Hon. Krissy Conti
University of the Philippines System
The national government owes the University some P6.19 billion in unreleased annual appropriations from 2002 to 2010, new data made available to the UP administration today shows. A report prepared by the Center for National Budget Legislation this year tracked the UP budget as approved by Congress vis a vis funds disbursement. (CNBL is a non-government organization founded by former staff officers from Congress.)
Withheld amounts were calculated as savings of the government from UP. The total now exceeds the UP budget proposal for 2012 – it is 112% of the P5.54 billion provided for in the National Expenditure Program of President Aquino. That fund, if paid to UP within the next years, would contribute significantly to pending projects of the University such as the National Science Complex and the Engineering Research and Development for Technology, the Philippine Genome Center, and faculty/staff/research development.
This fund must be released as soon as possible. We work hard every year to secure Congressional allocations for UP and other state colleges and universities but apparently, it is only half of the work to commit government funds. Even if funds have already been earmarked for UP’s expenses, they are either caught up in the intricacies of budget release or impounded outright. Savings in the national government are very different from our literal appreciation; they aren’t derived from administrative efficiencies or rationalization.
In practice, the chief executive may refuse to release and spend funds that have already been appropriated. Impoundment during the previous administration was a common practice, and it hit an all-time high of P140 billion in 2008. These are “forced savings” that when so categorized, may be used by the executive at its discretion.
Our campaign for greater state subsidy necessarily asserts that the government must appropriate sufficient budget AND timely release it. Yet in both aspects, the most apparent government policy is this: to keep as much money away from UP and tertiary education.
Last night, Kabataan partylist representative Raymond Palatino disclosed that the Department of Budget and Management has a directive to consistently reduce subsidy to state colleges and universities, even as it noted rising enrollment figures. His plenary speech yesterday hopefully drives the point that the education system will be in a protracted crisis.
We have already laid out our short- and long-term actions for this campaign. For the moment, while the budget is not yet final, we will push for budget realignments or Congressional insertions. On 7 September 2011, some 40 neophyte congressmen graciously invited school presidents and student leaders to air out concerns in a roundtable discussion. They were highly sympathetic, especially after reading our unity statement, “Stand for our right to education, fight for greater state subsidy!” signed by various student councils and organizations and supported by our five regents, 12 deans, two vice-chancellors. The period of amendments to the NEP is next week.
Ultimately, we understand that to solve this crisis we must demand policy changes. At last weekend’s UP Luzon-wide Students’ Congress in UP Los Banos attended by 50 delegates, we pledged to contribute to an atmosphere of protest and the struggle for principles. We call for demonstrations week after week in UP; parallel activities that at the same time fete the tenacity of President Alfredo Pascual, one of our strongest allies in the fight for higher subsidy to education. For meaningful change, UP will go on strike on 21-23 September!
Remit the P6.19 billion unreleased appropriations to UP!
No to P800 million budget cut to UP in 2012!
Reinstate the budget for unfilled positions!
Add more public funds to maintenance and other operating expenses!
Oppose zero capital outlay; put funds for new building and facilities!
Fight for greater and sufficient state subsidy to education and social services!
Let’s strike back against budget cuts on September 21-23, 2011!
- Join the counterpart lobbying efforts
- Sign the system-wide unity statement
- Wear campaign pins or other paraphernalia
- Wear black on 9 and 16 September
- Run for a cause on Sunday, 11 September
- In UP Diliman, march in unity on 14 September around the academic oval
- Find alternative educational spaces and environments, and joining student-led discussions
- Walk out of your lectures
- Organize the strikes!
If you are still undecided as to whether you will personally be supporting the strikes, or if you are perhaps just worrying about the prospect of missing class, think of this as one battle in a protracted war for accessible and quality education: it is something so much more than missed classes, quizzes or lectures – it’s about securing for the next generation verily, the chance to go to school.