By James Relativo
UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma marched with 500 students, deans, faculties and staff around the Academic Oval yesterday to protest the budget cuts in education and other social services.
The Chancellor also expressed his overwhelming support for the coming student strikes on September
21 to 23, given that the “students do not forget their obligations to their studies.”
“Kailangan ma-realize ng ating pamahalaan, starting from the executive branch, to the legislative branch, na kailangan suportahan ang kaisa-isang national university ng ating bansa dahil ito ay isang national treasure,” said Saloma.
The Department of Budget and Management approved a P5.54 billion budget for UP in 2012, or 34 percent of the proposed P17 billion.
This is an almost 200 million decrease from the current P5.75 billion budget of the university.
Fifty other SUCs will suffer a 569-million budget cut for the coming year.
The program started in Palma Hall steps with a speech from Saloma to urge the government to provide the university adequate state funding for it to forward competent and nationalistic education and to “optimize human capital.”
Currently 17 out of 19 deans of Diliman deans signed the unity statement to support the budget fight.
Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo announced the support of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), their constituent 110 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and their respective administrators to fight for greater state subsidy.
Crisostomo added that the budget for the Department of Education remains inadequate, citing that the state’s per capita spending for education remains a measly P6.68.
However, P28 would be allotted for purchasing M-16 bullets, Crisostomo said.
He also criticized Aquino’s 2012 budget where only a peso would be allotted per person every day for health services, while the budget for debt servicing, public-private partnerships and military spending continue to increase nominally.
Students from the UP Integrated School (UPIS) also joined the unity march as it gathered in front of Quezon Hall.
“Nirerecognize po namin yung budget cut, [apektado kami] dahil po gigibain po yung UPIS high school para lang patayuan ng Ayala Land Technohub,” said grade six student Pierre Jacob De los Reyes in a speech he delivered in front of students.
This article was also published in #strikelead, the official newsdesk of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines for the September 21-23 strike.