UP in the air: What you need to know from the proposed 2022 budget for UP

What you need to know:

  • On Aug. 23, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) proposed a P1.3 billion cut in the UP system’s 2022 budget, as part of the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
  • The DBM’s proposal stipulates less funding for the university’s students, faculty and staff, including operations of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
  • As President Duterte, through the DBM, hands off his proposed 2022 budget to the House of Representatives, the UP system’s fate now rests on the hands of Congress, who is set to start deliberations on Aug. 26.

In 2022, the UP system could face a P1.3 billion budget cut through the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) proposed national budget, which was submitted to the House of Representatives on Aug. 23, Monday.

From this year’s P21.5 billion budget, the DBM would only allocate P20.1 billion for the university in 2022, according to the National Expenditure Program (NEP). 

The NEP, an annual budget proposal made by the department and signed by President Duterte, contains the president’s monetary vision board for the following year. After both houses of Congress finalize its specifics, it will be set in stone as the General Appropriations Act of 2022, which will dictate how much each government institution will receive.

Among those that could cut corners would be the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the country’s largest COVID-19 referral center, which relies on the UP system’s wallet for equipment, maintenance and staff funding. 

While PGH received an all-time budget high of P6.87 billion in 2021, the university hospital might have to sustain operations next year with only P5.66 billion should lawmakers adopt Duterte’s proposed budget. 

Education, research and extensions

The university’s undergraduate and graduate students would also be affected by the looming budget crunch, all while the UP system pursues distance learning for the second straight year.

In 2021, UP was given over P10 billion for education, including funds for scholarships, colleges and institutes, salary of faculty and staff, and construction of facilities across campuses nationwide. Education spending accounted for most of the university’s budget allocation this year. 

For 2022, Duterte is setting his sights on a P900 million budget cut for undergraduate studies, most of which will affect campus facilities. Meanwhile, students, faculty and staff in graduate courses could also receive P3 million less from what they got this year.

Meanwhile, the university’s research and extension programs will have a budget increase amounting to P414 million and P135 million respectively. 

Research funds cover expenses incurred in producing the university’s studies, while extension program funding includes partnership activities with off-campus institutions such as local government units, non-governmental organizations and indigent communities, among others.

‘Highest in history’

The UP System aside, the country is looking at the NEP to foresee the national government’s pandemic response in 2022. In his game plan, Duterte aims to cough up a P5 trillion budget to fund social services and infrastructure, which Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque boasts to be “the highest in history.”

The largest allocation for executive departments in the president’s NEP will go to the education sector which includes the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority with P773.6 billion next year. 

While Duterte gets first say on next year’s funding, Congress can still turn down his proposed budget accounts.

They did so in 2019 when several lawmakers opposed the NEP’s supposed P456 million cut on the PGH’s funding. After Congress convened on the hospital’s budget, it was granted a P787 million increase for 2020.

Still, the P4 billion given to PGH failed to cover operational expenses during the pandemic. Even with an additional P400 million released to the hospital under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, health workers had to grapple with delays in the release of their P500 daily COVID-19 hazard pay and special risk allowance. 

Congress will discuss the specifics of the 2022 national budget starting Aug. 26, with consideration to the country’s mass vaccination program and subsidies for pandemic-hit FIlipinos.

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