UP junks expansion plan in South Cot

Fuentes said UP Manila officials informed the local government recently they have to shelve the planned opening of an extension campus as none of its personnel has reportedly signified willingness to be assigned in the area.

“They were afraid of the recent bombings, encounters between rebels and government troops and the attacks by communist rebels on one of our police stations,” she said in her weekly radio program aired over the Radio Mindanao Network here this morning.

Fuentes said UP Manila’s decision was very unfortunate for the province but added they could not blame them for worrying about their safety and security in the area.

She said they are taking it as a wake-up call for local governments, law enforcement agencies and security forces in the area to intensify their efforts even more to ensure that the area remains secure and safe for both local residents and visitors.

“We’ve asked the help of Medco (Mindanao Economic and Development Council) to lobby with UP Manila to reconsider their decision. But I think it will not be easy to convince them if none of their professors would want to come here,” the governor said.

UP Manila earlier agreed to open an extension campus or School of Health Sciences in South Cotabato based on an endorsement from Medco.

The proposed UP School of Health Sciences in the province was supposed to be the first extension campus of UP Manila and the UP system’s second in Mindanao.

Undersecretary Virgilio L. Leyretana Sr., Medco chair, earlier said the target date for the school opening is tentatively set in July.

He described the UP medical school's proposed operation as the “foundation for an expanded and affordable health care system for the countryside.”

The school was initially planned to offer courses in accordance with the ladderized curricula of UP focusing on basic midwifery, nursing and medicine.

Fuentes said the provincial government has earlier come up with the required funding for the opening of the UP extension campus that was initially pegged at close to P50 million.

She said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Edgardo Angara had promised to help provide the funding for the province’s counterpart in the project, which includes the site procurement and the construction of two classrooms, two administration offices and a library. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)