Lower budgets for 10 state universities, colleges in 2016 – lawmaker

MANILA, Philippines – At least 10 state universities and colleges (SUCs) will get lower budgets in 2016, Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon revealed on Wednesday, August 26.

Aside from the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Mindanao State University (MSU), which have been mentioned in recent Rappler stories, Ridon said 8 other schools will experience decreases in their new general appropriations for 2016:

Rappler cross-checked Ridon's figures with the 2016 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

The total budget of SUCs have increased yearly since 2012, and the proposed 2016 budget of P43.77 billion is the largest since the Aquino administration started in 2010. 

"At first glance, the budget for SUCs in 2016 seems to be nominally bigger than last year's budget. But if we analyze each component of the budget carefully, one will see that the increase in the personnel service outlay actually hides the cuts in the MOOE and capital outlay (CO) components," Ridon said in a statement.

Aside from the 10 schools above, 59 SUCs will get a lower budget for their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), and another 40 SUCs will get a lower budget for their capital outlay (CO), or appropriations for the purchase of goods and services, Ridon said.

At least 20 schools appeared on both lists, which means 20 SUCs will experience decrease in MOOE and CO allocations. 

Ridon acknowledged, however, the "across-the-board" increase in the budget for personal services, or the payment of salaries, wages, and other compensation of government employees.

The lawmaker noted that the total MOOE decrease amounts to P477.8 million, with MSU-Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography getting the biggest decrease from P32.44 million in 2015 to P16.62 million in 2016.

As for CO, the total decrease for the 40 SUCs amounts to P4.14 billion. UP will experience the biggest decrease, while 3 other SUCs will get zero capital outlay allocations for 2016:

"What we cannot understand is the fact that we have a very wide fiscal space next year – P582.7 billion to be exact – so wide that we can even double the budget of all SUCs and still have plenty of room for more, yet we continue to cut the budget of our state schools," Ridon said. 

He added, "At the proper time, this representation will move for the reinstatement of the cuts made in the MOOE and CO allocation of our SUCs."

But on the sidelines of the Commission on Higher Education's budget hearing on Wednesday, Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan explained that, at least for capital outlay, it's only natural for the figures to go up and down.

"It's not something that is there all throughout, once you've spent for capital outlay, then it's done, you move on to something else which may not cost as much," she told Rappler.

An example of this is the P3.2-billion allocation for UP-Philippine General Hospital in 2015 – an item that is no longer included in the 2016 NEP. This caused the huge drop in UP's budget, from P13.14 billion in 2015 to P10.9 billion in 2016. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.