MANILA — Thirty-six state universities and colleges (SUCs) are calling on Congress to restore their funding after a P6.155-billion cut in the proposed budget for 2024.
According to a joint statement shared Sunday by Kabataan party-list, 30 state schools face budget cuts next year based on the 2024 National Expenditure Program, the basis for the General Appropriations bill.
School officials pointed out that the majority of the cuts would affect capital outlay, or spending for "facilities, equipment, and other investments that will serve these institutions for periods longer than the next fiscal year."
The cuts, they said, were made despite the "increasing" budget for the free higher education program, adding that it means the government anticipates an increase in enrollment.
"[An] additional budget is needed for our learning institutions to regain their public character and provide ample support for student services and faculty development," the SUCs said.
"If our state universities and colleges are to be expected to do their duties, they must be funded accordingly."
The budget department has proposed a P100.88-billion budget for SUCs next year, which is 5% lower than the 2023 outlay.
Proposed funding in 2024 is also less than a third of the P331.3 billion the SUCs requested.
'MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER'
The 36 SUCs — among them are the University of the Philippines and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines — noted that pandemic school closures have had a negative impact on the quality of education on all levels.
They also stressed that the Philippines' higher education system has been in a "crisis for a long time."
That's why, they said, "[i]t is more important than ever for the government to recognize, respect, and protect the Filipino people's right to education."
"[T]he current state of our education system fails to adequately cater to the needs of our students due to inadequate financial support," they said.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel lauded the unity statement of the 36 SUCs.
"Hinihikayat natin ang mas marami pang opisyal, estudyante, guro, kawani, magulang at iba pang bahagi ng ating komunidad na tumindig para sa edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan — para sa kinabukasan ng bayan," he said.
(We encourage more officials, students, teachers, staff, parents, and other parts of our community to stand up for the education of our youth — for the future of the country.)