Senate plans transfer to UP campus at DilimanBy Cathy C. Yamsuan, Gil C. Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A Senate on the campus of the University of the Philippines (UP) at Diliman, Quezon City, will bring it closer to the House of Representatives, an arrangement that can probably help speed up the passage of legislation.
But a Senate in Diliman will make it a neighbor of the headquarters of the politically influential Iglesia ni Cristo and just a step away from the state university, which is full of activists.
The UP is considering two sites as possible locations for the Senate in case it moves to Quezon City from Pasay City where it rents office space in the building of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
One is a 3-hectare area referred to as “Capitol site” at the side and back of the Ayala Techno-Hub, a commercial complex on Commonwealth Avenue.
Another is called the “AIT site,” a triangular lot at the corner of Iglesia Road and Commonwealth Avenue where the Asian Institute of Tourism (AIT) of the UP System and the Philippine Social Science Center (PSSC) are located.
A Senate source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the transfer, said issues could arise in case the Senate chose either site.
Informal settlers numbering more than 1,000 families are currently occupying Capitol site. This means a relocation area must first be identified and developed before the informal settlers are moved out of the property.
A court case could also arise if informal settlers are persuaded to question their transfer from Capitol site.
In case the AIT site is chosen, the institute would need to transfer to another location and most likely join the other colleges within the sprawling campus on the other side of Commonwealth Avenue.
UP officials believe the move would be favorable to AIT students because many of them complain that travel time from the institute to the other colleges on the other side of the avenue and vice versa causes them to be late for class.
Also, a move to the AIT site would mean the lease contract between the UP and the PSSC would have to be revised.
The Senate source said a number of nongovernment organizations hold office inside the PSSC.
The source added that all this information was discussed during a presentation given by UP officials on June 28 before the ad hoc committee in charge of the Senate’s transfer to a permanent site.
In attendance were Senators Franklin Drilon, Pia Cayetano and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
UP representatives included Chancellor Caesar Saloma and Dr. Gerard Rey Lico of the UP Office of the Campus Architect. Senate department heads were also in present.
Belmonte for transfer
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is looking forward to working “closer” with the Senate should it move to the UP campus at Diliman.
“I heard they are talking with UP management. You know, the UP has 499 hectares and it can accommodate them, especially on the Commonwealth Avenue side of the campus and not Katipunan,” said Belmonte in an interview with reporters.
“I really believe they should come over here in Quezon City. They are too far. It’s such a long trip,” said Belmonte. The Batasan complex, where the House holds office, is roughly 30 kilometers away from the Senate in Pasay City.
Belmonte said a staff from the Senate committee tasked with looking for alternative sites for the Senate had visited Batasan.
“They concluded that they need another one. I don’t think this complex will be enough,” the Speaker said.
Some UP student leaders have expressed apprehension over sharing the campus with senators who slashed the budget for state colleges and universities.
They pointed out that the Senate would not be able to reach its objective of having its own building as the UP charter allowed only for the lease and not the sale of its property.