Not about whether they should be agitating for higher subsidies, but about what they’re actually protesting against.
Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate finance commitee, says “there is no substantial reduction”
to proposed spending on state universities and colleges (SUCs).
If anything, the National Expenditure Program (NEP)–the budget proposed
by the President–is putting more money into SUCS next year.
On the NEP for 2010, around P19.6 billion was allocated for state schools. The NEP for next year gives them P21.7 billion.
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines, where student acivists burned desks in March to protest a tuition fee increase, is supposed to get P672.6 million next year against P640.4 million this year.
The University of the Philippines system, whose students walked out of their classes on Thursday, has been allocated P5.525 billion on the NEP for 2011. Although not enough, it is slightly higher than the P5.289 billion on the 2010 NEP.
The budget “cuts” the students are protesting are not actually cuts at all. There was around P2.8 billion in congressional insertions, which come after the NEP, given to SUCs in the 2010 budget. These insertions are not regular budget items and have been removed from the NEP for 2011.
“These congressional insertions, rightfully, should not be repeated in the 2011 budget,” Drilon says.
The students (and faculty) of state schools have been protesting against a discrepancy between two different documents.
The NEP is a budget proposed by the Executive branch. The actual national budget, the General Appropriations Act, is the result of the NEP going through both houses of Congress.
Members of Congress can reallocate funds or use their Priority Development Assistance Funds to put money into so-called pet projects.
The cut this year, is actually in the congressional insertions. Around P2.8 billion was inserted into the SUCs for the 2010 budget. Congressional insertions for 2011 have only been around 293 million.
The students can blame the economy, or members of congress for not being as generous with their PDAF, but they cannot blame the President (much).
At this stage of the budget process, the Executive branch practically has to beg hat in hand for money.