GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 July) – South Cotabato officials committed Tuesday an additional grant of P9 million for the completion of the main building and development of the dormitory facilities of the University of the Philippines Manila-School of Health Sciences (UPM-SHS) South Cotabato extension campus in Koronadal City.
South Cotabato Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said her office was able to secure a pledge of P5 million from Sen. Ralph Recto for the construction of a dormitory building at the UPM-SHS four-hectare campus in Barangay Carpenter Hill in Koronadal.
She said the dormitory project, which will mainly benefit the UP unit’s 70 scholars as well as some members of its faculty and staff, will commence before the end of the year.
“This is part of our continuing commitment to provide for the basic needs of the university,” said Fuentes, who graced the formal inauguration of the UP extension campus’ Academic Building A and Oblation Tuesday morning.
The unveiling of the new building and Oblation was also joined by UP system officials led by its Vice President for Planning and Finance Prof. Liza Grace Bersales, South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy and other local government officials.
Aside from the committed funding for the dormitory facility, Fuentes said they are currently following up an earlier pledge made by Senator Franklin Drilon to help provide for the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), capital outlay and personnel services.
The provincial government of South Cotabato earlier released an endowment of P1.5 million for the UP unit’s MOOE and personnel services for this year.
South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said they have also allocated an additional P2.9 million for the construction of toilet and bath facilities and a bridge that will connect the campus to the national highway.
The governor said they will deliver within this month at least 11 nipa huts worth P300,000 earlier donated to the local government by Canadian-backed mining firm Tribal Mining Corporation based in T’boli town in South Cotabato.
He said the nipa huts will serve as temporary housing or dormitory facilities for the UP unit’s scholars, faculty and staff members.
“We will provide an additional P4 million to complete its main building. We already secured a commitment of P1 million from Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri for this purpose,” Pingoy said.
The provincial government of South Cotabato mainly financed the construction of the campus’ P7.5-million Academic Building A and Oblation.
The UPM-SHS is currently using three classrooms for its classes and the other three rooms for its faculty and administrative offices.
The UP extension unit, which initially utilized the training hall and dormitory of the Provincial Scion Grove Research and Demo Farm in Barangay Reyes in Banga town, started its operations last year with 38 scholars.
The UP extension unit moved to its new campus in Koronadal City last May 28 and started its regular classes last June 15.
Dr. Zorayda Leopando, UP Manila’s Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development, lauded the continuing funding, infrastructure and support services given by the provincial government of South Cotabato to the UP unit, which is so far the university’s biggest School of Health Sciences extension campus.
She said its main campus in Palo, Leyte has been sitting on a 4,000-square meter campus for the last 35 years while its first extension unit in Baler, Aurora occupies a one-hectare campus.
Prof. Amabel Ganzo, UPM-SHS South Cotabato campus director, said they enlisted 70 scholars this school year, about half of whom will graduate from their midwifery program by April 2012.
Based on the UP unit’s academic system, the midwifery graduates will be granted with service leaves but will return before the end of 2012 to start their nursing and eventually medicine decree programs.
Ganzo said most of their students come from the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, North Cotabato, Maguindanao but they added scholars this year from Surigao del Sur and Sulu.
Among their current scholars, she said eight come from the T’boli; 14 from B’laan; three from Manobo, seven from Maguindanao; and, one from Tausug tribes.
“Our goal is to produce health workers that will later serve the most depressed areas here in Mindanao. We’re imbuing on them the dedication of UP to the commitment of giving service to the people and loyalty to the cause of betterment,” Ganzo added. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)