Around 8,000 join unity march against education budget cut in PUP

SEPTEMBER 20, 2011

Pauline Gidget Estella
National Deputy Secretary General

Around 8,000 join unity march against education budget cut in PUP
Other schools stage creative activities, gear for strike

The youth is now in a formidable show of force.

Today, on the first day of the strike, some 8,000 students, faculty and employees in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Sta.Mesa joined the unity march against the education cutback, as youth in other schools staged their own activities for this “strike week.”

The students started marching at around 9 A.M., and were joined by administrators including PUP President Dante Guevara, who supported the shutdown of the campus.

“The demands of the PUP community are not ambiguous. The P146 million net cut on the budget for state universities and colleges (SUCs) clearly shows that this government does not respect our right to education. If we have to close down the institution and flood the streets for this government to listen, then so be it,” said Rommel Aguilar, PUP Student Regent.

Although there is an increase in the PUP budget for 2012, the allocation still falls short of the required budget, said Pauline Gidget Estella, national deputy secretary general of College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the widest alliance of student publications in the Philippines. “Whether or not there is a budget cut, the fact that the allocation for education is grossly insufficient cannot be disputed. It is one invulnerable argument that the state functionaries cannot contest,” she explained.

The PUP students will be on strike until September 23, the national day of action against budget cut. On this day, students from other schools, along with members of other sectors, will march to Mendiola to “engage the state in a discourse,” said Estella.

Flash dance and freeze mob

Other schools were also gearing up for their own strikes through their own set of actions. In UP Diliman, for instance, organizations held a program in Palma Hall steps and staged a “freeze mob” in CASAA, one of the food centers in the university. To draw attention to the call for greater state subsidy, a handful of students remained immobile for several moments.

In UP Manila, students held a “flash dance” in Gusaling Andres Bonifacio cafeteria and launched the jingle titled “Born This Way-Budget Cut,” a parody of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. Some students wore laboratory gowns with “no to budget” written on them to signify the measly subsidy for health services as well.

Tomorrow, UP Diliman will be on its first day of strike, while UP Manila will launch “Dodge the budget cut,” a dodgeball event.

Schools in other regions also held equally creative activities. For instance, in UP Los Baňos, students marched in the campus carrying a caskette with “RIP Education” written on it. They also attached crosses with “Resurrect on September 23! Save Our Education” to bulletin boards and rooms.

“Students have crafted creative activities and engaged in massive build-up actions. These are a concrete manifestation of the youth’s rage against the systemic neglect of social services,” said Estella.