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Teachers slam drastic cuts in proposed Duterte 2019 education budget

By Alliance of Concerned Teachers
August 15, 2018

QUEZON CITY – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers lambasted the hefty cuts in the proposed education budget of the Department of Budget and Management for 2019, saying that the Duterte regime’s purported prioritization of human resource development is a “big farce,” as far as education budget is concerned.

“The drastic cuts in the proposed education budget for 2019 more accurately mean ‘human resource destruction’ than development to teachers, students, and the whole nation,” said Raymond Basilio, ACT Philippines Secretary-General.

The DBM-proposed education budget is 6.4% or P44.87 billion lower than the approved 2018 budget for education. The Department of Education is about to suffer an 8.9% budget slash which is equivalent to P51.8 billion. It is in fact 28% short of what the agency requested. Despite the enactment of the Universal Access to tertiary Education Law, budget for State Colleges and Universities will still be decreased by .07% or P45.95 million.

Basilio expressed dismay over DepEd Secretary Briones’ quick retraction of the criticism on the looming budget cuts on the agency, saying that “DepEd exposes itself as spineless in standing up for the interest of teachers and the rest of the education sector.”

“The cuts spell further hardships to education workers on pay and workload, worsening shortages on facilities and materials, and greater inaccessibility of education to Filipinos,” Basilio stated. Aside from President Duterte’s salary increase promise being amiss in the budget, personnel services allocation in the education sector will effect cuts of P6.4B in personnel benefits and P19.8B decrease in allocation for the creation of new teaching and non-teaching items.

The long overdue increase in the allotted special hardship allowance proposed by the Department of Education was totally disregarded. Funds for the implementation of medical treatment and annual health examination of teachers guaranteed in the 1966 Magna Carta, as well as budget for benefits under the collective negotiations agreements were practically non-existent in the draft budget.

“It seems this government is condemning education workers to slow death. While it wrings us of indirect taxes under the TRAIN Law which will fund 39% of the 2019 budget, it deprives us of our legitimate and legal pay. It denies us further of additional teaching and non-teaching personnel much-needed to alleviate overwork which has caused the death of our colleagues recently,” complained Basilio.

The proposed budget for DepEd and SUCs reflect big slashes in the allocation for facilities repair and replacement, procurement and computers, laboratory equipment, textbooks and manuals, and construction of new buildings.

“The cuts are tantamount to the further decline of quality and access to education. This is destructive to the nation’s human resource, especially the next generation. Mr. President, you always say that you cannot just watch our youth being wasted on drugs, but by abandoning education, you let them go to the dogs!” called out Basilio.

However, it is remarkable how payment of vouchers to private schools remains to be included in the top 10 items with the biggest allocation in the budget for education, with a P5B increase for DepEd’s SHS Voucher Program to private secondary schools.

“Instead of investing in public schools which can accommodate large numbers of pupils for years, it would rather hand out public funds to private businesses,” noted Basilio.

The proposed budget will effect as well an 84% decrease in budget for all state colleges and universities.

“The Duterte government now carries out the paralyzation and the eventual death of SUCs. It only goes to show how insincere this regime is in implementing free tertiary education,” Basilio concluded.

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