Archive for August, 2011

Lawmakers, groups protest in Congress for higher social services budget


 

*news release from KABATAAN Partylist, released August 25, 2011

On the scheduled budget hearing of the Office of the President and the Department of Education today, lawmakers and members of sectoral groups protested in Congress calling for a higher budget allocation for social services like education and health.

While mass leaders were delivering solidarity speeches, the police stationed at the Congress main gate interrupted the program by firing water canon at the 300 protesters. Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond “Mong” Palatino and ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, who during the early part of the protest joined the crowd before attending the DepEd budget hearing, immediately rushed to the scene.

According to Kabataan Rep. Raymond “Mong” Palatino, “As the people grow strong calling for sufficient government spending for social services, the repressive acts of those in power will expectedly intensify. But the people, united in their hopes and principles, will not back down. Aquino government has made detrimental budget cuts to social services like education and health, while it increased the budget for Public-private partnerships, Conditional Cash Transfer, intelligence funds, and other questionable budget items. This kind of budget framework will be definitely met with bigger protests.”

Palatino cited that in the proposed 2012 budget for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), there is a P250.9 million cut to the Maintenance and Other Operating Expensed (MOOE) of 45 SUCs; P403.3 million cut to Personal Services of 58 SUCs; and zero allocation for Capital Outlay of all SUCs.

He also said that for the health sector, the MOOE of twelve major NCR-based hospitals like the Philippine General Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, and National Kidney Institute was slashed by P70.8 million. The MOOE of hospitals outside of NCR was slashed by P363.7M

On the other hand, the budget for the controversial Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) increased by 86% or P18.3 billion; the budget for Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) increased by P7.1 billion.

“Our call is for the re-channeling of funds from budget items that do not address the fundamental problems of our social services sector. The Aquino government should not focus on CCTs or PPPs and should instead fortify our social services. Doing that will benefit more Filipinos,” Palatino said.

Palatino also clarified that the boasted 15.2% or P31.5 billion increase in the budget of the Department of Education is deceiving for the increase will not sufficiently address the shortages of classrooms, teachers, chairs, and textbooks.

Palatino cited that out of the total 152,569 classrooms needed, the Aquino government only targeted 41,381 for 2012; 13,000 new teachers out of the 103,599 shortage; 2.47 million chairs out of the 13.2 million shortage; 45.5 million textbooks out of the 95.6 million shortage.

“Again, it is worth repeating, that the touted increase is not substantial to properly address the urgent needs of the basic education sector,” Palatino said.

The 2012 proposed budget for both SUCs and DepEd only translates to 3% of country’s GDP, far from the the 6% recommendation of UNESCO. The 2012 health budget, on the other hand, is a far cry from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of 5% GDP which translates to P440 billion instead of P42.7B proposed budget for 2012.

Palatino said that today’s protest marks the start of the people strikes for higher social services budget which will be staged from September 15-26, 2011. ###

 

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Support Statement regarding the closing of The Warden*


In the premises of the university, the student publication is regarded as an institution. Alongside the Student Council, the student publication must stand as the representative of the students. Through their publication issues, it must always defend and uphold the interest and welfare of the students, that which comprises the biggest part of the university’s population and serves as their publisher.

Without the student publication, the students will find it difficult to get the information relevant to their lives as students of the university. Without the student publication, the students will lose the convenient opportunity to air their sides and express their opinions regarding various issues inside and outside the campus. In sum, without the student publication, the students lose a striking, collective voice in the discourses within the university, a voice that is ideally maintained to be always at their service.

It is often the case that the student publication, ideally being at the forefront in every struggle for the students’ rights and welfare, receive uneasy treatment from the school administration. With the former championing the rights and welfare of the students and the latter usually opposed to it, there is an inevitable conflict arising between the campus press and the administration. With every anti-student policy or move of the administration, from tuition increases to no-laptops-in-school, the campus publication is always expected to raise a question, ultimately intended to make the entire studentry act on the situation. This uneasy treatment comes in various forms – censorship, withholding of funds, harassment of staff members and more – and can be collectively called as campus press freedom violations.

One of the most blatant forms of these violations is the closing of the publication, totally disabling their operation and in effect assaulting not just the rights of the campus journalists but also attacking the students which they are supposed to serve.

