The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines -- Students of the University of the Philippines gave a preview of the protest they plan to mount for President Benigno Aquino III’s state of the nation address on Monday, staging a “freeze mobilization” inside the campus.
Assembling at a drumroll, members of STAND UP, or the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in the University of the Philippines, occupied a portion of the lobby of Palma Hall, standing motionless with placards bearing messages demanding increased subsidies for state colleges and universities, increased wages and oil price rollbacks.
The students said these are among the concerns that Aquino should address in his SONA.
They then chanted: "Education not for sale! We are not for sale!" and “Walang pagbabago sa ilalim ni Aquino (There is no change under Aquino)!”
In a statement, the youth group Anakbayan belied claims by the Department of Budget and Management that the budget of state colleges and universities had been increased in the proposed 2013 budget.
"The DBM spinmeisters cannot be believed for they have been lying during the past two years regarding the SUC budget. Year after year they issue statements saying the SUC and education budgets have increased but once we take a closer look at the figures, we see budget cuts and grossly insufficient funding," Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairman and Kabataan party-list spokesman, said.
In reality, he said SUCs implement hikes in tuition and other fees to jack up their incomes.
For example, Crisostomo said this year, UP has "rebracketed" most of its students, hiking tuition rates from P1,000 per unit to P1,500.
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines, meanwhile, increased its miscellaneous fees by as much as P500.
State schools from the Cordillera Region have proposed a 300 percent hike in tuition while many other SUCs have reported tuition and other fee hikes, pointing to insufficient funding as the reason, Crisostomo said.
"If you look closely, the 'hike' in the budget is partly due to the implementation of a tranche of the Salary Standardization Law, which is mandated by law and not a deliberate effort to increase funding," he said.
He said the DBM statement boasting that the budget for capital outlay increased by 16 times is "clearly misleading" because capital outlay for this year is zero for almost all schools.