Students from the two state universities in Davao City will continually stage protest actions to denounce the proposed budget cuts for state universities and colleges (SUCs) and to register their dismay over what they believe as the irresponsibility of the Aquino administration towards the welfare of the youth.
The University of the Philippines-Mindanao and the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) are among the 25 SUCs that will experience large reduction in the subsidy next year, with UP having the highest cut amounting to 1.39 billion pesos. USEP ranks fourth with a subsidy reduction of 44.39 million pesos.
In UP, members of the student council, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the League of Filipino Students (LFS) are determined to assert the youth’s right to education and to protest to express their disappointment over the government’s crooked education policies, especially the budget cut.
Krista Melgarejo, student council chair of UP Mindanao and NUSP-Davao City spokesperson, stressed that Pres. Aquino has not remained truthful and consistent with his commitment to give more attention to education by allotting to it the 6% of the GDP.
This budget cut proves that the Aquino administration is violating the constitutional provision that quality education must be made accessible to all citizens. “This is an insult to the students especially to those branded as “Iskolars ng Bayan” who are supposed to be studying in SUCs for free,” Melgarejo said.
Similar thing happens in USEP. The student council and the student publication of USEP held forums and candle lighting activity related to the issue. Anne Lomboy, the editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Headlight, the student publication of USEP, expressed disappointments.
“Apil sa mga saad ni P-Noy ang paghatag og dakong pagtagad sa edukasyon aron kuno matumang yud ang atong pagsubay sa ” matuwid na daan”. Pero wala ko na kasabot ngano ingonani ka gamayang budget para sa 2011. Nangiskwela gani mi sa state university aron makatuonog sakto bisan sa kalisud. Aron molambo ang Pilipinas, dapat buhaton [ni P-Noy] ang tanan aron ma-edukar ang mga Pilipino,” Lomboy told Atenews.
Meanwhile, Pres. Aquino said in his message on the 2011 budget that the gradual reduction in the subsidy of SUCs is to push the SUCs to become self-sufficient and financially-independent, given their ability to raise their income and to utilize it for their programs and projects.
Youth leaders from Kabataan Partylist (KP) believes that this action of the government is part of the neo liberal framework of economy giving way to the easy deregulation, liberalization and privatization of state-owned institutions, including schools. According to KP leaders, the youth partylist is doing legislative measures in the congress to fight for the welfare of the sector. KP also initiated activities discussing the State of the Filipino Youth and the highly commercialized, colonial, repressive and elitist Philippine Educational System.
The government could not blame students should we become aggressive in our expression of disapproval to the anti-student policies. It is the government that gives us the justification to protest, to assert for our legitimate democratic rights as students. They have money for militarization, they have money for debt servicing, but why can’t they allocate more for education? Why the budget cut?, Melgarejo added.
While the effect of the budget cut is more painful in the SUC’s, private schools like the Ateneo are not exempted from the burden. Ateneans must also be concerned with the issue of budget cut. This is not just the problem of the public schools because this is just a reflection of the rotting educational system that we, whether from private or public school, are to face. This is not just an issue about schools but also an issue about the youth, said Maureene Ann L. Villamor (AB Psych 3), spokesperson of Gabriela Youth.
Besides UP-Mindanao and USEP, several SUCs in Mindanao joined in the nationwide protest actions against budget cut. Cotabato City State Polytechnic College, University of Southern Mindanao, and the Western Mindanao University also protested. NUSP, KabataanPartylist and other militant youth organizations warned the government of the continued youth mobilizations until the educational problems are given due attention.