Lawmaker Isidro Ungab, Davao City’s representative for its third congressional district, has proposed House Bill 5311 or an Act to establish the Davao Regional State University System (DRSUS) which will integrate the region’s four state universities and colleges (SUCs) — the University of Southeastern Philippines, Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology, Southern Philippines Agribusiness and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology and the Davao del Norte State College.
The proposed house bill aims to reduce the number of SCUs in the country so as to maximize their limited budget.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) believes that HB 5311 further justifies the continuous decrease in the budget for SUCs. The bill compromises the budget for college education to the detriment of the Filipino youth.
We say, the righteous path in addressing the deteriorating quality of and access to Philippine education system is to broaden the access to education for the poor majority especially in the provinces, allocate bigger budget for SCUs and ensure that quality education is provided for the country’s future generation.
For almost two years under the Aquino administration’s “daang matuwid,” the Filipino people have continued to suffer the impacts of the worsening socio-economic crisis. The administration through its palliative dole-out systems such as the Conditional Cash Transfer has been unable to uplift the lives of the Filipino people. It has slashed the budget for basic social services and education.
President Aquino’s message in light of the 2011 fiscal budget was: “We are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs 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.”
In 2011, the Aquino administration allocated PhP 22.03 billion for SUCs nationwide, decreasing the budget by over PhP 1.8 billion. For 2012, the government has allocated only PhP 21.8 billion that will be shared by more than 110 SCUs all over the country.
Budget cuts resulted to continuous tuition and miscellaneous fees hikes, eventually privatizing the education. In essence the government keeps on being the number one agent in making education inaccessible which is tantamount to violating the right of the youth to education.
In line with its neo-liberal framework which aims to privatize public institutions, the government has been consistent with the design to reduce the number of SUCs in the country. As the name suggests, SCUs are ‘supposedly’ government-fund. The essence of these institutions is to cater quality and accessible education to the youth, by virtue of the universal truth that we are the future of our nation and thus, must be provided with the fundamental knowledge, training and practice to prepare us for our roles as future leaders.
We say, HB 5311 highlights the government’s abandonment of its social obligation to the Filipino youth. We call on administrators, students, teachers and staff of all SUCs in the country to support and join us in the fight against HB 5311. We must fight for greater budget for SUCs, we must fight for a nationalist, pro-Filipino and scientific education.
Vice President for Mindanao
National Union of Students of the Philippines