This coming 24 July 2006, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) will be delivering another set of promises in her State of the Nation Address (SONA) supposedly to help eradicate poverty, promote development and build sustainable peace. However, the Filipino youth and students can't help but wonder where all these promises will lead to.
Lest we forget, this is the same Mrs. Arroyo, pretending to be president who at the zenith of the Edsa 2 uprising recited a litany of promises and guarantees allegedly to defend and advance the genuine interest of the people, especially of the youth and students who gave power to Edsa 2. And yet, these promises, much more the pledge of assurance from Mrs. Arroyo, are still waiting to be fulfilled.
Five years under the disputed leadership of Mrs. Arroyo, the Filipino youth and students are uneducated, indebted and hungry. Last year alone, the education sector's share in the fiscal pie went down by 27.9 percent. A large part of the education budget just went to financing personnel services while funding for books, buildings and teaching tools was a measly 4.1 percent. Our country only spends 2.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) on education while comparable countries within the Medium Human Development bracket spend an average of 4.41 percent according to the recent United Nations Human Development Report.
Proof of this is the dismal state of our educational system. As of now:
1 in 10 Filipinos has never gone to school (6.8 million)
1 in 6 Filipinos is not functionally literate (9.6 million)
4.1 million are illiterate
11.6 million youth are out-of-school
More than half (51 percent) of Filipinos had at most elementary education
Out of 1000 Grade 1 pupils, only 688 will finish their elementary education and only 7 will acquire the required competency skills
Of 100 students that enroll in Grade 1, only 13 will finish college;
The Philippines has one of the most crowded classrooms in Asia. Class size is 55 to 56 students per classroom. ¨ Classroom shortage is more than 44,000 despite Mrs. Arroyo's recent pronouncement that there are no classroom shortages.¨ Textbook shortage is pegged at 25 million.¨ Public school teacher shortage is close to 50,000¨ 8.5 percent of schoolchildren are malnourished. Public schools are lacking in a comprehensive school-based, institutionalized child nutrition program.
On the other hand, debt servicing has been increasing in proportion to the total annual budget. From 2002-2005, the average debt to expenditure ratio is 63.60 percent of our national budget. Concretely, during this short time, Mrs. Arroyo spent a total of Php2.83 trillion just to pay onerous and unjust debts. Enough money to augment much needed social services. Enough money to help jumpstart the depressing state of our educational system. As of end April 2006, the total outstanding debt of the national government stood at Php3.996 trillion while its contingent liabilities reached P580.9 billion. Concretely, this means diminished resource allocation to much needed social services like education. This also means, every single Filipino including the newly born has a debt of Php46,901.
More than ever, under the tutelage of Mrs. Arroyo, the Filipino youth and students have never been more uneducated and drowned in so much debt.
Truly, ang utang ni Gloria na lumolobo ay lubhang nakakabobo!
This is the real situation of the Filipino youth. This is what Mrs. Arroyo is not talking about in her blissful SONAs. This is the problem yearly being drowned in empty promises, hollow rhetoric and orchestrated standing ovations. This is the crisis our government is refusing to admit and address.
Without a doubt, this year's SONA will be like all previous SONAs: rich in theatrics and promises. Nothing more, nothing less.
Because of this, the Filipino youth reaffirm their commitment to safeguard and press forward our genuine right to quality, relevant and accessible education for all. This coming 21 July 2006 Friday, we will give this government a taste of what it can expect from the militant youth and student movement come SONA time. In a time when turncoatism and hopelessness seems to define this particular juncture of our history, the Filipino youth and students will remain vigilant, militant and unwavering in their responsibility to help build a better future—free from debt, free from Gloria.
Thus, our calls remain. Education for all!Repeal the Automatic Appropriations Law on debt servicing!Convene a Congressional Debt Audit!Rechannel budget for debt servicing to education and other social services!Oust the fake Arroyo regime!
19 July 2006
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) http://www.freedomfromdebtcoalition.org
Laban ng Masa (LnM) http://www.labanngmasa.org/
Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Kabataan (ALYANSA)
Filipino Democratic Student Union (FDSU)
Kabataan Kontra-Kahirapan (KKK)
Liga ng Sosyalistang Kabataan(LSK)
Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP)
SANLAKAS Youth (SY)
Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP)
Samahang Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK)
Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND)
MORE PHOTOS: http://www.freedomfromdebtcoalition.org/gallery/