Former Bulacan State University (BulSU) Student Regent Aldrin Umali (BulSUOne) betrayed his constituents by endorsing the hike in tuition laboratory fee (TLF) pushed by University President Cecilia Gascon and some finance committee members of the BulSU Board. Gascon said that the increase was reasonable as there is a deficit in the budget. However, an investigation led by progressive student organizations shed light to the claim that there is a deficit in the budget. It turns out that the “deficit” was just the projected income that will have less revenues for the future academic years.
Umali claimed that the increase was necessary for the University, and that it is a win-win solution for both the students and the administration. This pronouncement by Umali was the result of President Gascon’s promise that no student will pay the hike as she had requested the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to approve the use of the Php 178 million budget of “Free Tuition” to cover the matriculation of all students.
However, the Student Government (SG), led by its President Ninna Arambulo and Vice President Diana Francisco, fought against the said increase. Together with the progressive coalition of STAND-BULSU, petitions and protests against the TLF hike were conducted. Meanwhile, BulSUOne led an isolated and separate petition campaign against the TLF increase. Many students were confused and bewildered by the conflicting stand of BulSUOne on TLF.
While the students were enraged by the fee increase (one was thwarted by the student movement), the BulSU administration capitalized on the mirage of the Free Tuition coverage for all. This prompted students to be pacified by Gascon’s promise.
However, Gascon’s request was denied by CHED, and on the official Facebook page of BulSU, the administration announced that all students who would enroll later than August 8, 2017 will not receive the Free Tuition subsidy. This means that students who will be enrolling after the said date will be forced to pay the 200% hike in TLF.
Umali’s claim and Gascon’s promise were broken.
Now, different student organizations, councils, and even some supportive faculty members are on a big local campaign against the intensifying commercialization of education in BulSU, amidst the promise of free education.
This is a microcosm of the current socio-economic situation in the Philippines. With so many broken promises and conflicting statements made by the President, the people can only trust on their collective action and struggle against the growing fascist, and reactionary state of the ruling class.