Friday, September 23, 2011

SUCs Strike against budget cuts, Malacanang issues budget "insufficient" accdg. to SUCs

SUCs Strike against budget cuts,
Malacanang issued budget "insufficient" accdg. to SUCs

About 8.000 students from different State Colleges and Universities marched hand in hand to Mendiola last Friday fighting for greater state subsidy as well as against budget cuts.

Known as "The March for Education", the University of the Philippines, as well as member schools of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges marched from Diliman, Sta. Mesa, and others directly to Mendiola all against the policies laid by the government especially those of cutting its budget on education.

The protest even featured a mass planking of students in Mendola, that according to the organizers, a "record" as protesters converged and planked altogether as a form of protest. That, according to Raymond Palatino of the Kabataan Partylist, 20,000 students, teachers, and SUC officials took part in mass planking, walkouts and marches in nationwide protests.

"The nationwide strike embodies the outrage of our SUCs against the inaction of the Aquino administration to reverse the cuts and provide sufficient funding for our public universities," he said in a press statement Friday.

However, according to Malacanang, it has proposed a P5.54-billion budget for UP in 2012, higher than this year’s P1.39 billion but not enough as it goes far from the estimate P18 billion UP needed for its campuses according to student groups. The budget cut even likely to justify increase in tuition and other fees in SUCs same goes in Private schools who oppose yearly increases. The policy Malacanang made rather realizes its side effect as President Aquino in his budget statement last year stated that there were indeed cuts in SUC spending:

“We allocated P23.4 billion to 112 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in 2011. This is 1.7 percent lower than the P23.8 billion budget for 2010. We are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent..”

Student groups meanwhile also said the budget “contains an overall cut of P569.8 million” for some 50 state schools. Some 220 SUCs will share the budget as enrollment increases in public tertiary schools amid rising tuition in private schools. Self sufficiency had limits, as it negates the essence of being a State-supported institution such as a university, that even other State supported entities such as hospitals also faced problems such as lack of medicine and supplies like those of Fabella Hospital in Sta.Cruz Manila according to Einstein Recedes in his speech.

Students who joined this week’s protest came from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, UP Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology, Rizal Technological University, Bulacan State University, Philippine Normal University as well as Private schools such as University of the East and University of Sto. Tomas.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Driver's strike paralyzed over Metro Manila in response to the growing oil prices

Driver's strike paralyzed Metro Manila, provinces
in response to the growing oil prices

Last 7:00 AM, drivers around the Philippines staged a nationwide strike especially in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The protests are made in response to the Overpricing on oil, Value Added Tax, Oil Deregulation Law, and other Government policies that resulted to mass discontent of drivers trying to earn a living. And according to Elmer Labog of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, a beginning of much bigger protests to be wage upcoming month.

Originally a joint protest with the Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators (Acto), Pasang Masda, and the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap), the three backed out of the planned protest following the meeting with President Noynoy Aquino, leaving PISTON and other smaller transport groups go on with the strike.

According to PISTON Secretary-General George San Mateo, “We did not get any guarantee from the President that he will do something about high fuel prices,” justifying the militant organization's stance to push through the driver's strike.

The protests continued still all despite Government interference to quell the actions. In Philcoa, Quezon City, protesters were forcibly driven away by the policemen in Commonwealth Avenue as part of the strike, while the former even done Planking in the road as part of the protest; while in Valencia, Bukidnon, where protesters are being harassed by the police.

There is even a commotion between DOTC Secretary Manuel Rozas III and Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino in Cubao, after Roxas told to Casino and Bayan Muna not to get involve with the protests - justifying Casino's anger telling him that the people are greatly affected by the increase in oil prices made by oil companies and an "inutile Government". After the commotion, security guards as well as policemen tried to disperse the protesters.

Meanwhile, the government, especially the Armed Forces issued free rides for commuters in the main thoroughfares over Metro Manila. And issued a threat as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) warned operators and drivers against joining the transport strike, although LTFRB board member Manuel Iway said the agency would impose penalties only if transport routes are paralyzed. Some 5,000 uniformed policemen are deployed today in Metro Manila to ensure peace and order during the jeepney strike by militant transport groups.

But the protests remained dominant all despite threats as according to the reports, nearly 60 up to 100% of jeepney routes all over Metro Manila are paralyzed, including Camanava reaching 85%. In Monumento, Caloocan city, almost 100 jeepney drivers stopped driving and joined the protests, while members of Anakpawis, Gabriela, Anakbayan, Kilusang Mayo uno and Confederation of Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees also joined the protests in support for the drivers against Oil Deregulation and Overpricing of oil products. In Laguna, 85% of all public transport routes are paralyzed especially in San Pablo City and Calamba same as in Mindanao, where Davao City reached 92% with ten schools including Ateneo de Davao having their classes suspended, Cagayan de Oro with 80%, and Iligan City with 90%.

In assessment, the protests, as what KMU's Elmer Labog said, would create another round of strikes as the government fails to seriously heed the call of the masses in midst of the prevailing socio-economic crisis.