THE COUNTRY’S biggest labor coalition urged lawmakers on Tuesday to restore the P6.1 billion slashed from the initial P107.03 billion allotted for state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the proposed 2024 national budget.

“Education is a fundamental right, and cutting the budget for education constitutes a diminution of our recognition of this right,” the group Nagkaisa said in a statement.

Earlier, the heads of 36 SUCs urged Congress to restore the amount that was taken away by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) when it allotted only P100.8 billion for SUCs next year.

“If our state universities and colleges are expected to do their duties, they must be funded accordingly,” according to a joint statement signed by officials from the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), among other schools.

Last week, Party-List Rep. Raoul Danniel A. Manuel and other Makabayan bloc members in the House of Representatives filed a resolution seeking to restore the P6.1 billion, citing the need to fund schools to address the education crisis.

As mandated by the Constitution, the education sector will receive the highest budget allocation of P924.7 billion for next year.

The Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges earlier sought an additional P4.2 billion to fund the government’s free tuition program for tertiary education students to accommodate the increase in enrollees this school year. — John Victor D. Ordoñez