Congress passes budget cuts in 26 SUCs – including 7 Yolanda affected state schools – for 2014

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Devastation in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where Yolanda/Haiyan first hit land. (AFP Central Command photo)
Devastation in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where Yolanda/Haiyan first hit land. (AFP Central Command photo)

MANILA, 17Dec2013 – Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon lamented Thursday the approval of budget cuts in 26 state universities and colleges (SUCs) next year, seven of which were heavily damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda, with the bicameral conference’s (bicam) approval of the harmonized 2014 General Appropriations Bill.

While SUCs will receive an additional P1.269 billion allocation in the bicameral version of the 2014 budget, mostly due to the transfer of the lump-sum allocation for scholarships and the provision of additional capital outlay to the University of the Philippines (UP) and four other SUCs, 26 state schools will still be receiving less funds next year.

From zero capital outlay, the bicam added P1.27 billion to UP’s budget for infrastructure in “various campuses…including the Philippine General Hospital and scholarship for poor and deserving students.” This brings UP’s total budget for 2014 to P9.37 billion, which is still P156.1 million less than the P9.53 billion budget allotted to the national university this year.

Four other SUCs received additional funding for capital outlay and other projects, as follows:

  1. Ifugao State University – additional P17.7 million for the Cordillera indigenous farming system and scholarships
  2. Tarlac College of Agriculture – additional P18.57 million for educational technological laboratories and scholarships
  3. Cebu Technological University – additional P49.75 million budget for the construction of academic buildings and scholarships
  4. MSU-Tawi Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography – additional P29.5 million for additional MOOE and scholarships

According to the bicam report, all other SUCs will reflect an increase due to the distribution of the P2.5 billion lump-sum fund for scholarships.

However, even with the additional funding and realignments, 26 SUCs will still suffer cuts in their budget next year. UP’s P156.1 million is second only to the P667.2 million cut that will be incurred by Mindanao State University.

Here is the list of the 26 SUCs that will suffer cuts next year:

State University/College

Total Budget

Difference

2013

2014

1

Mindanao State University     2,607,591,000

1,940,327,000

        (667,264,000)

2

University of the Philippines System     9,529,497,000

9,373,382,000

        (156,115,000)

3

MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology        679,166,000

587,146,000

          (92,020,000)

4

Isabela State University        549,538,000

512,172,000

          (37,366,000)

5

MSU-Tawi-tawi College of Technology and Oceanography        371,778,000

343,682,000

          (28,096,000)

6

Palawan State University        235,429,000

218,825,000

          (16,604,000)

7

Negros Oriental State University (Central Visayas Polytechnic College)        216,203,000

202,911,000

          (13,292,000)

8

University of Antique (Polytechnic State College of Antique)        132,400,000

120,185,000

          (12,215,000)

9

Leyte Normal University        147,963,000

135,890,000

          (12,073,000)

10

Cagayan State University        395,602,000

383,659,000

          (11,943,000)

11

Iloilo State College of Fisheries        148,789,000

137,029,000

          (11,760,000)

12

Northwest Samar State University (TIMIST and SSCAF)        107,900,000

97,513,000

          (10,387,000)

13

Nueva Vizcaya State University (NVSIT and NVSPC)        260,938,000

251,009,000

             (9,929,000)

14

Palompon Institute of Technology        100,746,000

92,154,000

             (8,592,000)

15

Mountain Province State Polytechnic College           94,790,000

86,700,000

             (8,090,000)

16

Eastern Visayas State University (Leyte Institute of Technology)        248,434,000

241,509,000

             (6,925,000)

17

Pangasinan State University        303,522,000

297,399,000

             (6,123,000)

18

University of Rizal System        299,138,000

293,187,000

             (5,951,000)

19

Philippine Normal University        433,790,000

428,351,000

             (5,439,000)

20

Batanes State College           26,838,000

23,006,000

      (3,832,000)

21

Kalinga-Apayao State College           88,450,000

84,822,000

             (3,628,000)

22

Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University (DHVCAT)        136,771,000

133,472,000

             (3,299,000)

23

Marikina Polytechnic College           77,267,000

74,044,000

             (3,223,000)

24

Benguet State University        345,767,000

344,039,000

             (1,728,000)

25

Western Visayas College of Science and Technology        259,220,000

257,519,000

             (1,701,000)

26

Naval State University (Naval Institute of Technology)        108,427,000

108,247,000

                (180,000)

 

“While it is good that bicam averted the heftier cut earlier passed by the Lower House and was able to bring down the number of SUCs that will incur budget cuts for 2014 from 79 to the current 26, it is still deplorable to know that there are still schools that will suffer large cuts,” Ridon said.

The youth solon particularly noted that of the 26 state schools that will incur budget cuts, seven suffered massive damage from Typhoon Yolanda, including the UP campus in Tacloban, Leyte Normal University, Iloilo State College of Fisheries, Palompon Institute of Technology, Eastern Visayas State University, Western Visayas College of Science and Technology, and Naval State University.

“The question that is left unanswered is why are we aggravating the situation in these SUCs by further cutting their budgets? And why didn’t bicam augment the budgets of the said Yolanda-stricken SUCs?” Ridon asked.

The youth solon noted that the P3.2 billion budget constituting the pork barrel of Senate and the Vice President reportedly “foregone” by bicam should have been realigned to the 26 SUCs instead.

“It is also important to note that our SUCs requested for P59.9 billion in 2014, and only P35.9 billion was approved – a little more than half of the original request. Clearly, the 2014 budget for higher education is vastly inadequate,” Ridon said.

‘New provisions on lump-sum funds not enough’

Meanwhile, Ridon also noted that the additional provisions on the use of lump-sum funds are still not enough to curb corruption and misuse of funds.

“Take note that most new provisions added by bicam to supposedly safeguard the use of lump-sum funds only provide for congressional oversight after the fact, when the funds have already been used. It clearly is not enough to curb misuse,” Ridon said.

Adding provisions requiring more documents for the release of lump-sum funds can also do little to truly provide transparency and prevent misuse, he added.

“The bicam version of the budget approved additional lump-sum funds. Congressional pork might not exist by name anymore, but we know for a fact that there are still lump-sums that can be source of new pork. We have to review the bicam version further before we ratify it,” Ridon said.

“At present, we’re still in the process of reviewing the harmonized bill. We really need to squint our eyes and be wary of new and emerging forms of pork in the 2014 budget,” Ridon said.

Senate has already ratified the bicam version of the 2014 budget yesterday. Meanwhile, Congress is expected to ratify the bicam version of the 2014 budget this Monday.

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