by Alexandra Gabrielle Francisco and Dean Lozarie
The University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) administration yesterday demanded an increase in the proposed budget for the university, but its stand on whether the university is facing a budget cut remained unclear.
The University Council (UC), composed of UPD’s administration and tenured faculty, issued its official stand on the issue in a meeting at the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG).
According to Prof. Elizabeth Enriquez, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the faculty could not agree on whether there was a budget cut in the university or not, but they decided to forgo the “nitty-gritty” and unite for more state subsidy.
Meanwhile, protesters who rallied in front of NCPAG on their second day of strike against the budget cut had different opinions regarding the statement.
Kabataan party list secretary-general Vencer Crisostomo called it a “welcome development,” adding that what mattered was that the UC was united with the students in their call for higher budget.
“Mas makakahati pa sa unity natin kung mag-aargue tungkol sa technicals,” Crisostomo said.
Meanwhile, former Student Regent Cori Alessa Co said that it is not enough for the UC to call for security in the university’s budget. She said the university should make its stand clear against the P1.39 billion budget cut in the university.
“Nililinlang lang nila ang primary stakeholders ng pamantasan,” Co said.
It is clear that the university is facing the biggest cut to its budget, Co added.
‘Long-term budget reform’ needed
The UC calls for a “long-term budget reform” where state colleges and universities are assured of sufficient budget.
“Kailangan ay pinakamataas ang prayoridad sa edukasyon sa budget ng ating estado,” said Enriquez.
In the statement, the UP faculty and administration opposed a budget that does not meet the needs of state college and universities (SUCs).
According to UPD Chancellor Sergio Cao, the P18.5 billion budget UP proposed is not even enough for the university to become a research university, said Enriquez.
Quoting Cao, Enriquez said, “If we are going to be truly a research university, yung hinihingi natin ay kulang pa.”
The UC hopes that the statement will move legislators and President Benigno Aquino III to increase the budget for all SUCs.
University Student Council chairperson Rainier Sindayen said the statement was good news, despite lacking an acknowledgement of the biggest budget cut in the UP’s history.
“Ang hamon ko sa ating university administration and faculty ay sumama, kasama ang mga estudyante, ngayong hapon sa Mendiola at sa December 1 magmartsa kasama ang mga SUCs sa senado,” said Sindayen.
From NCPAG, protesters headed to Mendiola to join other SUCs calling for a higher budget for tertiary education. They called on students to join the mobilization to the Senate on December 1, when the Senate will be approving the national budget for 2011.
Enriquez said the UC could not agree on whether there was a budget cut because some faculty argued that many items in the 2010 budget were “non-recurring items,” projects that do not need continuous funding.
In an earlier interview, Sindayen cited the National Science Complex, a research facility in the College of Science, which is two-thirds complete, as examples of these projects.
However, UP needs more funds for other infrastructure projects like the reconstruction of the Chemistry Pavillion, which burned down in June, refurbishing of dormitories and construction of buildings at the UP Manila School of Health Sciences in Baler, Aurora, Sindayen said.
UP also needs more funds to maintain its facilities, said Sindayen, citing the decreasing allocations for Maintenance and Other Operation Expenses (MOOE) for the university.
Income generating projects
Sociology professor Sarah Raymundo said President Benigno Aquino III should reassess his budget if he wants to prove that he values the Filipinos’ welfare.
In his October 19 statement, President Aquino said UP may have been experiencing a “slight” decrease in budget, but it has income-generating projects to compensate.
“Kailangan niyang (Aquino) patunayan na mali yung suspetya ng maraming tao na niloloko niya ang sambayanan noong sinabi niyang ang boto para sa kanya ay boto para sa pagbabago,” said Raymundo.