Youth solon questions DBM proposal to obtain higher ed funds anew

Press Release
Sept. 28, 2010

Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino today questioned the proposal of the Department of Budget and Management to state universities and colleges (SUCs) to avail of the Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) to augment their meager budget instead of calling for higher state subsidy.

In a DBM memo to President Noynoy Aquino obtained by Kabataan Partylist, DBM Secretary Butch Abad said instead of increasing the subsidy of SUCs, the government can utilize the HEDF allocated to Commission on Higher Education to augment the budget of cash-strapped SUCs. During the CHED budget hearing yesterday, however, CHED officials revealed that P 103.17 million was slashed from the HEDF.CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan further stated that the data on higher education the DBM is using is “poor” and “erroneous”.

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“How can the DBM propose that SUCs can avail of the HEDF when in the first place, it slashed the said budgetary item? Clearly, our budget managers ran out of sensible and factual excuses to justify its abandonment of education. You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time,” he said.

Palatino earlier slammed Abad’s statement during the nationwide walk-out of students last Friday. The DBM head said that SCU budget for 2011 increased by 11.3 percent contrary to President Benigno Aquino’s budget message that they deliberately decreased budgets by 1.7 percent. The young lawmaker reminded Abad that only the personal services increased due to the new salary standardization and that there was no increase for the maintenance and other operating expenses and the capital outlay.

Palatino also said “no less than the CHED Chair herself confirmed that the cash balances the SUCs are holding on to came from the students themselves.”

Further, the CHED budget deliberations only showed that the crisis of the education sector will continuously aggravate since the net decrease of the CHED budget is P 843 million. Proof of the additional blow to the youth is the P 650 million budget cut on student financial assistance which provides for the scholars of CHED and the P 103 million slash for the various HEDF projects. HEDF finances projects such as scholarships, fellowship programs and research.

“These webs of lies, inconsistent statements and data only disprove the government’s claim that it prioritizes the education sector. This state abandonment truly shows that the new administration is not even committed to send the youth to school. Abad should’ve gone to Mendiola during the walk-out, it would be a great help for him to visualize reality and end fabricated illusions that money can be pulled from whichever funds he could lay his eyes upon,” he added. ###

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