Thousands of students are poised to be affected by budget cuts to SUC's for intelligence funds. Photo courtesy of ONE News.
State universities and colleges (SUCs) faculty and students reaffirmed their demand for Congress to bring back the P6.155 billion budget cut, which affected 30 of 118 SUCs and has put emphasis on eliminating the "excessive and unnecessary" confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) of many government agencies, on Thursday, October 19.
Initially, said concern was filed as a resolution by Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel and the other members of the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives and was co-authored by one of the budget sponsors of SUCs, Caloocan Rep. Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy last September.
The leaders of the SUCs indicated that the Philippine Higher Education System "has been in crisis for a long time" after remembering how the COVID-19 pandemic's school closures had a "negative impact on the quality of learning for students at all levels."
The bicameral conference between the Senate and House of Representatives which will discuss the projected P5.768 trillion national budget for 2024 is set to be conducted next month.
Meanwhile, SUCs will be granted a P100.8 billion budget under the proposed 2024 General Appropriations Bill, which was adopted on third and final reading by the lower chamber on September 27. This amounts to a decrease of 5.75 percent or P6.155 billion from the P107 billion allocation for this year.
The unity statement released by SUC faculty members and student leaders further pointed out that President Marcos' declarations of increased funding for the Free Higher Education Program is contradicted by the budget cut and rendered "meaningless.”
“Excessive and unnecessary CIFs should be redirected to revamp our educational institutions in the sustaining efforts to recalibrate and provide long-term holistic learning to Filipino youth from all walks of life,” it added.
The statement also implied it is more crucial than ever for the Philippine government to acknowledge, respect, and defend the Filipino people's right to education. As such a right is essential, everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic condition, should have access to it.
Signatories to the unity statement were mainly professors, student regents, and associates from Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of the Philippines, Institute of Science and Technology, and Philippine Normal University among others.
The P6.15 billion budget cut, once restored, can assist the SUCs in regaining their “public character” in addition to guaranteeing substantial support for student services and faculty development.