FILIPINO progressive group Anakbayan expressed its disappointment with the participants of this election’s first Philippine presidential debate in Cagayan de Oro City due to their failure to talk about relevant youth issues and their penchant in issuing motherhood statements which actually meant nothing.
Anakbayan chairman Vencer Crisostomo said the failure of the presidential candidates — Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Grace Poe, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and former Interior and Local Government secretary Manuel Roxas II — during last Sunday’s debate to tackle the issues concerning the continuing commercialization of Philippine education could cost them a lot of votes. He reminded these candidates that 40 percent of the total registered voters in the coming election are youth voters.
At the same time, Crisostomo chided Roxas, a neo-liberal economist, for defending President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and his neo-liberal policy like the commercialization of the country’s education system. This continuing Aquino policy, he explained, is the reason for the regular tuition hike and the difficulty of the poor to access quality education.
According to the neo-liberal doctrine, government’s are not in the business of subsidizing health, education and other public service programs. These programs are better left with the private sector hence the rising costs of these services.
“Another six years of Daang Matuwid under a Roxas administration would lead to the perpetuation of tuition hikes…and more suffering of the Filipino youth and people,” stressed Crisostomo.
Crisostomo noted that under the Aquino administration, the average cost of tuition in private schools doubled from P30,000-P50,000 (US$652-US$1,086) annually to P60,000-100,000 (US$ 1,304- US$ 2,173) during a five year period from 2010 to 2015.
The revenues collected from students by State Universities and Colleges likewise increased from P8 billion to P13 billion (US$ 173 million to US$ 282 million) for the same period of time. Worse these state universities and colleges suffered budget cuts which is also why they have to collect more from poor students.
Crisostomo said these five presidential candidates should hold Aquino accountable for the for the unbridled commercialization of Philippine education.
Anakbayan earlier blamed the Aquino administration for the suicide of Jessiven Lagatic, a graduating student of Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) after losing his scholarship. Lagatic, who killed himself last Feb. 11, was reportedly being asked to pay P7,000 (US$ 152) in school fees to continue his education.