Pia: Finance panel approves 2020 budget for CHED, SUCs

The Senate Finance Committee has approved on Thursday (Sept. 19) the proposed 2020 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and 110 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the country, following a subcommittee hearing led by Vice Chair Senator Pia S. Cayetano. 

With the approval, CHED’s P40.78-billion proposed allocation for next year will be submitted for plenary deliberations, along with the P49.46-billion proposed budget for the 110 SUCs. 

The committee, on the other hand, deferred the approval of the proposed P15.40-billion proposed funding for the University of the Philippines (UP), pending the institution’s submission of required documents to the committee for review.


Cayetano, the panel’s vice chair, has expressed commitment to review the major cuts in the higher education sector’s proposed funding, with the goal of finding a way to bridge the gap, which CHED officials pegged at P11 billion. 


“The biggest concern of CHED and SUCs is that they have at least P11 billion [budget cut] that is meant to finance [various education programs]. Ito ang hahanapan natin ng pondo,” the senator said in an ambush interview after the hearing.

“These are [for] students who have previously been awarded scholarships, and then may incoming graduates din na mag-aavail [ng scholarships], so may shortage tayo diyan,” she further explained. 
Cayetano said she is already looking into possible sources for the additional funding, among which are unobligated funds from the agencies’ 2019 budget.

“Ang ine-expect kong makuha doon sa mga hindi nagamit, mga unobligated [funds] nila is around P8 billion,” she said, clarifying that the amount is still subject to verification. 

“We consider our human resources as the most important resource that we have. So their education is very important. I already have the source for funding. We just have to rationalize and prioritize projects,” she added. 

The senator further pointed out that the country can still do better in terms of financing the education sector. She cited that the government is spending only 3.9 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education, lower than the six-percent recommendation of the United Nations.    

“Our Constitution requires that we prioritize education. Nasusunod naman natin na the biggest agency that receives funding is education. [But] if you compare our spending with other countries, medyo talo tayo. Mas mataas ang spending sa atin ng Laos at Vietnam,” Cayetano noted.

Furthermore, she clarified the status of UP’s budget, which the committee has deferred. 
“On UP, humingi kasi ako ng development sa status ng projects, because a big portion of the higher education budget goes to UP. And I have been a big supporter [of UP’s budget] for many years,” the senator asserted.

“I just want them to properly explain to me what these programs are, the projects, the timelines, the status, so that tuloy-tuloy naman tayong makatulong sa UP at responsible naman tayo sa paglagay ng pondo,” she added. 

During the hearing, Cayetano also vowed to provide additional government support in accelerating infrastructure development for SUCs. She filed Senate Bill No. 64 or the “Build, Build, Build” for Higher Education bill, which lays down a five-year capital outlay plan for state-run higher education institutions.#

Light moment at the finance committee hearing as senators applaud a manifestation of Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa.
Senate finance committee vice chair Pia Cayetano has vowed to review major cuts in the higher education sector’s proposed funding, which CHED officials pegged at P11 billion.

Pia: We need to put in more funding for higher education

Transcript of interview with Senator Pia S. Cayetano, Senate Finance Committee Vice Chairperson. Topic: Budget hearing for the Commission on Higher Education and (CHED) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs)  

Q: Ma’am, please give us an overview of the hearing and your thoughts tungkol sa budget ng SUCs, ano ang next step ng committee?

Senator Pia S. Cayetano (SPSC): Of course, budget, finances ang pinag-uusapan. And the biggest concern of CHED and the SUCs is that they have at least P11 billion that is meant to finance yung education – kumbaga, sa madaling salita, parang scholarships ng mga bata – na na-cut, na nabawasan. 

So, P11 billion yung hahanapan natin ng pondo. These are students who have previously been awarded scholarships and then may incoming din na mga graduates na mag-aavail, and may shortage tayo diyan. 

We need to address this because we consider our human resource the most important resource that we have. So their education is very important. 

And let me put on record that if you compare our spending with other countries, medyo talo tayo. Our Constitution requires that we prioritize education. Totoo naman, nasusunod naman natin na biggest agency that receives funding is education. However, the recommendation of the UN is 6 percent. And we are only spending 3.9, almost 4 percent. Mas mataas ang spending sa atin ng Laos at ng Vietnam. At alam mo talagang itong mga bansang ‘to, naghahabol, diba?

So dapat tayo, huwag lang din tayong kampante. Kailangan mag-invest pa rin tayo sa education sector. 

I also took note and pointed out that the SUC presidents and CHED also have a role to play. They have to be able to submit all the requirements to prove the funding is properly used. 

But on that note, I am happy that I had 5 or 6 other colleagues who all support education. So I am hoping that they will support my initiative to put in more funding for education in general, capital outlays of the SUCs, and the funding of the education itself through scholarships and grants.

Q: Ma’am, yung P11 billion, may idea tayo kung saan pwedeng i-source out?

SPSC: Pwede naman nating… ang proposal ko nga is tingnan yung doon sa mga hindi pa nagamit nila na budget, yung unused portion nila, and they will give me the final amount. Kasi, meron nung 2018 na nalipat nila sa 2019. Pero ‘pag may natira pa doon, dahil may 2019 budget din, baka pwede tayong kumuha doon. 

Q: Hopefully, sapat na po ‘yun…

SPSC: Well, I don’t know kasi P11 billion yung total, and ang ine-expect kong makuha doon sa mga hindi nagamit, mga unobligated nila is parang P8 billion lang. 

Mga P8 billion is what I hope to get, but that’s subject to verification nila na hindi nagamit yung P8 billion na yun.

Q: Ang hindi na-submit ng UP, ano po ang mga kulang pa nila?

SPSC: Marami, humingi kasi ako ng development sa status ng mga projects, kasi syempre malaking part ng budget [ng SUCs] ang UP, malaki talagang portion of the higher education budget goes to UP. And I have been a big supporter for many years.

I just want them to properly explain to me what these programs are, the projects, the timelines, the status, so that tuloy-tuloy naman tayong makatulong sa UP. Yun lang naman ang sa akin, so that responsible naman tayo sa paglalagay ng pondo.#

Senate Finance Committee Vice Chair Pia S. Cayetano leads the subcommittee hearing that discussed the proposed 2020 budget for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).