Iskolars ng Bayan on strike
Thousands of students, faculty and administrators march for higher budget for education, social services
In a “historic show of rage” students, faculty, and administrators from different State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) walked out of their classes, declared a strike and marched to Mendiola today to call for higher state subsidy for education and social services.
In Manila, 10,000 Iskolars ng Bayan from University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Philippine Normal University, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology, Rizal Technological University, Marikina Polytechnic College and Technological University of the Philippines walked-out from their campuses and marched to Mediola to call for greater state subsidy for SUCs.
A historic march was launched by the UP Diliman community which they dubbed as “Isko Tsunami Walk,” but theirs was more daunting than Shamcey’s signature strut, as they braved the heat and traveled more than 13 kilometers from Quezon City to Manila.
Strikes, campus walkouts and mass planking activities also took place across the nation. In UP Baguio, 600 students walked out of their classes and planked along session road. Students also walked out and protests in La Union. 3,000 students walked out in Bulacan State University. In UP Los Banos, hundreds of students planked in front of the Oblation.
Students from Bicol University also staged protest activities. Up to 1,000 students walked out in UP Visayas in Tacloban and Western Visayas State University in Iloilo. Actions were also held in Cebu and Lanao.
The nationwide protest was led by broad alliance Kilos na Laban sa Budget Cuts, backed also by faculty and administrations of state universities and colleges nationwide. Leading the movement are youth organizations Anakbayan, National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Kabataang Artista Para sa Tunay na Kalayaan, and Kabataan Partylist.
The huge participation of students and SUC community clearly show that the youth and people are extremely fed up and will not allow another round of budget cuts and misprioritization.
The students and youth stood up as Iskolar ng Bayan and pag-asa ng bayan. The action was both a wake up call and a warning. The people will no longer tolerate a government which chooses not to provide adequate education and health services for its people.
Thousands planked at Mendiola, in what could may be a record breaking feat to bring accross the message that the Aquino government should stop ‘planking’ ala-tuod and should take steps to provide education and social services.
It should be reiterated that in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2012, P21.8 billion was allotted for 110 SUCs, far from the more than P45 billion requested by the SUCs. This is lower than the this year’s SUC budget of P22.03 billion. Fifty schools will have their total budget slashed by a combined P569.8 million, 45 will have cuts in their MOOE funds by P250.9 million, and 58 will have cuts in Personal Services (PS) by P403.3 million. Budget allotted for Capital Outlay is zero.
The basic education budget of P238 billion is likewise insufficient which will in real value amount to only P6.68 per Filipino per day spending. The UN recommended is 6% of the GDP which is at P550 billion.
Budget for health services meanwhile is at P44.4 billion, far from the P90 billion proposed by the health sector and the P440 billion recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Health spending for every Filipino is at P1.20 per day.
Meanwhile, the Aquino government have increased the military budget by 9.9 % to P114.4 billion. Last year, pork barrel funds have been increased by P10 billion. They have a P39 billion budget proposed for dole-outs from only P10 billion in 2010. Billions of ‘intelligence’ and PPP funds are inserted. These should be realigned to social services. Mas mahalaga ang libro kaysa bala, edukasyon kaysa kurupsyon, buhay ng mamamayan kaysa kita ng iilan.
The wrong priorities show a clear “defect” in the elite, haciendero-led social system under the Aquino administration, which should be dismantled and changed. During the march, the crowd was chanting: “Aquino, pahirap sa masa, tuta ng Amerika!”
The message was beyond the budget cuts issue: the youth and people want social change, real change, not loose change. The Filipino people should wake up to the reality that nothing will change unless they rise up and defend their rights and fight for real change. We have been waiting for so long, we have been played for fools for so long, and they will keep doing so. It’s time we strike back.
Bigger actions are being prepared in the next few months to push Congress and Senate to reject the 2012 anti-people Aquino budget. We should anticipate the Senate hearings and the bicameral conferences and do whatever it takes to fight for the peoples’ rights and increase budget for social spending.
Meanwhile, the Aquino government should stop making up excuses and stop trying to cover up their crime. Instead, it should take immediate steps to realign funds from military, debt, corruption spending to education.
‘Wag na silang magpalusot, lalo lang maiinis sa kanila ang kabataan at bayan.