Student councils oppose education budget cut, urge government for total cancellation of debt servicing instead

24 09 2010

For immediate release

GIBBY GORRES – (0917) 362.7480

SCAP Secretariat – (0916) 5510.526

Student councils oppose education budget cut, urge government for total cancellation of debt servicing instead

State University student councils who are members of the national organization Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) vehemently denounce the expressed intention of the government to cut education budget for the next fiscal year.

University of the Philippines College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council and SCAP-NCR Chair Oyie Javelosa said that the direct effect of the intended budget cut against the education sector will unquestionably further marginalize the sector and might even contribute to the rapidly disturbing increase of out-of-school youth.

Using the SCAP data, the presumption is that government schools will be 1.7% lower than last year’s budget.  Together with its allied organizations Akbayan Youth and Movement for the Advancement of Student Power, SCAP pushes foreign debt cancellation as a clear-cut alternative to shun away from any contemplation of slashing education budget.

“Of course the government is aware of the real depressing situation of our education system. We don’t have to make them realize that. What we intend to press on is the fact that mere political will to stop debt servicing or even deplete the funds being appropriated thereof would undeniably address this seemingly recurrent problem”, asserted Javelosa.

From the P1.64 trillion budget proposal for FY 2011, State universities and Colleges (SUCs) are about to receive P23.08 billion marking an obvious more than one percent drop off from last years fund.

“With the new administration, hope exists that maybe, youth concerns on proper financing will be properly addressed since for the past years, whenever budget deliberations come, the issue on budget especially for education sector appears to be perennial even if the tenable answer is quite obvious. We really urge the legislators to put the option of refusing to pay debts in a greater consideration”, said Gibby Gorres, SCAP Deputy Sec-Gen.

Two of the primary state universities UP and PNU, as expected, are greatly affected. Philippine Normal University’s budget slashed by 23.59% while UP is about to receive the blow of P1.3 billion in budget cut.

The said youth groups with broader coalitions will stage mobilizations outside the House of Representatives once the deliberations have started to express non-appreciation of the budget cut and to relay their message of concrete alternative.

“We don’t just steal scenes and destroy public properties to demand. We propose alternative that is deemed material and may bear essential output. It is the government leaders’ duty to respond appropriately and prioritize what is due for the people” Gorres quipped. ##

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SK Abolition Halted, Iloilo youth orgs laud DILG Sec’s commitment to reform SK

25 08 2010

REPRESENTATIVES from the SK Reform Coalition main office in Metro Manila and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jessie Robredo on Tuesday agreed to amend the Local Government Code of 1991, particularly amending provisions on the Sangguniang Kabataan, Katipunan ng mga Kabataan and its powers and duties.

The dialogue was set to finally settle confusion on the issue of the SK Abolition. After the said meeting Secretary Robredo committed to carryout massive reform measures to empower the SK instead of abolishing the institution.

By this, the local partner youth organizations of the SK Reform Coalition are elated of the DILG Secretary’s commitment.

“We gladly welcome Secretary Robredo’s support in the initiative to deliberately reform the SK as an institution that directly involves the youth in governance”, says Kenneth Eusebio the First Time Voters’ Network (FTV) Iloilo City Coordinator.

“Secretary Robredo’s added commitment will make the SK Reform initiative gain ground and all the more gain acceptance among SK abolitionists”, follows Eusebio.

FTV recently joined calls in forwarding SK Reform amidst the initial pronouncement of President Aquino regarding the fazing-out of the said youth governance body.

Among the salient points which the SK Reform Coalition representatives and Robredo agreed on was the increasing of the age bracket of youth participants from 15-17 to 15-25. The two groups agreed to this in order to broaden participation and representation of the sector.

Also agreed during the consultation was the creation of a Youth Consultative Body or Youth Development Council, which will be composed of local youth organizations in the barangay. This body will act as the youth development arm of the barangays.
Akbayan Youth Iloilo City Coordinator Wharson Arguelles says that, “This common agreement on what to reform in the SK is an important step towards enhancing the organizational capacity of the SK to be responsive to the needs of the youth in the Barangays as well as expand the participatory reach of the institution”.

The mentioned agreements are included in the SK Reform and Empowerment Bill (House Bill no. 468) of Akbayan Party-list filed by its representatives Arlene Bag-ao and Walden Bello last July 1 which will be enhanced with the agreed amendments and submitted in a draft bill by DILG to Malacanang.

“We expect that the enhanced version of the Bill will be out very soon and that the next step will be done through legislation in Congress”, Eusebio supplements.

