What's the education budget cut ranting all about?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-11-30
“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” was how William Shakespeare described it and that applies to the recent ranting about the so-called budget cuts in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Last Friday, ANC Dateline News anchors Tony Velasquez and Twink Macaraig had a discussion with LFS (League of Filipino Students) National Chairman Terry Ridon over the protest actions against the claimed education budget cuts, as these affect SUCs. Budget Secretary Butch Abad later joined the discussion via phone patch.
Listening to Ridon and all those other protesters whom you see on television you’ll get the impression that President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) had reneged on his campaign promise to prioritize education. “P-Noy betrayed his campaign promise to prioritize education” was what the protesters and demonstrators were hysterically screaming on the television newscasts.
However, the facts show that in the proposed 2011 budget of the P-Noy administration, the education budget actually increased. Not only that – the percentage share of education in the 2011 national budget is the highest in years. The following comparative chart illustrates that:
Basic Education Budget vis-à-vis the National Budget
(Source: BESF 2010, tables B7 and B7a)
2009 2010 2011(as proposed)
Total National 1.434 1.541 1.645
Budget trillion trillion trillion
Education, 208.72 240.59 271.670
Culture and billion billion billion
share to Total 14.6% 15.6% 16.5%
growth rate 11.8% 15.3% 12.9%
Department of 171.068 174.966 207.271
Education billion billion billion
share to Total 11.9% 11.4% 12.6%
growth rate 10.3% 2.3% 18.5%
Compared to the 2010 SUCs budget, the proposed 2011 SUCs budget had also increased. Per Sec. Abad, the proposed SUCs budget for 2011 is P23.4 billion, which is P2.4 billion higher than the P21.0 billion National Expenditure Program (NEP) in 2010; but lower by P438 million than the allocation of P23.85 billion under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2010.
Sec. Abad clarified that the P2.8 billion of the GAA allocation for SUCs are considered Congressional Initiatives (CIs) which are subjected to a conditional veto in the 2010 GAA by the previous President. The conditional veto says that CIs can only be released subject to new revenue measures passed by Congress.
So, the question screams at you – what education budget cuts are they ranting about? Still, another question screams at you – what SUCs budget cuts are they ranting about? Clearly, the P-Noy administration is true to its campaign pledge that it will prioritize education but you must wonder if all those who have been ranting about education budget cuts learned arithmetic at all.
In a memorandum to P-Noy, Sec. Abad rationalized the 2011 P23.4 billion for SUCs, as follows:
1. SUCs have a total of P19.1 billion in cash advances as of end of 2009 that the SUCs could and should use. The average SUC had P65.8 billion in cash advances, equal to 41.3 percent of their expenditures. The largest, P11.9 billion, belonged to the University of the Philippines (oddly one of the noisiest in ranting against the budget cuts).
2. On a more fundamental level, the utilization of public funds for tertiary education is highly regressive, and with the scarcity of funds, other more pressing needs that will benefit such as basic education which benefits more poor students had to be prioritized.
According to the latest Philippine Public Expenditure Review (PER) by the World Bank (WB), the distribution of public school enrollment becomes increasingly skewed in favor of richer households as the level of education rises.
Unlike the students in the SUCs, the pupils in the primary education level do not have the capability to organize rallies and demonstrations, stage media events and employ methods of agitprop as mastered by the Leftist militants who are playing a visible role in these campus agitations. Unlike the students in the SUCs who have undergone primary and secondary schooling, the pupils in the primary education level have very few options to augment their means. College students have the option to be part-time workers.
The students today have not experienced the student activism of the 1970s and may not be aware of Leftist manipulations through their front organizations. There has been a marked increase in Leftist agitprop in the new administration assured perhaps that P-Noy will not resort to killing suspected Leftist elements.
A top intelligence official of the P-Noy administration had revealed to your Chair Wrecker recently that the agenda of the Left is to demonize the President and erode his public support. At a certain point the Left is hoping that the Opposition will be encouraged to join their destabilization activities.
There will always be reasons to complain about things in our country. There will be justifications to bring our complaints or clamor for reform to the media or to the streets. We must make sure that what we are doing will serve our real personal objective and not the sinister agenda of groups that are out to subvert and destroy our democracy.
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