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Tomo 23 Special Sona Issue July 23, 2001  Internet Edition

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Because of GMA's 'lack of political will',
Undergrad tuition hike looms

A betrayal of students' trust

This was how College of Mass Communication Student Council Chair Emil James Mijares described President Gloria Macapagal's move to retain last year's UP budget. According to Mijares, Macapagal is no different from her predecessor, ousted president Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who prioritized the AFP modernization over education.

"Karamihan sa naging dahilan ng pagkakaluklok niya ngayon ay mga estudyante pero hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin niya
tinutugunan ang kahilingan natin para sa mas mataas na
budget," he said.

"Salubungin natin ng kilos protesta ang una niyang State of the Nation Address (SONA) upang ipaalala sa kanya na hanggang ngayon ay wala pa siyang konkretong programa para sa edukasyon," he added.

The University Student Council (USC) supported the call, expressing dismay over Macapagal's "lack of political will." USC Councilor Lara Cabusao said that one of the main reasons for Estrada's ouster was his failure to recognize the need to develop education through higher budget.

"A week after Estrada's ouster, we presented to Macapagal our demand for higher financial allocation in our Youth Agenda but she has not done anything substantive until now," Cabusao said.

TFI and STFAP Again

Meanwhile, if the Mecapagal administration would slash UP's budget once again, this would translate to another round of tuition increase this time for the undergraduate level.

President Francisco Nemenzo is now considering an undergraduate tuition increase as a means to augment UP's income given the government's plan to freeze 20 percent of the UP budget.

"I'm not going to promise na walang tuition increase," Nemenzo said. He added that the parents would understand the move, rather than for UP to provide mediocre education to the students.

Nemenzo also admitted that the STFAP has failed to deliver its promise of equitable tuition to students. He has created a committee to draft reforms for the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).

The proposals of the committee might be implemented next
year. The revised STFAP is expected to ensure that subsidy
would be distributed more equitably to UP students.

Flaks from the USC

The USC, however, remained critical of both the STFAP revision and the possible tuition hike.

In a dialogue with the Board of Regents (BOR) two weeks ago,
the UCS argurd that the increase for the graduate level was
illegal because of the failure to consult graduate students as well as the USC, as provided by the Commission on Higher
Education (CHED) memorandum no. 13.

USC Vice Chair Michael Andrada said that in spite of the veritable facts they have presented that the consultations were improper, the BOR has hastily dismissed their proofs.

Nemenzo, however, remained adamant that there was no need to consult the student council as only the affected students should be consulted. He also claimed that contrary to Andrada's claim, the STFAP expenses often excedeed its allotted budget. He said that the poor students are the ones who need subsidy, thus the rebracketting of STFAP

Andrada denounced the STFAP as an "income generating scheme" as well as a "smokescreen" for tuition increase. He estimated that the UP administration generates 100 million from STFAP yearly and contributes 30 percent of UP's revolving fund.

"Noong wala pa ang STFAP P40 lang per unit. Ngayon umabot na ng P300 per unit," he added.


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