Regional Updates (09/21/20)

P1B needed for medicine program in 3 state universities

THE COMMISSION on Higher Education (CHEd) said at least P1 billion is needed to fund three state universities, one in the Visayas and two in Mindanao, that will potentially offer a medicine program, its chairman said on Monday. CHEd reported there are 10 state universities and colleges (SUCs) across the country that have potential to offer medicine, of which three have pending applications. “We need a minimum of P1 billion to start the program of the three SUCs that have pending applications with the Commission,” Chairperson J. Prospero E. De Vera III told senators on Monday. The three SUCs with their respective budget requirement are: Cebu Normal University, P368 million; Western Mindanao State University, P145 million; and the University of Southeastern Philippines, P531 million. Mr. De Vera added there may also be a need to increase bed capacity of state hospitals or partner with private hospitals to cater to the SUCs’ medicine students. “Our challenge is the base hospitals because current government hospitals available are already shared by other private universities,” he said. Further, CHEd also projected that some P4.6 billion is needed for the proposed “Doktor para sa Bayan” law, which is pending approval of the bicameral conference committee. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Solon partners with private firm for free e-learning hubs

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker has partnered with a direct selling company to set up free e-learning centers in several areas, for the use of teachers, students, and parents who have inadequate resources to cope with the demands of the new blended learning system. Frontrow E-skwela, a project of Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Roonie L. Ong, provides free use of computers, internet service, printer for educational modules, and other academic resources. “The hub will provide free use of computers, internet access and printing of modules, and other paper works needed by students to meet the blended learning system that will be implemented for the coming school year,” Mr. Ong said in a statement on Monday. The project was piloted in Baguio City and later implemented in Cebu, Camotes Islands, and Metro Manila. The E-skwela Hub is part of the corporate social responsibility program of direct seller Frontrow, in cooperation with local governments. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Closure of EDSA U-turns permanent — MMDA

THE CLOSURE of 13 U-turn slots along EDSA, undertaken to make way for bus stops, will be permanent, the Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced on Monday. MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo S. Garcia Jr., in a briefing, said this policy was already discussed by the Department of Transportation, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and the Department of Public Works and Highways. Mr. Garcia said putting these dedicated bus lanes have shown improvement in terms of travel time for commuters and allows bus operators to maximize passenger capacity. — Gillian M. Cortez

DoH also raises alarm over Manila Bay crowd

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) raised concerns about the gathering of people in Manila Bay when the beach was opened to the public over the weekend. “Ito po ay isang nakakabahalang sitwasyon (This is a worrying situation),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said in an online briefing Monday, adding that minimum health standards should always be enforced given the continued threat of the coronavirus disease (DOVID-19). The government opened to the public on Sunday part of the bay that is undergoing rehabilitation, which includes the controversial placement of dolomite “white sand.” The area’s local police chief was relieved from his post on Sunday afternoon for failing to enforce health protocols. Ms. Vergeire said the inter-agency task force on coronavirus response might discuss the incident during Tuesday’s meeting. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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