“However, we are not keen on expecting action from just pronouncements”, quickly adds Arguelles “Though we are very optimistic of the Secretary’s expressed support, we will try to see if such support be translated to real and concrete actions for reforming the SK”.

Read the rest of this entry »





Student Council Alliance Endorses ‘Hontivirus’ Candidacy

16 04 2010

Press release
Contacts: Gio Tingson@0908.887.7166
Catherine Calopez@0927.430.6969
16 April 2010

'HONTIVIRUS' DANCE CRAZE. Members of SCAP danced to the beat of Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros' campaign jingle during the organization's press conference on Friday. The alliance of student councils endorsed the LP guest senatorial candidate at the Greenhouse Restaurant in Quezon City.

SAYING that they are confident that Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros will continue her admirable job as a lawmaker once voted to the Senate, the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) on Friday endorsed the candidacy of Hontiveros, who is running as a guest senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party.

“Rep. Hontiveros consistently pushed for the welfare of different sectors as seen when she authored several bills including the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform, which was passed into law,” said SCAP president Gio Tingson of Ateneo de Manila University in a press conference held at the Greenhouse Restaurant along Matalino Street in Quezon City on Friday.
Tingson added that Hontiveros gained their trust because of her unwavering conviction to push for the Magna Carta of Studen Rights and Welfare (STRAW) and bills to reform the Sanggunian ng Kabataan.
“Risa and SCAP have the same policy advocacies and we believe that once in the Senate, she will continue he work of advocating youth and student rights,” Noted Tingson, who together with SCAP secretary general Catherine Calopez and other members even danced the “Hontivirus” dance craze.
Calopez of Philippine Normal University, meantime, said that SCAP agreed to endorse Hontiveros candidacy because they believe that there is a need for progressive and transformative lawmakers in the country.
“We believe in the politics of Risa Hontiveros. We will not only endorse her candidacy but we will campaign for her,” said Calopez during the press conference.
Also present during the event were SCAP vice for Visayas Patrick Ladrito of University of San Agustin, SCAP vice chair for Mindanao Ivan Samson of St. Michael’s.
Accepting the endorsement for Hontiveros was Machris Cabreros, who said that Hontiveros was very happy that she made an impact to the youth sector.
SCAP has a 120-strong membership which include University of Asia and Pacific, University of the Philippines (UP), Univesity of Santo Tomas (UST), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), San Beda, Mindanao State University, Nueva Viscaya State University, Western Mindanao State University and UP Visayas. (end it)

Student Council Alliance
of the Philippines
_______________________
RESOLUTION ENDORSING ANA THRESIA “RISA” HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL AS THE ALLIANCE’S SENATORIAL CANDIDATE IN THE MAY 10, 2010 NATIONAL ELECTION
Whereas; Hon. Risa Hontiveros is the main author of the Students Right and Welfare Bill also known as the Magna Carta of Students Bill;
Whereas; she is also the author of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms Law;
Whereas; Risa Hontiveros has proven herself as a true political leader and as a steward of students’ rights and welfare;
Whereas; SCAP endorses a candidate who pushes for education reform and agrarian reform in the country;
Whereas; SCAP region II, recognizing the needs of progressive and transformative leaders in our country, voted unanimously to endorse Risa Hontiveros as senatorial candidate in the 2010 national Election;
Resolved therefore; that the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) endorses and supports Risa Hontiveros as the Alliance’s Senatorial candidate this coming May 2010 National Election;
Resolved further; that SCAP takes necessary measures to ensure a seat for Risa Hontiveros in the senate slate;
Proponent:
LUZON REGION

Approved:
SCAP 7th National Congress
April 14, 2010





Kick Con-Ass! Student Councils Denounce HoR’s move to Railroad ChaCha

3 06 2009

Media Person: Eriza Dapitan (eriza.dapitan@gmail.com)

Youth group, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), denounced the administration solons brazen move to railroad Charter Change proposal in House of Representatives, yesterday, June 2, 2009.

Kick Con-Ass!

House Bill 1109 introduced by House Speaker Prospero Nograles was approved before 12 midnight of June 02, where legislators supporting the convening of Congress as a Constituent Assembly to change the 1987 Charter defeated the minority, in the plenary vote on Charter Change (ChaCha).

“This is yet again a slap on our democracy. GMA allies have gone way too far. They should prepare for the ultimate consequence of this action, mass protests will definitely greet them starting two o’clock this afternoon in St. Peter’s Church, Commonwealth,” says SCAP Secretary-General, Paula Bianca Lapuz.