The Warden, the official student publication of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa has been recently threatened to be closed by the administration. The College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet strongly condemns this scenario. Whoever may be responsible for this event, we strongly condemn the act and question their violation of the rights and freedom of the campus press. We challenge them not to resort to unfair tactics like this just to silence one of the representatives of the students. This is an attack not just on the campus press but the rights of the entire students. This is an attack not just on the campus journalists’ right to free expression but also on the entire studentry’s right to information. Hence, this is not a battle not just for the staff of The Warden but the entire students. Ultimately, this is a battle that all of the students must fight for and win.

Reopen PLMun The Warden Now!

Reopen All Closed Student Publications Nationwide!

Fight for Campus Press Freedom!

CEGP Baguio-Benguet Chapter

*official student publication of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa

Tumatandang Paurong: Ang administrasyon ni Noynoy Aquino


‘Exclusion of FOI bill in Palace list irks campus journalists’


August 17, 2011

NEWS RELEASE from CEGP National Office

Reference:

 

Pauline Gidget Estella

National Deputy Secretary General

0915.335.2021

 

 


The exclusion of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the list of President Benigno Aquino III’s priority bills only shows that the government is not really intent on promoting transparency and good governance, said campus journalists.

 

“The FOI bill aims to provide a wider access to information, including that which agencies and even the government have taken great pains to hide. This is why many journalists and the Commission on Audit have been pushing for the passage of the bill,” explained Pauline Gidget Estella, national deputy secretary general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the longest-running and widest alliance of college publications in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

“However, Aquino does not seem to understand the need for an FOI bill, nor the urgency of the matter,” said Estella, explaining that without the Malacanang’s graces, the House Public Information Committee could not fast track the bill.

 

“The administration said they need more time to study the bill, but they already have decades and decades to draw lessons from. Time and again, agencies have successfully restricted freedom of information by imposing their own guidelines. There is no better time for the passage of the bill than now,” said Estella.

 

“Freedom of information is vital for the development of a society. If Aquino truly values media freedom and people’s access to information, then the government should think twice,” said Estella.

 

Campus journalists slam proposed 2012 budget as ‘anti-student’ ‘Budget fits in flawed Philippine Development Plan’



News Release from CEGP National Office

The trend of state neglect continues in the second year of President Benigno Aquino III’s term, as the proposed 2012 budget for education remains “grossly insufficient” and several state universities and state colleges (SUCs) again suffered budget cuts, said campus journalists.

 

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had recently submitted the proposed 2012 budget, in which there was a P146.57 million net cut in the allocation for SUCs. Also, not a single centavo was allotted for the capital outlay (CO), or the budget for infrastructure construction, of SUCs.

 

“Last year, the SUCs went on strike against the budget cut. Aquino did not seem to learn anything from the experience. His administration has again played deaf to the clamor for greater state subsidy,” said Trina Federis, national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest and widest alliance of student publications in Asia-Pacific region.

 

There was a “massive discrepancy” between the budget proposed by the SUCs and the amount approved by the DBM, said Pauline Gidget Estella, CEGP national deputy secretary general.

 

“In the case of many SUCs, the approved budget is always 30 to 40 percent of the proposed,” Estella explained, adding that the budget for education is only three percent of the GDP, only half of the prescribed six percent of the United Nations.

 

Flawed development plan

While SUCs were left scrimping with the meager state subsidy, the budget for debt servicing and military expenses still take up a lion’s share in the budget pie with P356.1 billion and P107.9 billion, respectively, said Cristopher Pasion, CEGP national secretary general.

 

“It has long been established that our foreign debt is onerous because it was not used for the benefit of the Filipino people. Clearly, it should be cancelled out, but the government still chooses to allot a huge portion of the budget for debt servicing,” said Pasion.

 

The budget for the conditional cash transfer program increased from P21 billion to P39.5 billion, but these “dole outs will not really address the problem of poverty and will only act as a temporary relief for the underprivileged majority,” said Pasion.

 

The 2012 budget fits in Aquino’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2011-2016, said Federis.

 

“The PDP will operate in a manner similar to Gloria Arroyo’s policies of privatization, which were patterned after the tenets of free market economics. Aquino will only repeat the policies of globalization that have further worsened the state of social services in the country and allowed unbridled exploitation of our natural resources and manpower,” said Federis.

 

 

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