ByBernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times
Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Sunday urged senators to restore the budget cuts in the education sector.
He made the appeal as the Senate is set to deliberate on October 7 the budget of the Department of Education and its attached agencies.
"Education is a continuing public expenditure that naturally grows proportionately with the burgeoning population," Marcos said in a statement.
"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." Marcos said Congress should exercise its power of the purse to ensure that budgetary constraints would not hamper concerned agencies from carrying out their functions properly.
He pointed out that the Education department will not be able to operate properly to further improve the education sector if it lacks the necessary budget.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) sought a budget of P62.3 billion for 2022, but it was reduced to P52.6 billion on the recommendation of the Department of Budget and Management, or a slash of P9.6 billion.
Marcos said this meant "zero allocation" for the implementation of the Doctor Para sa Bayan Act, Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, Republic Act 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 will also affect state universities and colleges nationwide, particularly those in Mindanao.
"Education is a very important weapon toward economic recovery in the face of the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic," Marcos said.