“Our fight for greater state subsidy for education continues.”
MANILA — The House Committee on Appropriations has restored the slashed budget of 42 state universities and colleges in the 2016 national budget.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon, who filed amendments to the House Bill 6312 or the 2016 General Appropriations Bill two weeks ago, welcomed the development, and thanked committee on appropriations Chairperson Isidro Ungab “for listening to the demands of our SUCs and students.”
Ungab explained that upon deliberation by the ad hoc committee, the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) budget of 17 SUCs were reduced due to the removal of funds for the “Tulong Dunong program,” while 42 were decreased due to the normative funding formula.
Ridon filed on Oct. 14 a set of amendments that sought to restore the P478 million ($10 million) slashed from the 2016 national budget for MOOE of 59 SUCs.
Noting that 27 legislators have expressed support to his move, Ridon proposed that the said funds be sourced from the P3.4 billion ($73 million) budget for the Compensation and Separation Benefits of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgu). He noted that even President Aquino, in his veto message for the 2015 national budget, called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to gradually reduce funding for CAFGUs.
“With the President expressly providing that ‘no new CAFGUs shall be recruited for training and the costs attendant to the training of existing CAFGUs shall be gradually scaled down,’ there can be no justification for the CAFGU budget’s increase to P3.4 billion in 2016. Instead, the House Committee on Appropriations should rechannel the aforementioned portion of said funds to the MOOE of SUCs,” Ridon explained.
Seeking support from the Senate
To further push for higher budget allocation for the capital outlay provision of the SUCs, Ridon said youth and students groups have been seeking talks with senators, particularly Senate Finance Committee Chairperson Loren Legarda.
In his submitted amendments, Ridon also asked for additional P4.1 billion ($88 million) capital outlay budget for 27 SUCs, including the University of the Philippines, for the construction of student dormitories, faculty housing, and school buildings, especially in state schools located in remote areas.
Ridon proposed that the P4.1 billion additional funding requirement be sourced from the item “Budgetary Support to Government Corporations – Others,” which he said was “vague” and repeats the function of the line item “Budgetary Support to Government Corporations.”
The House Committee on Appropriations has yet to decide on whether the said request will be accommodated.