The Alliance has retained its opposition against GMA’s ChaCha since it was first proposed in 2007. The group was quoted saying that they believed that “the Government’s motivation for changing our current political system is to ensure the political survival of the beleaguered presidency of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo.”

SCAP emphasized in its previous statements that “genuine pursuit of necessary and essential reforms in our political and electoral system could never take place under the present administration.”

Hence, the Alliance reiterates that initiatives for genuine political reforms must come from groups, institutions and individuals which/who have the moral and political ascendancy to lead the process of Charter Change, otherwise this process might just be used to further curtail the civil and political rights of our people.

Furthermore, the youth group cited that our people’s participation in the process of Charter Change is of utmost importance, if only, to legitimize the whole process.

“Doing ChaCha through Con-Ass is the highest form of treason. The administration cohorts in the lower house have betrayed the people yet again. Instead of prioritizing laws like Magna Carta of Students or the Extension and Reform of CARP, GMA allies chose to pass Con-ASS bill hastily, with great prejudice to minority leaders who had still wanted to raise arguments against the faults of the bill,” adds Lapuz.

Having condemned ConASS, SCAP maintained its stance that Charter Change could best serve the interest of the people if done through a Constitutional Convention, where delegates will be voted by the people in order to convene an independent body which will tackle revisions and/or amendments in the charter.

CARPER at Magna Carta of Students HINDI CHACHA

“Kick Con-ASS! That’s what we are saying. No to Charter Change under the GMA administration! Let’s not bring this country to an absolute political fiasco,” quips Lapuz.

“Student groups forming the Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) have been lobbying incessantly in the House of Representatives (HoR) during the past weeks in order to get the Magna Carta of Students passed at the committee level. It is very frustrating to see our legislators passing a bill which is highly detrimental to our democracy. We cannot tolerate this blatant disregard of the real important bills, which will in fact, help our people, especially our farmers and students greatly,” says coalition spokesperson Jamie Pring.

“We are deeply saddened by the developments in the lower house; we wish that Congress would tackle Magna Carta of Students and the Extension and Reform of CARP instead of insisting to convene a Constituent Assembly. This is a very crucial moment for genuine political reforms to take place and we are appalled to witness the slow death of our reform agenda in HoR especially if our legislators themselves are putting them off, case in point, the ChaCha Express,” adds Pring.

SCAP, being a co-convenor of the coalition, reminds solons that young people will not hesitate to go out in the streets again to show their indignation of this government’s outright mockery of our country’s democratic institutions and processes.

SCAP and the Coalition for STRAW are praying that key reform bills will be passed before the recess of Congress. Likewise, they are registering their protest against ChaCha.

“EDSA dos is likely to happen again. Young people are not ignorant; we saw and felt the youth power in 2001. This government never learns, as if GMA was not installed through the EDSA II uprising. We will ensure that our voices will be heard. HoR should legislate Magna Carta of Students NOW and as well as CARPER,” Lapuz concludes.

Magna Carta of Students has been pending in Congress for more than a decade already. No substantial discussion was brought out in the past to get it moving. The coalition hopes that through more rigorous lobbying, congress will finally legislate this into law.

CARPER was just passed in the Senate while the House was busy tackling Con-ASS. HoR closed without passing the bill in the plenary.

####





Student Leaders Urge Government to Uphold Juan’s Human Rights; Starting with Genuine Political Reforms

10 12 2008

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, youth group, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, a broad network of Student Governments, will march with Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and other multi-sectoral groups today, December 10, 2008 to pressure the government to implement crucial political reforms and as well as to denounce any moves to change the Philippine Charter before 2010.

The said mobilization will highlight the issues of the poor and the marginalized, particularly the landless farmers and the urban poor masses. The event is at the same time, a demonstration of the civil society’s discriminating view on the current efforts to amend the constitution.

“Our calls are quite simple, one, Congress has to pass CARP Extension with Reforms before they go on Christmas break on the 17th; and two, legislators should not force CHACHA before the next national polls,” quips SCAP National Secretary-General, Paula Bianca Lapuz.

“It seems that GMA allies in HoR are not wasting time in reviving moves to convene Congress as a Constituent Assembly. While we (SCAP) are busy encouraging “would-be” First Time Voters in 2010 to register starting this month, our legislators in the house are also busy gathering more signatures for CHACHA, with an open intent of extending GMA’s term beyond 2010. This is the height of unethical and trash politics,” adds Lapuz.

