UP community holds strike, calls for higher budget for education, health and social services
Thousands of students, faculty, administrators and staff walked out of their classes in University of the Philippines – Diliman (UP Diliman) yesteday, September 21 and declared the start of a three-day campus strike in protest of low budget for education, health and social services.
Colleges were shut down as thousands marched along the UP academic oval, barricaded the University Avenue and sang the campus hymn UP Naming Mahal in front of the Oblation. A fashion show dubbed as “Budget Couture” was also featured at around 7pm.
UP President Alfredo Pascual, UP Diliman Chancellor Saloma and at least sixteen college deans supported the fight for higher budget for UP and education and signed the unity statement of UP Kilos Na Laban sa Budget Cuts, a broad alliance spearheading the strike.
“We are alarmed that state support for education under President Aquino is diminishing in measures, and deteriorating in quality. Amidst the low wages of the Filipino workers and the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services, it is high time to ensure that fundamental education does not become a further burden to the ordinary Filipino,” said the statement.
UP President Pascual and Diliman Chancellor Cesar Saloma also joined the march.
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 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. Budget allotted for Capital Outlay is zero.
For the University of the Philippines system, P1.16 billion was slashed 2010 and 2011, and an additional cut of P200 million is pending for 2012, bringing down the UP system budget from P5.75B to P5.54B — an allocation that amounts to only 32% of the UP budget proposal of P17.07B.
The UP strike is part of a week-long nationally coordinated “strike back” of about a hundred State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) nationwide against cuts in their budget and calling for greater state subsidy for SUCs and education.
A day before, up to 8,000 students of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) walked out of their classes and marched around their campus together with their administrators. The PUP strike continues today with “teach-ins” and “alternative classes” to be held in front of the campus gate.
In UP Manila, meanwhile, a different kind of protest — a dodgeball tournament against budget cuts – was held in preparation of their own campus strike, which will start tomorrow. Various actions were also held in Philippine Normal University, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology, Rizal Technological University and other state universities and colleges.
The students also said this was their way of commemorating the anniversary of Martial Law “by embodying the activism of the earlier generation of young people which fought for social change.”
The iskolars ng bayan started the strike in defiance of a government which chooses to abandon education in favor of corruption, foreign and military spending. They barricade the school gates for several days so that many may still be able to enter them and afford education in the future.
Student Regent Krissy Conti said that the strike is part of the UP students’ “intergenerational responsibility,” fighting not just for themselves but for the nation and the future generation.
Also in the program were Representatives Teddy Casino, Mong Palatino and JV Ejercito.
A big march to Mendiola will be held on Friday September 23. The UP community is expected to conduct a historic march from UP to Mendiola which they called “Isko Tsunami Walk,” in allusion to Shamcey Supsup’s Miss Universe walk.
This should serve as a wake-up call on Congress and the Aquino government to rechannel funds from military, corruption and dole-outs to our schools and hospitals. Student protest these past few days are preparations for bigger actions to make sure that the Aquino government does not get away with a weng-wang budget which the people doesw not want and need.
– From Philippine Collegian
– From UP