Monday, December 6, 2010

Statement of Mr. Terry Ridon: Advance our initial victory! Persist in the struggle against the budget cut!

December 4, 2010

We, the youth together with other sectors, have achieved an initial yet significant victory through our firm solidarity and collective action against the budget cuts to our State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

On December 1, 2010, our massive national strike against the SUC budget cuts has forced the Senate to amend the 2011 national budget by allocating a P146-M increase for the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of our SUCs. This was made possible by the thousands of youth, teachers, administrators, and staff who intensely engaged the Aquino government with vibrant education protests.

As an attempt to break our growing and dynamic unity, the Aquino government and its cohorts have spun the lie that no actual SUC budget cut exists. But we have sharply countered such manic lie with critical thinking and passionate assertion. We have thus exposed the deceit of the Aquino government and its brazen plan to abandon the SUCs to utter destitution.

We have ascertained that Aquino’s “reform budget,” in truth, is no different from, if not worse than, the budget of the rotten Arroyo regime. For both, the same holds true: budget cuts to education and other social services amid billions of pesos given to congressional pork barrel, military defense spending, conditional cash dole-outs, and foreign debt servicing.

By itself, the P146-M additional budget is insufficient in substantially addressing the urgent concerns of the SUCs – deteriorating conditions, lack of facilities and equipment, low salaries, inadequate benefits and contractualization policies for the faculty and staff, and the imminence of tuition and other fee increase. Such additional budget in fact will only amount to P1.3-M if divided among all 112 SUCs. On the other hand, the budget for Capital Outlay (CO) remains close to zero.

Hence, the fight for our right to education is certainly not yet over. We must not succumb to complacency on account of our initial victory. Recently, the Aquino government has reiterated its State policy that support for SUCs will be gradually decreased. Department of Budget and Management (DBM) head Butch Abad, on the other hand, foretells the reduction in the number of the SUCs. These call for utmost vigilance and militancy.

In the immediate is the Bicameral Conference Committee (BCC) meeting of the Senate and the Congress which is set to finalize the 2011 national budget. The Bicameral meeting is yet another opening for us students, teachers, administrators and staff to assert the removal of the budget cuts to the SUCs.

Our allies in the Senate and the Congress shall do their best to press their colleagues to stand in defense of our right to education by completely removing the cuts in the MOOE and CO of the SUCs.

More crucial, however, is that we arouse, organize and mobilize with greater fervor and broader unity in preparation for the Bicameral meeting. We have already proven something grand and historic - that genuine change is possible if we are united, if we are resolute and if we are militant in fighting for our rights and for our future.

So we shall continue the fight. And we shall be thousands upon thousands more as we advance to greater victories.

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