The Fight for Land Reform Continues…

“There are still hectares of undistributed land across the country to this date ever since CARP has expired last June, 2008. Farmers have been waging war against undaunted landlords over the past two decades. It’s about time that we, as a nation, recognize that this struggle is not just the farmers’ alone but ours as well, this is an issue of poverty alleviation and food security,” adds Lapuz.

Although, solons in June have adopted joint Resolution No. 21, with the Senate maintaining the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of the CARP until December 31, 1.1 million hectares still remain undistributed.

Thus, SCAP strongly supports calls to pass House Bill 4077 which seeks to extend CARP with significant reforms.

Amidst the present global financial crisis, we must secure our local economy and resources.

The Campaign Against CHACHA before 2010 starts all over again…

In a statement last 2007; the alliance said “We believe that the Government’s motivation for changing our current political system is to ensure the political survival of the beleaguered presidency of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo. Genuine pursuit of necessary and essential reforms in our political and electoral system could never take place under the present administration.”

“And we see no difference this year, we maintain our stance on GMA’s CHACHA,” says SCAP Vice-Chairperson for NCR and UP Manila Medicine Student Council President, Tina Langit.

“To push for Charter Change amidst the pressing political crisis is a suicidal step for GMA, the people simply won’t allow it,” Langit continues.

SCAP believes that the true measure of a matured and performing democracy lies in the capacity of the State to promote and uphold the basic rights of its citizens.

Hence, the Alliance reiterates that initiatives for genuine political reforms must come from groups, institutions and individuals which/who have the moral and political ascendancy to lead the process of Charter Change, otherwise this process might just be used to further curtail the civil and political rights of our people.

Widen Democratic Spaces for Political Participation

The group stressed the importance of the people’s direct participation in our democracy.

“We call on all our lawmakers to prioritize bills such as CARPER which would ascertain our farmers’ rights to till their own lands and to give precedence to other landmark bills which can further guarantee the fulfillment of the rights of ordinary Filipinos, such that they will be able to contribute to the simplest and most intricate aspects of nation building.” Langit concludes.

SCAP reckons that maximum political participation of vulnerable / marginalized sectors in a democracy can only be achieved through the peoples’ conscious practice of their basic human rights and the State’s sincere effort to ensure that these rights are fully enjoyed by its people.###





GMA, eight years hence…

26 07 2008

As Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recites her litany of superficial achievements and elusive promises on Monday, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines will certainly watch her with a critical eye.

The Past is the Present

SCAP believes that GMA has been merely placing band-aid solutions on the real problems of the society, much more she has failed, time and again to address problems that concern her very office.

The past is the present. Poverty, corruption, electoral fraud, diminishing democracy, traditional politics, betrayal of public’s trust, etc; the past is the present. What we saw eight years ago is the same thing that we are seeing here today. There is nothing new and we expect nothing new from Ms. Arroyo.

The Real State of the Youth

Ms. Arroyo will definitely embrace the youth sector once more as she delivers her eight State of the Nation address. She will be bragging about the millions of pesos that her government has placed on different scholarship programs, about the additional budget that was allotted to the sector.

Apparently, the Alliance sees these as desperate attempts to pacify the unyielding youth.

CHED stated that the standing growth rate of college enrollees in A.Y. 2004-2005 in both the Private and Public sector is a disturbing -0.8 %.

The percentages of grade school and high school dropouts have increased dramatically from 7.67 % and 8.5 % respectively in A.Y. 2000-2001 to 10.57 % and 15.81 % correspondingly in A.Y. 2005-2006. Less and less of our students make it to the finish line. Additional figures show that only 56.76 % of elementary students and 54.14 % of high school students are able to graduate from their particular courses, a great decrease from the 66.13 % and 70.62 % completion rates of grade school and high school students in A.Y. 2000-2001. [i]

As of 2004, only 27% of Filipinos aged 25-64 years old are able to attain a college diploma.[ii]

The Philippine Higher Education has also lagged behind our neighboring countries in terms of its quality. It ranked no. 62 within 2007-2008, a notch lower from that of 2006, according to the World Economic Forum.[iii]

If Ms. Arroyo is saying that her government has been spending more for the education sector than any other past administration, well, SCAP evidently believes that no government has spent enough. At least, no Philippine administration has met the international standards for education spending which is supposedly pegged at 6% of our Gross National Product as prescribed by the Delors Commission of the UNESCO.[iv]

In addition to all these, the education sector remains to be deregulated and commercialized. Educational institutions are mere idle bodies which cannot address the real problems of the sector.

