There is a Budget Cut!

Posted on December 1, 2010



Oppose the language of technocracy, assert the language of common sense!


A lot has been said in the past week, not just about the extent, but more fundamentally, about the existence or non-existence of a “cut in the budget” or “budget cut” affecting the UP System in the proposed 2011 “Reform Budget.” Some have asserted that there has in fact been no “budget cut” at all, or that if there has been, it is much less than the P1.39B being bandied about by the student activists. The gist of the argument is that the “capital outlay” part of the budget which is project-specific and meant for the construction of buildings, equipment purchase among others, is “non-recurring.” That is to say the amounts for the past year’s capital outlay will not necessarily have to appear in next year’s budget.


Let’s look at some figures: In 2008, the national budget allocated P1.5B as capital outlay for the UP System, in 2009 it was P2.05B while in 2010 it was pegged at P1.28B. In the budget which UP initially proposed for the coming year amounting to a grand total of P18.5B, almost half or P8.87B was to have been set aside for the much needed development of University infrastructure and upgrading of equipment. However, in great contrast to this stated need, the “Reform Budget” does not allocate a single centavo as capital outlay for the UP System for 2011. The net result is that the UP System has been given a zero amount for this particular component instead of its proposed P8.87B.


It is correct that the amounts requested for “specific projects” within a fiscal year are non-recurring. But it is crucial also to take note of the fact that the need for capital outlay itself (given current trends) is always recurring and in fact, seems to be mounting yearly. Even a superficial comparison of UP with other leading universities in Asia would suffice to underline the sordid and decrepit state of its infrastructure and equipment. The argument that there has been no budget cut because the relevant projects covered by capital outlay terminate on a yearly basis anyway, mistakes the trees for the forest.


Given that the language of business administration and management seems to have colonized all domains of human speech and asserted its supreme right to determine the semantics even of activist slogans, it might be useful to go back to our trusty Merriam-Webster Dictionary which defines “budget” as “the amount of money that is available for, required for, or assigned to a particular purpose.” In addition, according to the venerable Oxford English Dictionary, one of the meanings of “cut” is “to reduce or decrease (expenditure, etc.).”


Now let’s say the particular purpose we are looking at is the very legitimate budgetary component called “Capital Outlay.” Following the above definition closely, the budget for “Capital Outlay” is therefore the amount of money available for, required for, or assigned to it. In the past few years, the money which the national government has made available or assigned to this budgetary component for the UP System has never been zero. Next year it will be zero. Now isn’t the reduction of the money available for “Capital Outlay” from last year’s amount of P1.28B to absolutely nothing a huge reduction in expenditure or “cut” for this component? Isn’t this a drastic negation of the amount which UP claims it requires of at least P8.87B? And on top of this, this translates to a net reduction in the total budget at the disposal of the whole UP System.


We may quibble over the amount, but to deny that there has been a cut, and a huge one at that, is pure sophistry. To accept this would be to let the language of technocracy take over the truth of the language of common sense. Going beyond semantics, we are faced with the very real fact of state abandonment of tertiary education on a large-scale. In line with World Bank prescriptions on higher education “reforms,” President Noynoy Aquino admits openly that “we are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs [State Universities and Colleges] to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent, given their ability to raise their income and to utilize it for their programs and projects.”The current budget cut and those still to come will imperil UP’s ability to provide affordable, quality education for the youth of this nation. These will erode and undermine our central values of academic excellence and academic freedom. We must act now to stop the budget cut!


Join the December 1 Anti-Budget Cut Rally at the Senate!


College teach-ins: 7 am – 10 am.

Assembly 11 am, Dec. 1 at Quezon Hall before departing for the Philippine Senate.



Concerned Faculty Against the Budget Cut

All UP Workers Union

All UP Academic Employees Union


Posted in: Budget Cut, Diliman