/ 22 October 2021

EMPLOYEES and faculty members of the University of the Philippines deplored the P1.329-billion budget cut for the UP system which was approved at the House of Representatives last month.

In a position paper, the All-UP Academic Employees Union called for a higher allocation for the UP system, which includes funding for the UP Philippine General Hospital, one of the country’s main Covid centers, and the Philippine Genome Center, one of the few laboratories with capacity for the sequencing of Covid variants.

“After two years of Duterte’s failed pandemic response, UP’s budget should be increased rather than slashed to ensure the safety of its students and employees and boost the University’s capacity to help in the pandemic response,” said AUPAEU Vice President for Faculty Reginald Vallejos.

In particular, the group sought more funding for personnel and indigent patients and P20,000 pandemic support grant for all UP employees.

“The Duterte administration cannot justify the slashing of the budget just because there are no classes in UP campuses. The work-from-home setup and remote learning brings new problems to employees from internet connectivity expenses, higher electricity costs, and the absence of boundaries for work and personal spaces,” Vallejos said.

The AUPAEU called for an additional P294.4 million for internet connectivity allowance for regular and contractual employees.

It also pressed for P1.28 billion budget for UP’s preparations for limited face-to-face classes for courses with laboratory, field work, and other skill-based degrees to ensure quality education amid the pandemic.

The group likewise asked for an additional P1.441 billion for the regularization of 3,343 contractual workers. This includes P365 million for more plantilla items for 600 nurses, 200 nursing assistants, and 200 utility workers at the PGH.

“Even before the pandemic, PGH health workers had been overworked because of the shortage of manpower. The health of our PGH frontliners should not be sacrificed. We thus call for additional plantilla items to avoid overwork and long shifts,” Vallejos said.