SUCs want P6.15-B budget cut restored
MANILA, Philippines — The presidents of 36 state universities and colleges (SUCs) on Sunday called on Congress to restore the P6.15 billion that was cut from their proposed 2024 budget, saying the additional funding would help further support the needs of students and faculty.
“If our state universities and colleges are expected to do their duties, they must be funded accordingly,” read the unity statement signed by the heads of SUCs that included the University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Leyte Normal University, Davao del Sur State College and Mariano Marcos State University, among others.
The signatories said most of the budget cuts were focused on the SUCs’ funding for capital outlay — which includes facilities, equipment, and other investments — that would serve them for periods “longer than the next fiscal year.”
Under the government’s proposed national budget for 2024, SUCs would be allotted a total of P100.8 billion, a reduction of 5.75 percent compared to their funding this year of P107 billion.
‘Quality of learning’
According to the unity statement, the reduced budget for 2024 would affect 30 of the country’s 118 SUCs.
Last week, Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel and the other members of the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives filed a resolution seeking to restore the P6.15 billion. Caloocan Rep. Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy, one of the budget sponsors for SUCs, coauthored the resolution.
“For a long time, the Philippine Higher Education System has been in crisis,” the heads of the SUCs said, as they recalled how school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic incurred a “negative impact on the quality of learning for students at all levels.”
“It is more important than ever for the government to recognize, respect, and protect the Filipino people’s right to education,” they added. “Education is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic status.”
The additional funding would also help SUCs “regain their public character” on top of providing an ample amount of support for student services and faculty development, they said.
Manuel pointed out in a separate statement that restoring the P6.15 billion would serve more than 2.1 million scholars.
“We are calling on more officials, students, teachers, employees, parents, and other members of our community to stand with us for the sake of our youth’s quality education, for our nation’s future,” he said.
While calling out the lower budget for SUCs, Makabayan lawmakers also questioned the Department of Education (DepEd) for seeking P150 million in confidential funds.
Education Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte defended the DepEd’s request, saying that education is intertwined with national security.