Earlier, Kabataan Party-List Rep. Mong Palatino gave a talk at a students rights forum in UST, hosted by the Central Student Council. That week, the student councils of UST launched its renewed campaign for the approval of the long-stalled “UST Students Code”.
It was the last week of lecture classes for the second semester of our first year in law school. By tradition, we have something special on our last day of lecture class for most of our professors. On Tuesday, we had some sushi in class right after our last lecture in Criminal Law 2. Earlier, Mong took me to the congressmen’s lounge to have late lunch. I bumped into Congressman Socrates of Palawan, who is a senior fraternity brother.
As the national government continues to cut down spending on the country’s 110 state universities and colleges (SUCs), students carry the burden of the steep cost of higher education, Kabataan Party-list Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino said. In the proposed national budget for 2010, allocation for SUCs will be slashed by 13 percent or a whopping P3.2 billion, thus forcing SUCs to generate income mostly from students.
Based on the 2010 National Expenditure Program, bulk of SUCs’ projected income of P10.2 billion will be sourced from tuition fees (P4.59 Billion) and other income from students (2.23 billion). Palatino said “SUCs are being forced to rely less on government subsidy and more on internally-generated income in the form of tuition and other fees and privatization of assets. Unfortunately, the burden of financing tertiary education is placed on Filipino students, many of whom will be unable to afford it,” Palatino said.
The young solon said trimming the SUC budget would be “sadistic and ultimately anti-student,” especially since more and more students are flocking to SUCs. For school year 2009-2010, CHED enrolment data show a “migration” of students from private higher education institutions (HEIs) to SUCs mainly as a result of the continuously rising cost of education in private tertiary institutions amid the economic crisis.
Palatino said the government’s Medium Term High Education Development Plan, which directs SUC’s to “rationalize tuition by implementing the full cost of education in public HEIs” is to blame. “It is clear that the government is in the framework of eventually relinquishing its responsibility to subsidize SUCs and public HEIs. It is abandoning its obligations to provide education to the Filipino youth,” he said. “State schools are being treated no longer as national agencies entitled to sufficient government subsidy, but as income-earning and commercial entities. Students and the youth are no longer seen as future nation-builders, but as mere clientele for capitalist educators,” Palatino said.
Palatino vows to push for greater state subsidy for education in the ongoing budget deliberations. “Again, the best and most well-meaning resolution for this would be to re-channel funds for some items in the Office of the President’s budget to education,” Palatino said. As an example, he cited that the P1 billion alloted for the Telecommunications Office, an agency different from the National Telecommunications Office, would be put to much better and significant use if allocated instead to SUCs.
Solon urges students to transform Ayala into “˜one giant classroom’
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Mong Palatino today said that classes may have been suspended due to precautions over the AHN1 virus but a different kind of virus is spreading among youth and students. “Precautionary measures over the AHN1 have caused the delay of the start of classes in colleges and universities this Monday but a more contagious virus is spreading among our youth and students today. It is the A-CA virus, the anti-constituent assembly virus, and more and more are being afflicted and there’s nothing we could do to stop it,” Palatino said.
Palatino said that youth and students have all the reasons to be outraged over the blatant railroading of the con-ass resolution by administration allies in Congress. “We simply cannot allow con-ass to push through. The Arroyos and their allies can bribe or utilize government agencies all they want but they will be defeated by the defiance and collective action of our youth and our people. The only way to stop this atrocity is to go out and protest,” Palatino said.
Palatino also called on students to make good use of the unexpected vacation from school and join the Ayala protest on June 10. “Let us transform Ayala into one giant classroom. Walang klase pero doon tayo magklase sa lansangan. June 10 will be more educational and informative of the country’s current political state than all our lectures in school combined,” said Palatino. Palatino also called on school administrations that are against con-ass and charter change to encourage their students to join the June 10 protest.
