By Melissa Luz Lopez
University of the Philippines President Alfredo Pascual encouraged students, faculty and staff of the university to join the three-day strike, not only to protest against the budget cut, but also to call for greater state subsidy for education.
“Importante ang pagkilos na ito para maipadama sa mga namumuno at sa taumbayan kung ano ang ating dinaranas sa UP, (This is an important move in making our leaders and our people feel what UP is experiencing),” he said in a forum organized by UP Kilos Na and CONTEND-UP at the Faculty Center’s Claro M. Recto Hall.
Pascual feared the quality of education in the university would decline if the budget would not be increased.
He added, “Ang importante, nagkakaisa tayo sa ating panawagan na kailangang itaas ang budget ng UP. Kailangan rin nating ipamukha at ipagsigawan kung ano ang nagagawa ng UP para sa bayan (It is important that we are united in the call for greater subsidy for UP. We need to show and proclaim what UP does for the nation).”
Meanwhile, UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma focused on the university’s operational excellence, saying that UP is a “source of solutions” for the country.
“Kung maipapakita natin sa pamahalaan na tayo ay marunong mag-operate ng isang national university, mahihirapan silang hindi tayo pansinin… Ang issue ng UP budget ay hindi lang tinuturing kung ano yung tinanggal, kung hindi ang sustained at tamang suporta galing sa national government from year to year (If we can show the government that we know how to operate a national university, it will difficult to ignore us… The UP budget issue does not only concern the cut in funding, but also the sustained and sufficient support from the national government from year to year),” Saloma said.
Dean Adelaida Mayo of the College of Home Economics (CHE) also expressed her support for the call for greater subsidy.
Mayo discussed the importance of state funding for CHE as a form of public service because the college promotes livelihood projects to help improve the living conditions of Filipinos.
Whenever a problem arises in the community, the state consults UP, she said.
“Sana ay ma-realize ng ating gobyerno na ang unibersidad ang makakahanap at makakapag-aral ng mga solusyon na ito. Investment talaga ang pagbibigay ng support or greater state subsidy sa UP, (I hope that the government will realize that the university studies and finds solutions [to community problems]. It is truly an investment to give support or greater state subsidy to UP),” Mayo added.
Student Regent Kristina Conti, meanwhile, emphasized that the lack of government support for education led to the high tuition and laboratory fees imposed by the university.
“Ito ay krisis sa edukasyon – krisis sa prayoridad, krisis sa pag-appreciate sa education sector. Kaya ang tugon natin ay strike (This is an educational crisis – a crisis in priority, a crisis in the appreciation of the education sector, which is why we respond with a strike),” she said.
“Dear parents, be not afraid!”
Reading an open letter to parents of UP students, Prof. Gerry Lanuza, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs, explained the significance of student participation in the fight for greater state subsidy.
“[D]ear parents, be not afraid! There will be no public vandalism and aimless violence. The iskolars ng bayan are disciplined young radicals with well-honed principles and high academic vision. They are simply fighting to take back their basic rights,” he said at the forum.
[Read the full letter here.]