36 SUCs ask government to restore P6 billion budget cut

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
36 SUCs ask government to restore P6 billion budget cut
Stock photo of a peso money bill.
Philstar.com / Jovannie Lambayan

MANILA, Philippines — Thirty-six state colleges and universities, whose funding was cut in the proposed national budget for 2024, are calling on lawmakers to restore the P6.1 billion that they removed, and instead increase SUC funding amid the higher education crisis that the government must address.

In a unity statement released over the weekend by Kabataan party-list, 36 presidents of SUCs nationwide called on Congress to restore the budget cuts and augment the funding for higher education “if our state universities and colleges are to be expected to do their duties.”

“Additional budget is needed for our learning institutions to regain their public character and provide ample support for student services and faculty development. If our state universities and colleges are to be expected to do their duties, they must be funded accordingly,” the statement read.

SUCs nationwide earlier sought P331.3 billion in funding for next year. However, the Department of Budget and Management allocated to them only P100.88 billion, which is also significantly lower than the P107.03 billion allocated in the General Appropriations Act.

With the budget cuts, as many as 30 have lost a significant amount of funding despite an increase in SUC enrollment rates this school year.

“In the 2024 NEP (National Expenditure Program), 30 State Universities and Colleges suffered budget cuts, all adding up to a P6,155,499,000 decrease in the total budget of SUCs. Majority of these cuts were focused on budgets for Capital Outlay, which includes facilities, equipment, and other investments that will serve these institutions for periods longer than the next fiscal year,” the SUC presidents said.

“This is despite the budget for the Free Higher Education Program increasing, meaning that the Marcos, Jr. administration has acknowledged an increase in the enrollment rates for next year,” they added.

The SUC presidents stressed that the country’s higher education system is still reeling from the effects of school closures on student learning brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which they had intended to reconcile with investments in learning modalities and other student facilities.

“For a long time, the Philippine Higher Education System has been in crisis… It is more important than ever for the government to recognize, respect, and protect the Filipino people’s right to education,” they said.

“Education is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic status. It plays a vital role in empowering individuals and shaping a just society. However, the current state of our education system fails to adequately cater to the needs of our students due to inadequate financial support,” they added.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel thanked the SUC presidents for their united stand for an education budget increase.

“We thank and salute our SUC presidents for standing up for the right of more than 2.1 million scholars to free and quality education. We encourage more officials, students, teachers, staff, parents and other parts of our community to stand up for the education of our youth – for the future of our nation,” Manuel said in Filipino.

“This is for the future of our motherland,” the progressive opposition lawmaker added. — Delon Porcalla

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