Bishop Pabillo, Senator Koko join call for higher SUCs budget

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Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. Photo courtesy InterAksyon.com
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. Photo courtesy InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III today linked arms with Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond “Mong” Palatino and national youth groups in calling for a higher budget for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in 2012.

“The support of Bishop Pabillo and Senator Koko will definitely intensify the impulse of the people’s campaign to save our public universities from utter destitution. We hold in high esteem their solidarity with the fight of our SUCS for a sufficient budget in 2012,” Palatino said in two separate press conferences Tuesday.

Pabillo and Pimentel’s support was clinched in light of the budget cuts to the already insufficient funds of SUCs for 2012.

Palatino said the under the proposed 2012 national budget being deliberated in the House of Representatives, SUCs are pegged to have an immediately accessible budget of only P21.89 billion. The budget for Capital Outlay (CO) of SUCs used for procurement of equipment and construction of buildings was reduced to zero. The UP system in 2010, for instance, has a P1.3 billion CO budget; it now suffers zero CO budget just like all the 112 SUCs in the country.

Apart from CO, the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of 45 SUCs will be slashed by P250.9 million. The budget for Personal Services (PS) has also been decreased by P403.3 million despite the supposed automatic increase in PS for each year, due to the Salary Standardization Law.

Palatino said that the urgency of allocating a higher budget for the country’s SUCs is highlighted by the latest report from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings which did not place any Philippine university in the top league of 300.

Palatino said that the poor ranking is reflective of government neglect to public universities and the gross commercialization in tertiary education on the whole.

“As we reiterate our stand for an SUC budget increase, we stress that such call is aligned with the vision of making our universities at par with best in the world. Such vision must be guided by the principle of strengthening our universities to be instrumental for national progress and development. Indeed, this noble role of our SUCs is a concrete inspiration that makes the cause of an SUC budget increase worth fighting for,” Palatino said, lifting from the joint unity statement.

The proposed 2012 SUC budget will be subjected to plenary debates tomorrow in the House of Representatives.

Kabataan Party-list, together with the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) and national youth organizations, will lobby in the House tomorrow for a higher SUCs budget. Before the plenary debates, SUC Presidents are set to personally dialogue with various Representatives to urge them to support the campaign.

“President Aquino should understand that the plight of our SUCs speaks volumes about the education crisis besetting the nation. We urge him to wield his power to reverse the trend of state abandonment to public tertiary education,” Palatino said.

The broad unity for higher SUC budget has set September 19-23 as a national week of protests calling for a sufficient increase for education and other social services. BicolToday.com

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