September 12, 2011
It is again the time for budget deliberations and confrontations as the Aquino administration released its budget proposal a day after Aquino’s second State of the Nation Address last July 25 and its “anti-people” orientation is again revealed by the numbers.
We speak again of the old dilemma: the bulk of the budget going to debt servicing and military spending and the budget for social services are noticeably lower and arguably insufficient for what the people need.
P357 billion is allocated for interest payments this year, making up 70% of the whole national budget. The military budget increased from 104.7 billion to 107.9 billion this year. Also, 39.5 billion is allocated for Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) – the notorious dole-out answer of the government on poverty. CCT funds were only 10.9 billion last 2010 and 29.2 billion this year.
In stark contrast, the budget for social services is on the decline. Despite a seeming increase in the Education budget from more than 200 billion to 238.8 billion this year, the 30 billion increase will mainly go for Personal Services — not as an exercise of political will, but an automatic increase mandated by the law. This budget proposal for education is way below the 6% recommendation of the United Nations and is grossly insufficient to address the shortages in books, chairs, rooms and teachers.
Moreover, the Universal Kindergarten program needs P18 billion to hire teachers for the 2.3 million 5-year old kids but the government allotted only 1.9 billion for this. The Aquino government targets to build only 45,231 classrooms out of the 152,000 shortage. Only 13,000 new teachers will be hired despite the need for 103,000.
The Aquino government also decided to slash the budget of hospitals and social services. The P44.4 billion allocated for health services is far from the P90 billion actually needed for the people’s health needs.
In essence, while the government allocates increasing budget for debt payment and military, it is unwilling to spend for education and health. This only shows the kind of orientation the government wants the national budget to take – a budget that is anti-people because of systematically neglecting social services which they should provide for its citizens.
To protest about this dire situation and to call on the government to increase the budget for basic social services like education, health and housing, different organizations from different sectors like KABATAAN Partylist and ACT Teacher’s Partylistwill hold a press conference on Friday, September 16, at UP Baguio Galeriya Kordilyera. After the press conference, a symbolic t-shirt cutting activity will be done to signify Pnoy’s budget cut on social services and call on to stop these cuts.
Then on September 26, join us as we conduct a trooping among the offices of our Congressmen all over the region. This aims to present the initial signatures gathered under the “A Hundred Thousand Signature Campaign against Budget Cuts” launched last August 25 and will continue until December 01 all over the Cordillera region. Also, we aim to earn the support of the Congressmen in lobbying for a higher subsidy for basic socials services.
We invite all members of the media to cover this event. Thank you!
Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915