Baguio Students Walk Out of Classes to Denounce Education Budget Cut

By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat.com

BAGUIO CITY — More than a hundred students from several universities here walked out of their classes to show their disappointment over the Aquino government’s budget cut to the education sector.

In his budget message submitted to the 15th Congress, President Benigno S. Aquino III said his government is gradually reducing the subsidy to State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in order to push the latter to be “self sufficient and financially independent.” However, this was met by criticisms from students and teachers nationwide.

The allocation for SUCs in the proposed 2011 national budget has been reduced to 1.7 percent or from 23.8 billion to 23.4 billion this year. Also, the proposed budget for 25 out of 112 SUCs was also decreased by as much as 23.4 percent.

The fund allotted for the University of the Philippines (UP) with a population of 52,000 has been decreased by 20.11 percent, the Philippine Normal University (PNU) budget is being reduced by 23.59 percent and Bicol University budget was cut by 18.82 percent.

The operations budget for the SUCs was also cut by 28.16 percent. These, according to them are the biggest education budget cuts in history.

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 fund of P10 billion, and the Philippine National Police gets P6.6 billion more.

Mark Leander, the vice president of the Student Council in the University of the Philippines – Baguio (UPB) said during the walk-out that the military does not need an additional budget because the country is not facing a war or an external threat. What the country needs is a higher budget for the education sector for it to be able to address the shortage of classrooms, textbooks and teachers, he said. Leander said that the education needs at least P200 billion in addressing the said needs.

“We hope that Aquino will correct this travesty because as he said in his first SONA that we are his boss,” Leander added.

“As with the previous administration, we are once again disturbed by government’s misprioritization and mis-allocation of funds”, Kristie Dela Pena, the spokesperson of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), Baguio-Benguet said.

Aquino also allocated an additional fund amounting to P80.9 billion for debt servicing and interest payments. The fund for the so-called pork barrel was increased from P10.9 billion last year to P24.8 billion this year.

Dela Pena that PNoy is not different from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She added that the walk-out is just one of the activities that they will be conducting to air their frustration and opposition to Aquino’s education budget cut and their demand for greater state subsidy. (Northern Dispatch/Posted by Bulatlat.com)

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