Teachers and students of state universities and colleges have called on the Senate to restore the P6 billion slashed from SUC’s budget in 2024, and instead realign some P9 billion in confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) of several government agencies to the education sector.
Under the proposed 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives last September 27, SUCs will be allotted a total of P100.8 billion, lower by P6.155 billion from this year’s P107 billion.
The protesters from UP Diliman and Manila campuses, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Philippine Normal University, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute for Science and Technology, and Technological University of the Philippines simultaneously held rallies on November 14, in time for the Senate’s plenary debates on the SUC’s proposed 2024 budget.
They lamented that capital outlay, which covers long term development of school facilities, equipment, and other institutional investments, will suffer the largest cut under the proposed budget.
Instead of decreasing SUCs budget, the Senate must abolish the CIF of several government agencies and realign the amount to the education sector, they asked.
“The government has the money, but it chose to prioritize the nontransparent and unaccounted CIF over the welfare of our youth and the future of our nation. The CIF now faces two cases before the Supreme Court for unconstitutionality,” said Carl Marc Ramota, University of the Philippines System faculty regent and chairman of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.
“The P6 billion budget cut on SUCs is a big blow to the operations of our public universities, which, as they were, are already stretched beyond their limits,” he added.
Despite it being common knowledge by now that the country’s education is still in shambles, with Filipino students from all levels having been quantitatively left behind by their peers from most of the developed world, why is it that education doesn’t seem to be a priority during the critical budget season?
The Philippines is not a poor country, as its people can see from the billions that our public officials can so easily earmark for confidential and intelligence funds, spread out among several government agencies that have nothing to do with national security, public funds that by their secret and unaudited nature makes it rife for corruption. What makes us a poor country is a government that allows the improper use of the people’s money on the wrong priorities and turns a blind eye to various sources of corruption.
When can we at least spend a little bit more on education to make the next generation smarter? Don’t our leaders want that to happen?*