Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Manifestation delivered in the plenary of the House of Representatives on September 11, 2012. Thanks to Marjo and @kabataanpl

In the past two years, the Aquino administration has imposed drastic cuts in the budget of state universities and colleges. It didn’t even allot capital outlay funds to SUCs which are needed to upgrade and modernize our school facilities.

But in the past two years, we also witnessed the dramatic and unprecedented show of unity of SUCs in demanding higher funding for public tertiary schools. For the first time, students joined their teachers and school officials in staging various forms of protests and lobbying actions to force the Aquino government to reverse its policy of gradually reducing subsidies for SUCs.

Schools organized campus assemblies, lectures, rallies, and even concerts to demand more funds for the education sector. Some students and teachers wore white ribbons while others conducted campus strikes and camp-outs near DBM and the Malacanang Palace.

And because of this solidarity which exposed the anti-poor, anti-education, and anti-development features of the Aquino budget, the government relented by agreeing to release more funds for SUCs this year through the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program. And in the proposed 2013 budget, there is a reported increase in the budget of all SUCs.

At nagbunga po ang ating pagkakaisa at ngayon ako po ay nagpapasalamat at nagbibigay ng mataas na saludo sa lahat ng mga mag-aaral, guro at pamunuan ng SUCs na hindi natinag at tuluy-tuloy na lumaban para sa mataas na pondo sa edukasyon.

However, Malacanang and DBM should not brag the reported increase in the SUCs budget. The P37.1 billion proposed budget is still grossly insufficient if we consider the total proposal of SUCs for 2013, which adds up to P54.6 billion.

The DBM-proposed budget for SUCs is only 67.98 percent of the total requirement of 110 SUCs. DBM data also reveal that the P37.1 billion DBM-approved budget for SUCs next year is actually P17.5 billion less than the actual need of SUCs.

Also note the low percentage approved for capital outlay (CO), the fund for the construction of new infrastructure, approving only 22.5 percent or P3.37 billion of the P14.96 billion originally proposed, despite the fact that DBM has not been giving CO to SUCs in the past two years.

The Commission on Higher Education itself admitted that the budget for SUCs is still insufficient. In a statement released on August 17, CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan said, “The 2013 SUCs budget may not be enough. But it is a substantial increase and is good for now.”

I am urging CHED and DBM to review the criteria in determining the budget for SUCs, including the categorization of SUCs based on the Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform.

Under this system, the government puts higher funding for top-performing schools, despite the fact that many schools are ‘underperforming’ precisely because of lack of ample government support.

Padding the budget in a manner which does not address the needs of state schools is not what the youth demanded. The youth will not accept this cover-up budget. We will continue the fight for sufficient state subsidy – from the august halls of Congress up to our schools and communities.

Related article: 2011 speech on the budget of state schools

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