Students bring fight for higher budget to Senate; Senators urged to allot funds for schools hit by typhoons
It’s “hell week” for students with exams, final papers and everything “toxic” but hundreds still marched to Senate yesterday, October 4, to make sure the call for higher budget is heard in the upper chamber.
Youth, students, faculty and administrators lobbied and marched as hearings on the budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) begin.
Inside the Senate, students and leaders held a white ribbon protest together with administrators and urged Senators to increase funds for SUCs and education. School presidents also presented their case for a higher education budget.
Outside, a march was held by hundreds of students from UP Manila, UP Diliman, Polytechnic University of the Philippines and other SUCs.
Student leaders asked senators to reverse the ‘tragedy” Malacanang has inflicted upon schools: alloting “grossly inadequate” funds for SUCs.
The protesters also took note of the fact that not a centavo of capital outlay funds will be alloted to the more than one hundred SUCs nationwide.
May bagyo o wala, parang dumaan sa trahedya ang mga schools dahil sa kawalan ng pondo. Paano pa ngayong may bagyo?
True enough, many schools have been devastated by the typhoons since years ago, and yet no funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction of classrooms and buildings are allotted. How are these schools going to operate? The senators should take this into consideration and allot capital outlay for SUCs not only to cope with the disasters but to accomodate more students to SUCs.
Some of the SUCs affected by typhoons and flooding in Central Luzon are Aurora State College, Bulacan State University, Pangasinan State University.
The march was also a statement that the students will not be lied upon and will not be fooled by claims of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Malacanang saying SUC funds have been increased by 10%. These funds supposedly added were not “directly” allotted to schools and will be under DBM and Malacanang’s control.
Fact is that the National Expenditure Program submitted to Congress clearly shows a decline in direct spending for SUCs, MOOE, personal services slashed and zero capital outlay alloted. The funds are lump-sums alloted to DBM and CHED and may even be used as pork barrel of these agencies. The Senate should see through the lies and cover ups of Malacanang and correct the crime DBM and Malacanang has committed.
Senators Koko Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano, Bong Revilla, among others, have expressed their support for the fight for higher budget for SUCs.
Senator Pimentel, who spoke at the rally, ecnouraged the protesters and told them to continue to be vigilant. “This is part of democracy. If not for the protests, gov’t wouldn’t really pay attention to the need of our schools,” he said.
Pimentel promised to submit amendments to the 2012 proposed SUC budget and asked the students for concrete proposals.
More protests are being organized in the next few weeks: bigger protests, strikes and mass actions are being coordinated and expected to culminate again come November, when plenary and bicameral meetings are set.