SUCs gear up for national strikes vs. budget cuts

STUDENTS, faculty, administrators and other employees of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) today gather to intensify what they call the “battle plan” for the biggest anti-budget cut protests in years.

“Paint the town red”

According to Vencer Crisostomo, Secretary General of Kabataan Party-list and spokesperson of the anti-budget cut alliance Kilos na Laban sa Budget Cut, “the historic solidarity of different sectors within SUCs have set ablaze the fight against the proposed slashing of SUCs budget for 2011. Now, we are immersing ourselves to intense organizing and conceptual work since we will be launching the biggest-ever strike against the machinations of the Aquino administration.”

Attended by SUCs from the National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon, the gathering geared up for a massive protest on December 1, 2010 at the Senate, where the national budget is under deliberation. In the past two weeks, thousands have poured into the streets as Senate deliberates on the national budget.Crisostomo said that the upcoming protests will “shake the sense out of the Aquino administration” to stop the budget cuts.

“The Aquino government would do well to heed the call of the people against the budget cuts. Otherwise, we will continue on painting the town red, as it were, with determined and militant protest actions nationwide,” Crisostomo said

“Brush up on their reading skills”

Despite the strong opposition of SUCs against the budget cuts, Malacanang yesterday reiterated its prescription that SUCs commercialize and dip into their own resources. Sentors Franklin Drilon and Vicente Sotto, on the other hand, have countered the claims of budget cut as unreal and unfounded.

“The Aquino government justifies the budget cut by claiming that SUCs should commercialize to fill up budgetary deficits. What does this effectively mean? It means that tuition rates will once again increase in SUCs and that Aquino is bent on changing the nature of SUCs as schools for the can-afford. This is inadmissible,” Crisostomo said.

“The claims of Senators Franklin Drilon and Vicente Sotto that the budget cut is fictive cannot but appear as downright wrong. The slashing of the operating expenses and the zero budget for capital outlay are not part of the “congressional insertions” which have been removed from the 2011 proposed budget. They would do well to brush up on their reading skills or get a better research team,” he added.

Spirit of solidarity

Earlier this week, the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) has vowed to go full-force in joining the national protests against the budget cuts. In Congress, around 100 lawmakers have signed the petition against the cuts, as initiated by Rep. Raymond Palatino of Kabataan Party-list.

“The peddled lies and machinations of the Aquino administration and its cohorts cannot and will not douse the strong spirit of solidarity of the people against the budget cuts. We grow stronger in asserting the democratic right of every Filipino to quality and accessible tertiary education,” Crisostomo said.

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