MANILA, January 23, 2004
(STAR) Caloocan City residents, who jampacked the spanking new session hall at the Legislative Building beside City Hall yesterday, stood up cheering as the City Council in session unanimously approved the establishment of "a university the people of the city can really call their own".

Ordinance 1020-2003, principally authored by Councilor Benedicto Gonzales Jr., authorized the city government to convert the existing Caloocan City Polytechnic College (CCPC) along Samson Road now with a population of some 4,000 students into a full-fledged university. The initially city hall-funded tertiary educational institution will henceforth be called the university of Caloocan City (UCC).

"I wish to leave the UCC as a legacy as I end my third term at the city council. This has been a dream of the people and we are blessed that we have realized it during our term," said Gonzales, who is running for representative in the House of Representatives in May 2004 (District 1) under the ticket of City Mayor Reynaldo Malonzo (Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrat Party), himself running for Congress in District 1. Malonzo, who is set to sign the measure, will act as university president and chairman of the board. UCC is envisioned to facilitate access to professional, technological and continuing education of city residents, "particularly the underprivileged and financially disadvantaged".

Gonzales told The STAR the UCC will be opening its doors to enrollees in June 2004 and expects the school population to double by then. He added the UCC will be operating under an independent charter much like state universities. The CCPC, which started as a two-year course college in 1971 and offered four-year courses in 1975, is currently being funded by the city government and has a budget allocation of some P27 million, with its conversion into a university, an additional P23-million will be provided. The official said that according to studies, the UCC will need at least P50-million to operate at full capacity. The university will be offering around 20 courses, both undergraduate and post-graduate, in some seven colleges including liberal arts, education and police science.

Gonzales said the present seven tertiary institutions in the city, including the Caloocan Branch of the University of the East (UE) and the AMA Computer College, both along Samson Road, now carry some 95 percent of all student-residents enrolled. Only five percent can be accommodated by the old CCPC due to its limited facilities.

The colleges will be temporarily assigned in different campuses because of the present space limitations in the city proper, Gonzales said. Alternative sites are being eyed in Camarin and some existing underutilized campuses in the city proper. Jerry Botial

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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