September 21, 2010
In a radio interview, Senator Joker Arroyo said that “President Benigno Aquino III’s administration is running the country like a student government”.
“Describing the administration of President Noynoy Aquino as a Student Government-run administration is basically an insult to the student leaders. Many student governments certainly are run better than the present administration. ” said Vanessa Faye Bolibol, Secretary General of the National Union of Students of the Philiipines (NUSP).
The NUSP is a nationwide alliance of more than 650 student councils/governments/unions committed to the advancement of the students’ democratic rights and welfare. Established in 1957, the NUSP has been consistently at the forefront of the students’ struggle for their rights and in solidarity with the Filipino people’s struggle for social justice and meaningful change in society. Just recently, NUSP celebrated its 53rd anniversary.
“Unlike the present administration, student councils live to its mandate by being the representative of the student body in guarding their rights and interests. Student Governments remain true to its principle in ensuring that access to a quality and accessible education should be guaranteed. It is disappointing that the current administration is not doing its job to safeguard our right. Instead, the government is abandoning us by reducing subsidy to State Universities and Colleges,” Bolibol added.
State Abandonment to Education
On the other hand, NUSP agrees with Senator Joker Arroyo when he said that the “Palace’s budget priorities for next year are ‘misaligned’ and ‘lopsided’”.
The figures would best depict the travesty. The allocation for SUCs in the proposed 2011 national budget has been reduced by 1.7 percent, from P23.8 billion in 2010 to only P23.4 billion this year. The proposed budget for 25 out of 112 SUCs has also been decreased by as much as 23.5%. There is a P1.1 billion (28.16 percent) decrease in the operations budget for SUCs. All but 15 SUCs have cuts in their operating budgets (MOOE) some by as much as 50%. These, by far, are the biggest education budget cuts in history.
The Aquino administration has also adopted the previous regime’s zero allotment for capital outlay for SUCs. In the proposed P23.4 Billion for 2011, no funds have been earmarked for the procurement of new equipment, nor for the repairs, construction and improvement of facilities.
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) gets an increase from P96.2 billion to P104.7 billion, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gets an additional P10 billion and the Philippine National Police (PNP) P6.6 billion more. As we see it, the education sector and the youth are clearly not this government’s top priority.
There is, more disturbingly, a significant increase in patronage and corruption-prone funds. Pork barrel funds have increased from P10.9 billion in 2010 to P24.8 billion in the proposed 2011 national budget. Dole-out funds will enjoy a whopping P29.2 billion. Ironically, lump-sum funds have been allotted for “public-private partnership support” when the president promised that so-called PPPs would lessen costs incurred by the government.
MRT/ LRT fare hike
More so, this administration wants to implement policies that will give additional burden to the students. This October, the administration is planning to increase the fare of MRT and LRT. “This move will definitely hurt the students. Hirap na nga ang mga estudyante na iraos ang araw-araw na pangagailangan sa eskwela, tapos tataasan pa ang pamasahe. Dagdag pasanin na naman ito sa mga students at sa aming mga magulang at maaring magdulot sa pagdagdag sa bilang ng mga kabataang hindi makapagtapos sa pag-aaral,” Bolibol said.
“Leadership requires committed and determined leaders. By committed, we refer to the unwavering stance to uphold the democratic aspirations of the people. And determined, we refer to the consistency and willingness of a leader to realize by all means the goals set by the administration. No leadership can be of utmost significance other than the one that is responsive to the demands of its constituents. And right now, we can’t see that kind of leadership to President Aquino,” Bolibol said.
At present, the NUSP together with the different student governments/councils nationwide is campaigning against education budget cut and to stop the MRT/ LRT fare hike. The largest Student Union also supports the call of the Hacienda Luisita farmers for their land. “The youth’s future is ours to advance and defend as the government led by President Aquino has clearly made up its mind to leave us,” Bolibol said.
Vanessa Faye Bolibol