By Alexandra Austria
Facing budget cuts, state universities and colleges (SUCs) nationwide will simultaneously hold protests next Wednesday against the proposed 2011 budget allocation, said Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino.
In the speech delivered at yesterday’s university strike at Palma Hall, Palatino said that this was decided in a meeting with 87 SUCs he came from earlier.
The 2011 budget allocation for SUCs is up for approval in the Senate on Dec. 1. “We hope that the Senate will listen,” Palatino said. He warned that if the Aquino administration refuses to do so, President Benigno Aquino III would do well to “learn from history,” referring to deposed President Joseph Estrada.
Estrada was the first president in Philippine history to reduce funding for SUCs. Estrada was later impeached, and then ousted in 2001.
“Kung itutuloy ang policy ni P-Noy, ang kanyang administrasyon ay babagsak din,” (“If P-Noy continues [t]his policy, his administration will go down.”) Palatino, a former University of the Philippines University Student Council chairperson (2000), said.
Palatino debunked the government’s claim that the budget allocated for education was high. He said that in reality, the funds for the “3Ds”—dole-outs, debt servicing, and the “death squad,” were higher.
“The government expects us (state universities and colleges) to be self-sustaining. The funds allocated for education should come from the State, not from the students,” he added.
The Kabataan party-list representative thanked the audience, encouraging them to invite more friends to come to the strike. “We need to be unified to fight for our right to education,” he said in Filipino. “If UP and PUP can continue the protests [for their rights], so can the other SUCs.”
The University of the Philippines is facing an impending P1.39 billion budget cut this year, prompting a multi-sectoral campus-wide strike yesterday and today.