Sen.Pia slams budget cut on state universities

News Release
25 November 2015

Transcript of the manifestation of Sen. Pia S. Cayetano
Chair, Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture

Topic: On the 34% reduction in the capital outlay for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs)
Senate 2016 budget plenary hearings

Mr President, I just like to put on record certain observations I have. I’ve discussed this at length with CHED and with many of the SUC presidents and the representations of the SUCs, but I need to put this on record so our colleagues are also aware of the concern that I have.

Mr. President, every year we glue ourselves to the results that come out on the front page and on the news for a couple of days about the world rankings of our education institutions, and yet, when the time comes to reflect our concerns on the budget, we are never able to fully support the educational budget that is needed to truly increase, in a significant way, the performance and the rankings of our universities.

And so I put this on record, Mr. President, as a challenge to all of us that until we are able to accept that we do not have universities that are of world-class standards, we will continue to have these problems. And I know some of my colleagues have mentioned it. When you look at the capital outlay of the SUCs, in 2014, it was P3.9 billion, in 2015 it was P8.7 billion, and now in the NEP, it is P5.72 billion, which is a decrease of 34 percent.

And the answer given to me during the committee hearings is that these were capital outlay projects that have already been completed, or that these are also insertions made by legislators that are no longer carried over [to the following year]. But my response to that Mr. President is when we look around, we do not see state-of-the-art educational institutions. So why is it that the capital outlay should not continually be made and, in fact, increased?

I do not understand the logic that the capital outlay would be decreased because one project is ‘finished.’ In other words, if I ask all of the presidents here to go back to their universities, yes, natapos yung request nila para sa isang auditorium, pero yung science lab hindi pa tapos, yung track oval hindi pa tapos, yung center for their engineers, or for their bio plants[?], or what not, never pa naumpisahan.

So this is my appeal to my colleagues and the chairperson and the vice chair – that before we close the debates, we seriously look at what we intend for education in the Philippines. Because to put it bluntly: Let’s not pretend that we are prioritizing education with this kind of budget.

And the same goes for the University of the Philippines. I sit on the board and if you look at the capital outlay in 2015 it was P4.6 billion, now in the NEP it’s P1.44 billion. Through the efforts of the vice chair, with the support of the chair, it went up to P1.8 billion. But it was P4.6 billion last year and if I go to UP, I cannot say that this is the best university in Asia, or whether this is the third or this is the fourth?

I’ve asked my staff, anyway, but I wanted everyone to see that if you look at our spending in ASEAN we are no.7 next to Myanmar. No, no.8, I was generous. We are no.8.

So my dear colleagues, seriously, let us just declare as a body that education is not a priority. At least, sasabihin ng taumbayan na hindi natin sila niloloko. Let’s just tell them that education is one of our lofty goals, because that’s what it is when you look at the budget.

This is my last speech as a senator defending this budget. I join everybody here, I think they are the state university presidents and college presidents [referring to people in the gallery], and that is the frustration that they have. And when we look at it again because of the normative budgeting, I have no problem with accepting what the priorities are, I have a problem with the budget as a whole, not just the budget that CHED is working with, but with the budget of the entire country.

So I ask the vice chair to join me in really trying to overhaul. And our Senate President Pro Tempore said that he is game to help us look for additional funding – because this is a joke. To add two billion [pesos, to capital outlay] will not even bring it back to where it was last year. So anyway I rest my case, but that is what I appeal to my colleagues. I have a lot more data but you can look it up, your staff can look it up, with the touch of a finger, nowadays it’s very simple.

But I do need to add one more thing: We are in a unique position now that we are making a transition to K to 12. This is the perfect time for the college instructors and professors to take advantage of educational opportunities, and there is an P8.2-billion fund which is part of the ‘transition fund’ [to K to 12] that they can avail of.

That golden opportunity – whether P8 billion is enough – I remember when it was first presented to me it was a P24 billion long-term plan. I think this has been reduced. So that’s where we are. We need to take advantage of this. Because if we don’t, then were back to the grind. And the senior high school graduates will enter college with the same dedicated teachers, but unfortunately without those additional experiences [and training] that they could have taken advantage of now.

So thank you Mr President. My challenge to my colleagues remains. Thank you. #

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