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.