Wednesday, August 17, 2005

C. de Oro academics rant over education budget cut, join calls for Arroyo's ouster

By Maricel Casino-Rivera
The Mindanao Goldstar Daily
Volume 16 No. 41

A GROUP of academics from major colleges and universities in Cagayan de Oro yesterday joined militant youth groups in calling for the ouster of the embattled President Arroyo as the Lower House resumed deliberations on the impeachment complaints.

This came even as a handful of students gathered in front of the Jesuit-run Xavier University, braving the heat at noon-time, to pursue their call for Arroyo's resignation.

Academics who call themselves the Educators' Caucus, an informal gathering of teachers and other education workers coming from private and public education institutions in the city, said they were dismayed over the sorry state of the country's education system. The group includes academics from Xavier, Mindanao Polytechnic State College (MPSC), Liceo de Cagayan University, Capitol University and Cagayan de Oro College.

The group said the government budget for education significantly decreased from 17 percent in 2002 to 14.9 percent this year.

In a statement, the organized academics said the government also reduced the education department's budget for maintenance and other operating expenses and services.

In 2004, they said there was an overwhelming lack of public teachers.

"The lack of budget for education led to massive contractualization of teachers, low quality of education due to increased number of working hours and number of class size and the decreased income for the teachers," their statement said.

Kim Gargar, MPSC Physics department chairperson, said the Educators' Caucus is a venue for discussions on issues that concern the education sector and promotes and forms the broadest unity among their ranks for their legitimate democratic rights and interests.

"It believes that as significant members of the academic community the educators are at the vantage point to observe, analyze and help solve the problems besetting the country," said Gargar.

Gargar said the group is also fully supporting the impeachment process. Its members have shown concern over reports that Malacanang was bent on using the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses to influence the outcome of the impeachment hearings.

The Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) is finalizing details on the auction of the jewelry owned by former First Lady Imelda Marcos by the end of this year with an estimated value of US$10 million.

Gargar said it was time for Arroyo to go because the evidence--the "Hello Garci tapes"--clearly show that "she cheated and betrayed public trust to usurp power".

"The tapes [are] the last straw. From the first day she assumed office, her credibility has been questioned. The President has lost moral ascendancy, legal mandate and credibility to stay in power," said Gargar.


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