Someone from Ateneo de Manila’s Matanglawin (student publication) interviewed me this afternoon after my class. It was about my opinion on Ako Mismo. I simply reiterated what I had expressed in my blog entry about the campaign. I’m not, at all, against individual efforts for personal growth and development. I’m not, at all, against individuals obeying traffic rules, being proud to be Filipino, paying taxes or participating in the electoral process by registering and voting, or volunteering for non-government organizations. In fact, I do them too. But let us not foster the illusion that these convenient actions are enough to change Philippine society, suffering from a tragic status quo caused by a ruling order.
What I’m against is the mentality of blaming individuals alone, and just ourselves for the country’s social ills, totally absolving the government that causes such conditions–and worse, branding such acts of holding politicians and administrators accountable as mere pagrereklamo and mindless blaming and finger-pointing. As long as the government is robbing us blind and is tragically failing to deliver social services to the vast majority of Filipinos who need education, health care and economic support, among others, no amount of charity work and volunteerism will be enough to sustain a long-term solution for our people. Besides, you pay for these services with your taxes. We all do. We have the right and the duty to demand what is due us. You do not turn a blind eye when you pay for a donut and you get a munchkin–or worse, nothing at all, and worse, dinukutan ka pa.
Yes, true enough, nasa sarili nga ang pagbabago. I’m not taking that against anyone. Pero may mas malaking sistema tayong kailangang baguhin. Let me post an excerpt from Kabataan Rep. Mong Palatino‘s speech at the national convention of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines.
Tayo ang pagbabago
May iba’t ibang inisyatiba upang pukawin ang makabayang damdamin ng kabataan. Positibo ito. Napapansin ko lang na ang binibigyang diin ay may kinalaman sa mga indibidwal na pagkilos ng mga kabataan.
Hindi na ito bago. Noon pa man marami na ang nanawagan ng pagbabago batay sa inisyatiba ng bawat isa. Kahit ang Malakanyang, nananawagan na ang pagbabago ay dapat magsimula sa sarili. Ang mga nasa kapangyarihan ay nananawagan rin ng pagbabago — pagbabago sa gawi, sa puso’t isipan.
Lumang ideolohiya na ito. Sinisisi ko ang dominanteng ideolohiya kung bakit popular ang ganitong mensahe. Di ba ito ang turo sa atin — na basta’t maging mabuting tao ka o mamamayan ay sapat na upang guminhawa ang lipunan. Huwag nang makialam sa pulitika; asikasuhin na lamang ang sarili at pamilya. Huwag nang magrali; huwag nang labanan ang dambuhalang sistema. Magsimula sa sarili. Ako mismo. Magpayaman, mamigay ng limos, magvolunteer, magpintura ng mga bahay. Sapat na ang mga ito.
Samantala, sila mismo — silang mga buwaya na nasa gobyerno — ay patuloy na nangangmkam ng yaman ng lipunan. Habang abala tayo sa ating mga sarili, sila mismo ay patuloy na nagkakalat ng lagim dun mismo sa ating mga komunidad.
Kaya ang sagot ay hindi ako mismo kundi tayo mismo ang magpapalayas sa mga masasamang elemento ng lipunan. Tayo mismo, sa ating sama-samang pagkilos ang lilikha ng pagbabago sa bansa.
Hindi simple ang manawagan ng pagbabago. Hindi ito nadadaan sa pag-iimbento ng mga makukulay na palamuti sa katawan. May sakripisyong kailangang ibigay ang bawat isa kung nais natin ng tunay na pagbabago. May interes tayong babanggain kung seryoso tayong kikilos para sa pagbabago. Makapangyarihan ang interes na ito. Mabagsik silang kaaway. Mapanganib na laban. Kaya hindi uubra kung nag-iisa lang tayong sisigaw ng pagbabgo. Ikaw mismo ay mabibigo. Dapat kolektibo, dapat sama-samang manawagan ng pagbabago. Dapat pagtulungan natin sa ating mga organisasyon kung anong mga mainam na paraan upang isulong ang pulitika ng pag-asa, pagbabago at pakikibaka.