Thursday, March 05, 2009


Photos by Jonna Baldres

News Release
04 March 2009

Reference: Yancy Gandionco, Vice-President, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey,


NEW YORK -- On Thursday, March 5, members of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey join students from different campuses of City University of New York (CUNY) as they walk out from their classes to show protest against the state's education budget cuts.

Governor David Paterson claimed in his State of the State address the importance of investing in education. However, along with the Governor's plan on cutting budget for basic services (including healthcare resulting to shutdown of hospitals and job layoffs in the state of New York), education also seems to rank at an all-time low among his priorities.

In December of 2008, Paterson announced a reduction of $698 million in education budget for 2009-2010, 3.3 % from the previous fiscal year. In addition, he recommended a 14% increase in tuition fees in both State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY), to be raised up to $620 and $600 respectively.

With the current economic turmoil, more students could no longer afford to go to private schools, thus, making them turn to the state's public institutions for higher education learning. This causes the rise in the rate of enrollment in SUNY and CUNY, with several campuses across the state becoming the stronghold of students whose parents have low-income, or of students who work part-time to pay for their education.

"But with the state's education budget cuts and the proposed increase in tuition fees on the way, these would only allow the state to put the burden on students who do not have anything more to shell out. The state is railroading the path to commercialization of state and city colleges and universities in New York -- the same institutions which are supposedly giving quality education to New Yorkers at affordable prices, or better yet, free of charge," says Yves Nibungco, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey deputy secretary general.

As the class division becomes more apparent, it is also interesting to note the racial composition of students who turn to SUNY and CUNY for advanced learning. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute Report, people of color have reached 20% of the total population in SUNY and 69% in CUNY as of 2008 -- no doubt including Filipinos, being the third largest immigrant community in the US.

The progressive Filipino youth group also points out that an average of 3,000 Filipinos leave the Philippines each day, mostly having the same reason for migrating: prices of commodities and services soar high, but salaries and wages remain horribly low back home. Currently, about four million Filipinos are in US hoping to acquire better lives for their families.

"Our parents brought us here to the US to study. But what we are seeing now is exactly the same thing that's been happening in the Philippines year after year. We cannot afford the tuition fee anymore that's why we had to stop," states John Miranda, a member of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey.

In 2007, due to budget cuts, the University of the Philippines, a state university and supposedly the 'national university' of the Philippines, increased the tuition fee of incoming freshmen by 300%. Being a model for learning institutions, this move by UP gave more reason for other schools, colleges and universities in the Philippines, both private and public, to charge students more for tuition and other miscellaneous fees, making education less accessible to the people.

Just recently, hundreds of students in the Philippines from various universities held a protest action in front of the office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) in Quezon City demanding the immediate implementation of the moratorium on tuition fee increases. (Link to video: )

"Without a doubt, we will do the same here in the big apple. We can't just watch and sit while states -- both under the Arroyo and the Paterson administrations -- deprive the youth of the basic right to learn. We shall not let this pass; that while the state extracts money from the taxpayers of New York City to bail out the 'capitalists', more funds are allocated by the federal government for 6,000 US troops to be sent to the Philippines in April, only to advance the interests of the fascist Arroyo regime and its patrons who benefit from the war machines -- economically and politically, " Nibungco adds.

CUNY rally starts at 3pm in the Borough of Manhattan Community College, to be followed by the Union rally at the City Hall at 4pm. ###


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