Restore budget cuts of UP, PGH— CamSur Rep. Bordado

Published September 22, 2022, 5:53 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. has called on his colleagues to restore the budget cuts of the University of the Philippines (UP), particularly the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), during the budget deliberations for state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. (Photo from Bordado’s Facebook page)

“So Madam Speaker, Mr. Sponsor, if it will depend on us, I am categorically and strongly calling for the restoration of the budget cuts of SUCs and the University of the Philippines particularly the Philippine General Hospital, Madam Speaker,” the lawmaker said, addressing the presiding chairman, former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Arroyo, and the bill’s sponsor, Surigao del Norte 1st District Rep. Bingo Matugas.

During the Wednesday, Sept. 21 plenary session, Bordado reminded his colleagues that the 1987 Philippine Constitution mandates “that the education sector should be given the highest budget priority.”

He lamented that the Department of Education (DepEd) was given an increase in budget, while the budget for the tertiary level “has been suffering reductions.”

Based on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to Congress, the SUCs proposed budget is only P93.3 billion, P28.3 billion of which was allocated to educational institutions based in the National Capital Region (NCR), including the entire UP System.

“Now Madam Speaker, Mr. Sponsor, based on the records here, the SUCs are considered as the fourth biggest losers in the budgetary allocation,” he said.

He cited the budget cuts on the Marikina Polytechnic College, which dropped to 80.92 percent, while the Marinduque State College had a slash of 79.97 percent.

The Romblon State University had a budget cut of more than 63 percent, Bordado said, adding that the Central Bicol University of Agriculture’s budget was cut by more than 51 percent.

Matugas explained that the “main culprit” of the cuts is the capital outlay since the DBM only allocated a P2.9-billion budget for capital outlay for SUCs, compared to the P13 billion under the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“So, hundred percent of all SUCs have been given cuts, sharp cuts, deep cuts sa (in the) capital outlay, Your Honor, Madam Speaker,” the lawmaker said.

He agreed with Bordado that the SUCs need more budget, adding that “all the SUCs are requesting that their budget be augmented for FY 2023.”

“This representation is one with them and all of us five sponsors of the different SUCs are one with the SUCs in asking the help of this august body to augment their budget for FY 2023 so that they can perform their mandate to provide quality education to all our students, Mr. Speaker, Your Honor,” Matugas said.

Noting that the youth labor force participation rate of Filipinos aged 15 to 24 is already at 36.9 percent, Bordado stated that the budget cut suffered by the SUCs in the proposed budget might force the youth to work rather than attain tertiary education.

“The recent P10.85 billion budget cut for SUCs makes it seem like there is less emphasis placed on tertiary education in the country, which is detrimental to our overall goal of providing the best education for our citizens,” he said.

Matugas agreed that the “main motivator for tertiary education is the cost of education” as he hoped that Congress “will use the power of the force as given by the Constitution to augment as you have mentioned earlier the budget of our state universities especially CHED, especially for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education.”

“If we can restore budget for that, I think students, out of school youths will be motivated to go to tertiary education,” he added, citing statistics that showed an increase in enrollees in SUCs because of the government’s free education program.