Lawmakers seek to restore P10-billion budget cut for state universities, colleges

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2022 07:25 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2022 09:14 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — Lawmakers want to restore over P10 billion that was cut in the proposed budget for state universities and colleges (SUCs) in 2023.

The National Expenditure Program showed that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only allowed SUCs to have P93.325 billion, down from P104.177 billion it got this year.

Most of the SUCs only got capital outlays of P25 million each.

Special provisions of the sector's budget authorizes them to collect tuition and other necessary school charges in accordance with R.A. No. 8292 without prejudice to the provisions of R.A. NO. 10931 or the universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. 

These fees will be retained and deposited by SUCs in an authorized depository bank. 

It also states that all income generated by the operations of hospitals or medical centers under SUCs will be used to augment the hospitals' maintenance and other operating expenses and capital outlay requirements only.

It was the Makabayan progressive bloc, led by the Kabataan Party-list, that filed a resolution seeking to restore the cuts.

The bloc noted that in the proposed 2023 budget, SUCs will be suffering a 10.48-percent decrease from their budget.

Among the institutions with the biggest budget cuts include the following:

  • Marikina Polytechnic College (down by 80.92 percent)
  • University of the Philippines System (down by 9.8 percent)
  • Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University
  • University of Northern Philippines
  • Batanes State College
  • Bulacan Agricultural State College
  • Tarlac State University
  • Batangas State University
  • Cavite State University
  • Marinduque State College (down by 79.97 percent)
  • Romblon State University (down by more than 63 percent)
  • Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (down by 51 percent)
  • Cebu Normal University 
  • Naval State University, now Biliran Province State University 
  • Basilan State College 
  • Bukidnon State University 
  • Davao Oriental State University 
  • University of Southern Philippines 
  • University of Southern Mindanao
  • Mindanao State University

The allocation for the Philippine General Hospital, which is part of the UP system, is 5.1 percent less than its 2022 budget.

The Polytechnic University of the Philippines received an allocation of only P252 million for 2023, less than half of the P552 million it requested. Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Mitzi Cajayon-Uy said this amount will not be enough to complete the ongoing construction of a building in the campus.

“Hindi po ito kayang matapos, kaya nanghihingi sila ng budget,” Cajayon-Uy said during the House plenary deliberations.

"The SUCs are considered as the 4th biggest losers in the budgetary allocation... Had the Department of Budget and Management or any concerned agency ever informed you of the reasons for these unkindest cuts?” asked Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr.

"The main culprit of cuts is the capital outlay. Based on record, in GAA 2022, the capital outlay of SUCs is about P13.6 billion. But for NEP 2023, it’s only within P2.9 billion. So 100 percent of SUCs have been given sharp cuts, deep cuts sa capital outlay,” SUCs’ budget sponsor, Surigao del Norte 1st District Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas, explained.

The resolution of the Makabayan bloc noted cuts for personnel services in 17 SUCs, while 115 others are also experiencing huge cuts for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE). 

The total budget for MOOEs of all SUCs decreased by 4.81 percent or P1.72 billion. 

Meanwhile, 83 out of 116 SUCs will sustain big decreases in their capital outlay, after it was cut by 78.69 percent.

The Makabayan bloc's resolution said it is only "just and reasonable" for the House to restore the cuts.

"Di natin maintindihan na kahit na sinasbaing priority daw ang edukasyon pero tila ba ay lip service lang ang sinasagot sa atin pagdating sa pagtugon doon sa tunay na mga problema natin sa education sector," Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel said when he led the filing of the resolution.

ACT Teachers Party List Rep. France Castro slammed the budget cut on most SUCs’ MOOEs, which she said usually results in hiring contractual non-teaching personnel, instead of providing plantilla positions for them.

"For more than 30 years, hindi binibigyan ng budget ang SUC para makapag-promote sila ng non-teaching personnel. Ang nangyayari tuloy, ginagamit ang savings para makapag-hire ng contractuals… Lahat ng SUCs, except for one school, ay tinapyasan ang MOOE. At isa sa mabibigat na epekto nu'n ay mababawasan pa lalo ang kapasidad ng SUC na mag-hire ng non-teaching staff,” Castro said.

Manuel, meanwhile, also noted that the budget cuts in SUCs contradict the law on universal access to quality tertiary education.

"The slashes incurred by the DBM ay walang sapat na batayan. Di naman pwedeng ang ating SUCs ay bigla na lang magbawas ng kanilang enrollees or mag-drop ng kanilang estudyante para mag-adjust sa pagkaltas sa kanilang budget,” he said.

Several lawmakers called for additional budget for SUCs next year.

"It’s a sad thing that the DBM reduced drastically the budget of SUCs. In fact, all the SUCs are requesting that their budget to be augmented for fiscal year 2023. This representation is one with them," said Matugas.

"All of us, five sponsors of different SUCS, are one with the SUCs in asking the help of this august body to augment their budget for fiscal year 2023 so they can perform their mandate to provide quality education to our students,” he added.

CHED BUDGET

Manuel asked how the Commission on Higher Education plans to help poor tertiary students next year given the budget cuts in its proposed 2023 funding.

"Paano na ‘yung ating mga estudyante? Lalo na at maraming line items sa proposed budget ng Commission on Higher Education yung either mayroong kaltas o kulang ‘yung pondong ilalaan?" he said.

"Halimbawa, yung Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, under nito yung Free Higher Education programs sa ating SUCs… Pangalawa, ‘yung Tertiary Education Subsidy, kung saan karamihan sa beneficiaries ay private school students. Pangatlo, ‘yung Tulong-Dunong program na isa sa Student Financial Assistance programs ng CHED,” he added.

"Masakit man sa kalooban ng CHED family, they cannot accept new scholars, simply because budgetary constraints is a big problem. However, for all existing scholars, they will be continued until they finish their tertiary studies,” CHED’s budget sponsor, Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin, replied.

“The leadership also assured that if there will be measures to look into the possibility of augmenting funds for scholarships, lalo na’t kapag guminhawa na ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas, ito po ay mabibigyang tugon,” she added.

Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza, meanwhile, noted that for 2022, lawmakers identified a possible source of funding from 2021 continuing appropriations for the scholarship of at least 10,000 additional tertiary students.

"There were some available funds identified from the previous year’s appropriations, 2021, which we will work on to be utilized by end of this year, which will be at least 10,000 -12,000 students. And my understanding is it will be at least P400 million for this year… We will have at least 10,000 students who will get new scholarships this year,” he said.

The House of Representatives terminated on Wednesday the plenary debates on the proposed 2023 budget of SUCs and CHED. 

RELATED VIDEO:

Watch more News on iWantTFC