University of the Philippines (UP) President Danilo Concepcion faced Thursday morning, November 26 protesters outside the Executive House at UP Diliman to discuss with them issues on labor and housing within the University.
Demonstrators brought to Concepcion’s doorstep their calls to end contractualization and protect the welfare of UP’s workers, and guarantee housing for residents of the Arboretum due to the impending construction of another Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on campus.
They also asked UP’s chief executive to absorb as regular employees all agency hired workers of the state university, as well as to implement merit promotion and quickly release the “sagád award” for school employees who have reached their peak step increments within their salary grades.
Attendees are petitioning the President to grant an award of P50,000 to employees who have reached their maximum step as compensation for years of service without promotion.
“Itigil ang workplace discrimination sa pamantasan,” they said.
Former UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs and now national president of the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU) Prof. Melania Flores shared to Concepcion other concerns of her constituents.
Aside from AUPAEU, members from the Alliance of Contractual Employees in UP, Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy UP Diliman, and the Arboretum community participated in the protest.
Late last month, the UP Board of Regents approved the reclassification of some portions of Arboretum, a protected forest area, for the construction of a new unit of PGH in Diliman, Quezon City.
“Instead of mobilizing UP experts and putting in place programs for much-needed forest protection and rehabilitation as well as the replanting of the denuded areas, the BOR has voted in favor of deforestation,” a joint statement from the University’s Student, Faculty, and Staff Regents read.
“The sustainability and viability of the whole Arboretum as a natural forest has been put in question by this initial reclassification,” they added.
While critics have slammed the decision, University officials had earlier said that the project will benefit the public.
“Ang UP PGH Diliman ay kailangang-kailangan nating itayô kasi po hindi na táyo maaaring mag-expand sa UP Manila campus ng PGH,” Concepcion said in a Senate hearing for UP’s 2021 budget last September.
“Pero, kinakailangan po nating lakihan ‘yung ating ospital upang dumami ang ating mga pasyente at nang sa ganoon ay lumaki rin ang capacity ng ating College of Medicine na paramihin ang kaniyang estudyante para sila ay ma-train at maging doktor,” he also said.
“Mayroon po kaming nakitang area doon sa may Arboretum na wala namang mga maraming punò na puwede nating gawing bagong site ng PGH sa Diliman na atin pong ipinapanukalang itayô,” Concepcion added.
The proposed PGH unit in Diliman, with an indicative cost of more than P19 billion, would be a 700-bed health facility with an expansion of the College of Medicine and a Cancer Research Center.
“Ito po ay magandang preparation na rin for our next health crisis kung magkakaroon ulit ng pandemic,” the UP executive explained.