UP community holds “unity march” for higher education budget, strike set next week
As transport groups set their strike against oil price hikes, students, faculty and administrators are also gearing up for campus strikes next week to protest oil price and fare hikes as well as cuts in government spending for state universities and colleges (SUCs) and other services.
Despite the heat, many wore black in the University of the Philippines (UP) yesterday as hundreds of students, faculty and administrators, including UP Diliman Chancellor Ceasar Saloma and college deans, held a “unity march” against government plan to reduce subsidy for UP and SUCs.
In a program conducted at the Palma Hall lobby today, UP KILOS NA LABAN SA BUDGET CUTS, started its 8-day countdown before the start of the systemwide strike next week dubbed as “UP Strikes Back!”
Earlier, a unity statement signed by 15 College Deans and hundreds of administrators, students, and student formations, the signatories expressed that they are “alarmed that state support for education under President Aquino is diminishing in measures, and deteriorating in quality.”
UP President Alfredo Pascual has likewise called for higher budget allocation for UP and SUCs and said that the current budget allotted to UP is “unacceptable.” Pascual encouraged students, faculty, staff and alumni to “make their voices heard” in the call for increased budget appropriation for UP and other SUCs.
The Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), the national organization of all SUC presidents and administrations, also released a statement earlier calling for an increase in the budget for state universities and expressed their willingness to fight to “effectively drumbeat the need of SUCs for a sufficient budget increase.”
A week long protest, which will include several days of campus strikes will be held in SUCs nationwide on September 19-23, to protest the slash in government subsidy for SUCs for 2012. This will mean a halt in operations of campuses for several days.
Student organizers say that if the government doesn’t want to fund the SUCs, it would be an imperative to stop the operations temporarily to make a strong statement against government neglect. Indeed, we cannot let the government again get away with a budget that is not the change that the Filipino people want and need.
In the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2012 or the budget proposal submitted by the Aquino government to congress, 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 million. 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.
The youth and student groups are geared towards linking up with transport groups to protest oil price hikes and train fare hikes. The strike of the students must unite with the struggles of the different sectors and must confront not only local campus concerns but must address the plight of the people.
The government inaction in the face of continuing abuse of the oil cartel is deplorable. The planned increase in MRT/LRT and rising transport and living costs may cause an increase in drop-out rates. Organizers of the upcoming campus strikes are also issuing calls to stop to oil price overpricing and fare hikes.
Today, Sept 15, a coordinated day of protest is set in various schools today against oil price hikes, MRT/LRT fare hikes and budget cuts. Students from UP Diliman, UP Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), and students from the University Belt area in Manila are expected to hold various noise barrage and youth activities.
The iskolars ng bayan are striking back.
(Photo by Airnel Talatala Abarra, Philippine Collegian)
(From UP Kilos Na)
(Spotted: Regent Bibeth Orteza, Student Regent Krissy Conti, Dean Roland Tolentino. From UP Silip)