LOCAL officials have given the go-signal for the construction of a UST campus in General Santos City, a University official said. The plan to build UST GenSan is supported by the local government including Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a former Sarangani representative, said Fr. Dexter Austria, O.P., director of the Facilities Management Office (FMO).
“We had a meeting with the mayor, with Senator Pacquiao [and] actually [with] all of the city councilors. Everyone is actually unanimous in their vote for the construction of UST-GenSan,” Austria told the Varsitarian.
UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. said documents for the new campus was now being processed.
“We are still finalizing the [documents] for the site development of UST campus (in GenSan City),” he said in a text message.
Dagohoy said GenSan was chosen to support the Mindanao region in terms of education.
“[The University] has chosen [GenSan] to contribute to the growth of the region by offering the Thomasian brand of education,” he said.
UST GenSan will be an 80-hectare campus, four times the size of UST Manila, located in Barangay Ligaya and Katangawan.
FMO Assistant Director Albert Surla said UST GenSan’s location would be strategic as the one-hour ride from Indonesia to GenSan allowed many Indonesians to visit the city.
“[M]araming visitors from Indonesia mula [sa GenSan]… so baka [mag-aral] sila doon knowing [UST’s] quality of education. So ‘yun din yung isang nakikitang magandang effect [kapag nagkaroon] ng UST sa GenSan,” he said.
Austria said they plan to start with the first phase of the development plan next year, covering 14-20 hectares.
“[W]hat we are after now is yung permits na for the site development plan. You need a permit to begin the site development, andoon na tayo. [And] it would take… more than a year to finish the site development plan,” Austria said.
Dagohoy said the construction of UST GenSan would fulfill the Dominican Province’s mandate to the University.
Austria said the campus would also be an avenue to spread the University’s mission in Mindanao.
“The impact of [UST] would be so much for the people of [GenSan] and for the whole of Mindanao not only in terms of educational benefits… but I think… it could also be a catalyst for Catholic teachings to be spread in GenSan,” he said.
The University bought the land for P96 million in 1997, but city officials opposed the project.
The city council under GenSan City Mayor Ronnel Rivera approved the rezoning of the property to institutional from agricultural on Oct. 8, 2013 through City Ordinance 15 series of 2013.
The Department of Agrarian Reform first approved the conversion of the land in 2003 and issued another order in 2008, extending the development period of the site until 2013.
But order expired last July 22, 2013, putting the construction of the UST Gen San campus on hold.