According to Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, the senators are unanimous that the funds set aside for state colleges and universities (SUCs) will not be cut for 2021.
“Insofar as the Senate is concerned, the unanimous consensus is that SUCs are no-cut zones, insofar as their NEP budget is concerned. They have been vaccinated against budget cuts,” said Recto on Wednesday.
“Calls for academic freeze will not be met with a funding brake. The correct response is not to defund any, but to increase the funds of as many as possible,” he added.
Duterte also accused UP of recruiting communist rebels inside their campus.
“‘Yung mga eskwelahan, UP, fine. Maghinto kayo ng aral, I will stop the funding. Wala nang ginawa itong ano kundi mag-recruit ng mga komunista diyan,” he said in his weekly address.
However, it was ADMU students and not UP students who launched calls for an academic strike to protest the government’s “criminally neglectful” typhoon and COVID-19 response.
Senate will not slash funds of SUCs amid Duterte’s threat to UP
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan called the removal of UP funds “legally infirm.”
“Why are the students protesting? Let’s go back to that. This is not unique to the Philippines… And I was a student leader and activist during my student days in UP,” Pangilinan said in an ANC interview.
“The youth will always be a source or a catalyst of change. I think more than anything else, if you try to stop that, you’re going against how history unfolds. They are who they are, the youth and students will always be catalysts of change,” he added.
In the National Expenditure Program of the 2021 budget, P20.8 billion is earmarked for the total UP System.
According to Recto, the initial funding approved by the Department of Budget and Management for SUCs could be increased if lawmakers see the need.
The Senate is currently dismantling the government’s budget proposal for 2021, worth P4.5 trillion.