Tap idle state universities and colleges lands

February 26, 2019

Untapped assets mean missed opportunities.

Up until now, we did not know that state academic institutions are also holders of vast, undeveloped lands.

These lands form part of university and college campuses, annexes, and field extension offices.

Not all of these properties house buildings and classrooms. Some are wide open fields or unoccupied spaces with no productive activities.

State universities and colleges stand to generate extra revenues if these unused real state are developed and leased for commercial purposes. SUCs can then use the money to subsidize their its operations and sustain its academic programs.

All state SUCs would soon be required to submit a land management plan following the approval of a bill on second reading seeking to maximize the use of land resources within the universities or colleges.

Senator Chiz Escudero, sponsor of House Bill 8370, otherwise known as the act requiring state universities and colleges (SUCs) to prepare and implement a land use development and infrastructure plan, said the bill also seeks to provide a safe and decent living space for students, who usually come from remote parts of neighboring municipalities and cities where the SUCs are located.

"It has been observed that some students, especially those coming from poor families, usually drop out of school saying they can no longer afford to pay the costly board and lodging near the universities or colleges," Escudero said.

"It is necessary for the school to ensure the safety and well-being of the students by providing them dormitories inside the state university and college," he added.

Escudero said faculty members and staff will likewise be provided with housing projects to enable them to work effectively and efficiently.

Under the proposed legislation, all SUCs shall submit a Land Use Development and Infrastructure Plan (LUDIP) to the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) within two years after approval of the bill. The plan will be updated periodically as the need arises.

All land use or infrastructure projects of the SUCs shall be required to follow the LUDIP, which shall be linked with the land use plan and practice of the local government units (LGUs) to ensure that they complement with the LGUs activities and projects.

The bill seeks to provides that no infrastructure project of the SUCs shall be approved unless their LUDIP has been implemented and submitted to the CHED.