Hundreds of protesters, mainly students and faculty of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, block the entire width of University Avenue infront of UPD's Quezon Hall during a rally vs the cuts on the budget of state universities and colleges, November 25, 2010. (Courtesy of Dean Lozarie of Tinig ng Plaridel, the official student publication of the UPD College of Mass Communications)
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Students, faculty and officials of state universities on Thursday protested against the billion-peso cut on the budgets of state universities and colleges.
Hundreds of students and faculty gathered in front of UP Diliman's Palma Hall for the protests, based on reports by Tinig ng Plaridel, the official student publication of the UP College of Mass Communication (CMC).
As of 1:30 pm, the Philippine Collegian, UP Diliman's main student publication, reported "thousands" of students on campus walked out of their classes in support of the protests.
Rain Sindayen of the UP Student Council told ABS-CBN News they will also hold an overnight vigil Thursday evening at Palma Hall.
They are also scheduled to march to Mendiola, Manila on Friday.
The students and the faculty of the University of the Philippines in Manila also walked out of their classrooms at around 10 a.m. and walked around Taft Avenue as part of their protest.
At noon, they held a boodle fight, eating tuyo, rice, and kamatis together with school staff as a sign of unity.
At the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), meanwhile, students also held protest actions.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino, who was at the PUP rally, said that they won't stop protesting the cuts until President Aquino pays attention to them. (Story continues below)
Hundreds of protesters singing "UP Naming Mahal" during a rally vs the cuts on the budget of state universities and colleges at UP Diliman, November 25, 2010. (Courtesy of Dean Lozarie, Tinig ng Plaridel, official student publication of the UPD CMC)
Billions of pesos cut from budgets
Earlier, officials and students of the country's state universities and colleges (SUCs) announced they will hold a series of protest actions in their campuses to oppose the cuts.
In a press conference, officials of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), along with Palatino, announced they would be staging campus strikes “to urge the government to increase the operating budget and allocate adequate funds for the capital outlay of our cash-strapped state schools.”
A total of P1.1 billion was slashed in the 2011 budget for the operations of the 97 SUCs in the country, while not a single centavo was earmarked for the construction of new buildings and facilities. Funds for student financial assistance were also cut by 43%.
The University of the Philippines (UP) and the Philippine Normal University (PNU) are among the top 5 SUCs that will suffer the biggest budget cuts.
UP's budget will be reduced by P1.39 billion to P5.5 billion in 2011 from P6.9 billion in 2010, while PNU's will be slashed by P92 million to P295.88 million from P387.23 million.
"Nakakalungkot na dinagdagan niya iyung pork barrel ng [mga] kongresista, nakakalungkot na dinagdagan niya iyung military budget. Napakalaki ng allotment para sa debt servicing, pero binawasan niya ang budget para sa kalusugan at para sa edukasyon," said Prof. Carl Ramota, chairman of UP-Manila's Social Sciences Department
The protesters believe that the budget cut and other issues hounding the government will result in a drop in President Benigno Aquino III's popularity and trust ratings.
"Bababa't-bababa din po iyan, kasi hindi naman forever na masisilaw iyung mga mamamayan sa dilaw na pagbabago, dahil ngayon, nalalagyan na ng bloodstain ang yellow ribbon na iyon, at unti-unti nang nadi-disillusion ang mga mamamayan sa kaniya, lalo pa concrete naman iyung budget cut sa amin," said Ces Santos, chairperson of the University Student Council of UP Manila.
Last Friday, students, faculty, and other employees of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines staged a strike and halted university operations to oppose the budget cuts. - With reports from TJ Manotoc and Dominic Almelor, ABS-CBN News