Starting yesterday, the University of the Philippines Diliman went on strike to oppose the Aquino government’s continuing neglect of its responsibility to state universities and colleges.
San Juan Representative JV Ejercito paid a visit to the AS steps, where youth leaders, UP officials and some of his fellow congressmen spoke for greater state subsidy. He said more than 100 lawmakers have signed a manifesto supporting the call for state support for tertiary schools.
Student Regent Kristina Conti said such a manifesto, though nice, is really an empty gesture because there isn’t any overt action accompanying it. Sure, you want more financial support for state universities, but where’s the money?
Kabataan Partylist Representative Mong Palatino, meanwhile, said that however determined Congress might be to increase the budget of SUCs, Aquino will still have the final say. Even if both houses of Congress agree to add to the budget of state schools, when the budget bill reaches Aquino’s desk he can still choose to veto such additions. This is why it’s a good idea to pressure Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management about state subsidy for SUCs, he says.
In 2010, Aquino said, “We are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent” because they had the “ability to raise their income.” By income-raising ability, he probably means leasing public lands meant for academic use in shady and nonbeneficial deals, or shifting the burden to supposedly state-funded scholars by charging them higher tuition and laboratory fees.
The sad truth is that Aquino’s outlook on quality state-supported tertiary education in the Philippines is this: “I don’t give a shit.” He does not care about training and creating our future engineers, social scientists, artists, journalists, filmmakers and novelists. He does not care about securing the country’s industrial, cultural and social future.
He does not care about the future of this country.
His communications team will, of course, say that he does, and will point to his myopic programs—the Conditional Cash Transfer and Public-Private Partnerships—as evidence. Perhaps some will believe their drivel.
But those of us who know what’s really at stake, who really understand why there is such an uproar over Aquino’s admitted policy on quality tertiary education in this country, know that he has no sense of history, that he has a complete lack of ability to see beyond the horizon. Any president who looks at quality college education as an unwanted burden on the state does not understand what quality college education really means, especially if that president went to a private university and is a rich haciendero.
It’s only been two years since his ascent to power, but we all know that for all the history and prestige he used to climb to the top, he will be a forgettable president.
We will not forget.