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Senate passes bill requiring state colleges to develop idle lands

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The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill requiring all state universities and colleges (SUCs) to submit a land management plan to maximize the use of their properties.

Senator Chiz Escudero, sponsor of House Bill 8370, said that the passage of the bill into law would ensure an effective land use development and infrastructure plan that would utilize idle assets within the school.

Under HB 8370, all SUCs should 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 infrastructure plan will be updated periodically as the need arises,” said Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education.

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 said.

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

All land use or infrastructure projects of the SUCs would be required to follow the LUDIP, which should 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 also provides that no infrastructure project of the SUCs must be approved unless their LUDIP has been implemented and submitted to the CHEd.

HB 8730 states that SUCs may seek the assistance and cooperation from other agencies such as the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP-SURP), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), among others.

The CHEd, UP-SURP and the HLURB should design capacity building programs for the SUCs to enable them to develop and prepare suitable land use plans.

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