Students Chide Malacañang over 2007 Budget Impasse

23 December 2006

“They’re like the Grinch hiding in Santa Claus’s clothes.”

This was the pronouncement of the National Union of Students of the Philippines over Malacañang’s persistence to pass the 4.7 billion peso-worth school feeding program in the 2007 budget. Senate wanted to realign the said budget to school buildings and hiring of teachers citing that the feeding program will only be used in the 2007 elections. However, the House counterpart wanted the budget passed without Senate alterations.

Congress recessed on Thursday without passing a 2007 national budget. This will be the fourth time in President Arroyo’s incumbency that the country will run on a reenacted budget.

“We, the students, will not be used by the hypocritical charity of Mrs. Arroyo for their campaign in the 2007 elections. We agree with the Senate that the root of corruption must be weeded out from the budget,” declared NUSP President Marco Delos Reyes.

He explained that malnutrition and hunger among the Filipino students “can only be addressed sincerely by bringing livelihood to the families, and not by giving temporary and paltry food.” Delos Reyes added metaphorically, “It is very ironic. Government removed income for food from the Filipino families when they increased VAT, but now they want their candidate’s names to be put on the plates to be served to the school children.”

“The Senate approached the problem properly as they wanted the fund realigned to school buildings and hiring of additional teachers. We see that as a better investment,” said Delos Reyes.

However, the student union also expressed their apprehension that the reenacted budget will still be used in the coming May elections. They explained, “In 2004 we also had a reenacted budget. That gave the incumbent much discretionary funds that they used for campaign like the fertilizer scam, Philhealth cards, etc.”

This early, NUSP called for vigilance over the coming 2007 elections from the youth. “These are the events foreboding. The youth must prepare to stand and protect the sanctity of the ballot.” ###


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