SCAP Joins Protest on Budget Hearing for Eductaion

13 09 2007

A protest rally organized by Youth Against Debt [YAD] greeted the House of Representatives’ scheduled budget hearing on basic eductaion today, demanding the striking out of payments of the controversial World Bank textbook loan project from the 2008 National Government Project.

The youth group carried placards fashioned as books with slogans like “librong nakakabobo, utang na lumolobo” [Balooning debts, Stupefying books] and “strike out payments of textbook loans from 2008 budget” to highlight their calls and demands. They also mounted book effigies in front of the main gate of the lower house, to dramatize what they described as “the current education system’s debt creating policy.”

“While everybody is busy with the National Broadband Network issue, an anomalous is also plaguing the eductaion sector. This time, it has successfully invaded the eductaional textbooks of our young people,” Bianca Lapuz, YAD Spokesperson said.

Lapuz is refering to the the $100M World Bank loan meant to fund 17.5 million textbooks and teacher’s manual for public elementary and high schools. However, high profile fraud and power play issues involving the World Bank, Inter-Agency Bidding and Awards Committee [IABAC] and the Vibal Publishing Book reportedly marred the project. It was also reported that atleast 60, 000 textbooks were found to have inverted or erroneous pages. The proposed repayment for 2008 of the said loan is $5.6 million.

“Now we ask, why must we, together with our parents who are already burdened with huge amounts of debts incurred by our government be made to shoulder additional loans that hav eonly managed to give us erroneous books?,” Lapuz quipped.

The youth together with the Freedom from Debt Coalition [FDC] is a vocal critique of illegitimate debts – debts that were incurred by the governments to fund flawed development projects or loans that were entered under farudelent contracts and corrupt practices.

“Truly, this is a clear case of an ‘illegitimate debt’ due to the fact that it is riddled with so many irregularities from the lack of competitive bidding, blatant creditor meddling up to the production of defective books,” Lapuz said.

We demand our legislators to strike out payments of the said loan from the 2008 budget and to re-channel the funds to augment the miniscule budget of state colleges and universities.We also urge the 14th Congress to conduct a legislative inquiry on the issue to untangle the web of controversies surrounding it and to punish all personsand establishments involved in the deal,” Lapuz said.

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