The Palawan State University (PSU) Union of Student Advocates for Democracy (USAD) has expressed strong opposition to recent budget cuts, claiming that this action puts the institution at risk.

Based on the National Expenditure Program for 2024, PSU will receive P897,126,000, which is P29,148,000 or over 3.2% less than the university’s 2023 budget of P926,274,000.

According to the student union, this reduction poses a threat to the overall operations of the university.

“Looking at the proposed budget for PSU in 2024, we see a perplexing reduction compared to previous years. In 2023, the budget was a substantial P926,274,000 pesos. This supported our education quality, maintained our infrastructure, and helped students with scholarships. However, the current proposed budget threatens these vital aspectsof PSU,” PSU-USAD said in a statement.

They also questioned the budget cuts among 30 out of 117 State Universities and Colleges (SUC) in the country. As compared to the P107 billion budget in 2023, all 117 SUCs will receive P100.9 billion next year or P6.2-billion less from the previous budget.

The PSU-USAD said that the budget cut reflects the government’s position on tertiary education.

“This bewildering reduction reflects the Marcos Jr. administration’s stance on tertiary education. The proposed 5.8% cut is unjust and bewildering. Some SUCs are forced to find income sources due to the puzzling underfunding in 2023. These figures reflect the dedication of our students, faculty, and staff. They threaten our academic programs, hinder educational access, and jeopardize our institution,” they said.

The union also took a swipe against the controversial confidential and intelligence funds of some government offices and called on the government to funnel these allocations to the education budget.

“We, the Union, strongly condemn this misallocation of funds, particularly the misplaced confidential and intelligence funds. These funds, amounting to P10.1 billion in the proposed 2024 budget, could be better utilized to bridge the budget gap facing SUCs. Confidential and intelligence funds, shrouded in secrecy and lacking public scrutiny, may be used for purposes that do not align with the welfare and development of our educational institutions,” they said.

“The Union won’t stand by as our education’s future faces uncertainty. We call on our government representatives to reallocate these funds for education’s betterment. Let us prioritize our students’ well-being and our nation’s progress over clandestine and unaccountable funds. USAD calls for a more transparent and people-centered governance that addresses the needs of our country over self-interests,” they added.