By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Sunday urged Congress to restore the cuts in next year’s budget of the Department of Education and its attached agencies for these institutions to effectively improve the standard of education in the country.
Marcos stressed that education is a continuing public expenditure that naturally grows proportionately with the burgeoning population.
“Therefore, budgetary allocation for public schools and related facilities, and new alternative learning systems and platforms on account of the pandemic, academic and support personnel compensation, scholarship and related academic entitlements and continuing education for teachers should be spared from budgetary cuts,” he said.
“This is the only way Philippine education can keep up with international standards and make Filipino graduates globally competitive,” he added.
With the Senate set to deliberate this week on the budget of the Department of Education and its attached agencies, Marcos Jr. appealed to the senators to restore the cuts in the agencies’ budget.
The former senator pointed out that education is crucial to the country’s development and Congress should exercise its power of the purse to ensure that budgetary constraints would not hamper the concerned agencies from carrying out their functions properly.
“How will our country develop if our education is not good just because the institutions that administer it cannot operate properly due to lack of budget?” he asked.
Marcos was reacting to reports that the Department of Budget and Management slashed the budget of the DepEd and its attached agencies in the National Expenditure Program submitted to Congress.
The Commission on Higher Education sought P62.3 billion for 2022, but it was reduced to only P52.6 billion on the recommendation of the DBM, or a cut of P9.6-billion.
This means zero allocation for important programs such as the implementation of the Doctor Para sa Bayan Act, Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, RA 11448 or Transnational Higher Education, Medical Scholarship and Return Service, Construction of the Proposed Higher Education Development Center, among others.
Also affected in the budget cuts were the funds to improve CHED’s regional offices, the Transnational Education Program, and Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, which gives free tertiary education.
The budget cuts would also affect state universities and colleges across the country, particularly those in Mindanao as the allocations for all state universities, except for one campus, have been slashed.
“Education is a very important weapon towards economic recovery in the face of the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic. We need to make sure that the agencies in charge of the country’s education have sufficient funds so that we can recover,” Marcos stressed.