anakbayan said, “[Since] the Aquino government has just declared war on youth and students, [therefore] he must prepare for heightened protests.” (Noel Sales Barcelona, for CBCPNews.com)

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