The Quest for Truth, Accountability and Reform Continues…

SCAP joins the civil society and the progressive bloc in calling for truth, accountability and reform in all the democratic processes in our country.

Demanding for Truth…

If Ms. Arroyo is sincere with her war against corruption and fraud, she should begin by coming out clean and by commanding all officials who were involved in the controversial ZTE-NBN deal to speak out instead of circumventing constitutional provisions such as the “Executive Privilege” to protect political interests.

This is not the first illegitimate debt that our country has incurred. Moreover, Ms. Arroyo should recount all our country’s illegitimate debts and pressure the legislators to push for a congressional debt audit.

This, time and again, shows that while majority of our people are suffering from price hikes in all forms of commodities, some people have the knack at getting billions from government procured contracts at the expense of the greater poor.

This should rattle if not enrage the conscience of our government knowing fully well, that corruption is happening beneath Ms. Arroyo’s nose, if we even consider giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Exacting Accountability…

Ms. Arroyo, above all else, should stop blocking the impeachment process in Congress. Her administration is too immersed in scandal and controversy that coming out from an impeachment trial is the only constitutional mechanism that could vindicate her, if she’s not proven guilty that is.

This SONA, once again, will be a venue to exact accountability from Ms. Arroyo and her government.

Sustainable Reforms…

SCAP unites with all those who are pushing for the extension and reform of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Millions of farmers are at the brink of losing their lands once more while others would never have the chance of owning their own lands. The odds are great when we talk about Agrarian Reform; the elements of warlords threaten this progressive bill. SCAP therefore renews its challenge to Ms. Arroyo to urge congress to pass CARPER and to subject their (Arroyo’s) lands to the program, which she should have done years ago.

Aside from AR, SCAP also challenges the Arroyo administration to seriously engage a transparent electoral reform agenda to redeem the already degraded Commission on Elections which Ms. Arroyo herself has damaged. As the national polls near, SCAP is again wary of confronting a disenfranchised youth sector. The COMELEC, more than anything else, should be at the forefront of pursuing a conscientious voter’s education program. The government should revive the people’s trust in democratic institutions such as the COMELEC; otherwise, our country will certainly go to the dogs.

Above everything else, the government should focus on creating more equitable economic policies/solutions to resolve our country’s economic problems instead of incurring more unfair trade deals and illegitimate loans from foreign powers.

The Present is OUR Future

With our present state, SCAP sees a bleak future for the youth. It is very appalling to learn that the youth will inherit a very damaged government. It is even more alarming that we are being honed in this kind of society.

As always, SCAP demands for truth, accountability and reform.

We demand to repeal the Education Deregulation Act 0f 1982.

We demand for the immediate passage of the Students Rights’ and Welfare Bill.

We join with Youth Against Debt in calling for an Automatic Appropriations law  on Education allotting 6% of our GNP to the Education Sector instead of diverting the large bulk of our budget to debt servicing.

We join People Against illegitimate Debt in demanding for a Congressional Debt Audit.

We support all mechanisms that will exact accountability from all the wrong doers in our government, including, Ms. Arroyo.

We stand hand in hand with the farmers in pushing for the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER).

We demand for a genuine electoral reform agenda.

MAKIBAHAGI, LUMAHOK SA PEOPLE’S SONA!

 

Venue: St. Peter’s Church 10 A.M.

Date: July 28, 2008; Monday

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines Official Statement on GMA’s SONA

Media Person: 09052403585 Alvin Quintans


[i] Benjamin Diokno, Real State of the Nation, 20 July 2007 , citing DepEd

[ii] UNESCO/UISWEI(www.uis.unesco.org/publications/wei2006); OECD countries: OECD 2006 (www.oecd.org/edu/eag2006).

[iii] …this (higher education and training) pillar measures secondary and tertiary enrolment rates as well as the quality of education as assessed by the business community. The importance of vocational and continuous on-the-job training, neglected in many economies, cannot be overstated, as it ensures a constant upgrading of workers’ skills to the changing needs of the production system.

[iv] Youth Against Debt Six Will Fix Campaign





SCAP joins YAD’s Pre-SONA Activity

26 07 2007

Young activist confined themselves to a small cage –

Decried the country’s long incarceration to debt payments

Confined and crammed in a small cage, members of Youth Against the Debt [YAD] today dramatized the county’s incarceration to our grave debt problem describing it as one of the obstacle why attainment of genuine economic development and distribution of much needed social services like education are negligible. Read the rest of this entry »