HOUSE PANEL OKS PROPOSED 2024 BUDGET FOR SUCs
By Dang Samson Garcia
THE HOUSE Committee on Appropriations has approved the P100.88 billion proposed budget of State Universities and Colleges for 2024.
During a hearing, Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges President Tirso Ronquillo confirmed that with budget limitations, SUCs can only accept students based on their absorptive capacity despite competitive admissions.
Thus, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel lamented the P4.1-billion deficiency for the Free Higher Education program.
“Balewala ang pangako ng libreng edukasyon sa kolehiyo kung kakaunti lang pala ang posibleng makatamasa nito dahil ‘di kaya ng ating mga pamantasan tumanggap ng mas marami. Ang laki po ng proposed infrastructure budget pero parang wala sa picture ang ating SUCs. Kung gusto natin ng infrastructure or investment na may multiplier effect, dapat sa edukasyon ito. Maraming henerasyon pa sa hinaharap ang makikinabang sa pagkatuto ng ating kabataan,” Manuel said.
He also rebutted remarks about limiting the free higher education program of the RA 10931 on top of existing budget cuts against SUCs.
“Kung may ‘di nakakapagtapos ng kolehiyo tingnan natin ang totoong mga dahilan kung bakit kaysa sabihing sayang ang pagpondo sa kanilang pag-aaral. Isang dahilan ay may out-of-pocket expenses pa rin habang nasa pamantasan. Merong mga estudyante madiskarte pero kung may burden na unnecessary, alisin na po natin. Di lang dapat tanggalin ang financial burden during enrollment pero habang nasa loob din ng pamantasan habang nakikipagsapalaran sa college life,” the lawmaker added.
Kabataan Party-list is a principal author of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
Manuel stressed that free education should be expanded and improved, rather than limited.
In line with this, the lawmaker filed House Bill 1151 or the Adequate and Accessible University Services Bill to ensure food, health, and housing services in campus that make-up much of the financial burden of students.
The youth group is also set to file a Resolution urging Congress to restore the budget of SUCs and augment funding for the public tertiary education system as a whole.