THE budget cuts for the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education will cripple state universities and colleges and technical vocational institutions in the implementation of the Free Higher Ed law.
There are cuts in the 2020 General Appropriations Bill amounting to P12,412,676,000 in the total budget of the Commission on Higher Education, Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses of State Universities and Colleges and in the total budget of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Primary agencies with crucial items that implement the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education incurred cuts in the 2020 budget.
Under the Ched budget, the item Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education had a P7.15-billion cut. Under the Tesda budget, the Promotion, Development and Implementation of Quality Technical Education and Skills Development Programs had a P280.49-million cut. While budget for 53 SUCs had cuts in their overall budget, some having zero budget for Capital Outlay and the P57.76 million was slashed in the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses in the whole SUC budget.
These are alarming figures that does not follow the provisions of RA 10931 saying that the state shall provide adequate funding and such other mechanisms to increase the participation rate among all socioeconomic classes in tertiary education. Instead of providing adequate funding to increase participation rate among all socioeconomic classes, budget for essential items and agencies in the implementation of the law continue to be slashed.
The 2020 budget is a war budget against the rights and welfare of the people. The P4.1 trillion prioritizes the funding of anti-people policies that curtail the rights of the people while providing inadequate budget for social services. The cuts in the implementation of the Free Higher Education Act is just one program that have massive cuts that provide services for the people. These cuts would only cripple the implementing agencies instead of strengthening the program. We urge Congress to restore the cuts in the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, budget for the MOOE and capital outlay of SUCs and Tesda. Let us not abandon our responsibility to the people in providing adequate funding for the Free Higher Education law. –France L. Castro, ACT Teachers party-list