Senate panel tackles bill on healthcare benefits for SUC personnel

THE Senate committee that tackles tertiary, and technical-vocational education issues has begun its public hearings on proposals to expand benefits for personnel in state universities and colleges.

During the hearing early this week, stakeholders welcomed proposals to provide healthcare benefits for teaching and non-teaching SUC personnel, and in-campus housing for faculty members, two measures authored and pursued by Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education.

Villanueva expressed optimism the measures would sail through the legislative mill to improve the welfare of people he described as the “enabler of society’s progress.”

“The people who make up our SUCs enable our society to progress by molding our youth into competent professionals who will join the workforce and help move our country forward,” said Villanueva  in a statement in celebration of World Teachers’ Day  yesterday.

“SUC personnel transform our youth into skillful individuals who we envision to uphold the long-standing reputation of our countrymen as resourceful and resilient workers regardless of the industry they belong,” he added.

Senate Bill No. 346 empowers SUC governing bodies such as the Board of Regents or Trustees to seek out a reasonable and comprehensive health care coverage from health maintenance organizations (HMOs) for its faculty members and regular non-teaching personnel.

A free HMO coverage will not only increase the job satisfaction among SUC personnel, it will also ensure that a healthy pool of faculty and nonteaching personnel will be able to continuously and rigorously teach and shape the minds of younger generations, Villanueva explained.

On the other hand, Villanueva also proposed that in-campus housing be provided to tenured faculty members under Senate Bill No. 716. The measure authorizes SUCs boards to set criteria and standards for the program, in addition to setting reasonable, affordable rental charges.

“Qualified faculty members shall have the right to stay in in-campus housing units during their lifetime to ensure that they will be able to live comfortably in the home they grew accustomed to.

“This measure also seeks to protect them from inconvenience of looking for alternative housing and moving somewhere else during their old age,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva’s committee hearing on Oct. 1 also tackled proposed measures to create a scholarship program for teacher education, set incentives for teaching in rural public schools, and a comprehensive training program in special education (SPED) to equip teachers with proper pedagogical techniques and strategies, suitable for educational mainstreaming.