Pres. Azanza unfolds his Vision of HOPE and plans for the Catanduanes State University (CatSU) under his leadership

Category : Administration | Sub Category : Governance Posted on 2021-07-14 19:54:47

Pres. Azanza unfolds his Vision of HOPE and plans for the Catanduanes State University (CatSU) under his leadership

A Vision of HOPE for the Catanduanes State University and the Happy Island

Honest service
Outstanding and Globally-competitive educational standards 
People-centered and planet-friendly programs 
Equal opportunity and fair treatment to all

By: Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza
SUC President III

My election as the 7th President of the Catanduanes State University coincides the 50th Founding Anniversary of our beloved Alma Mater.

Upon my shoulders, God has bestowed the sacred responsibility of leading the largest higher learning institution in the island province of Catanduanes towards its first century of glorious history.

Today, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I am faced with the daunting challenge of putting the house of the University into order to make sure that we are all able to adapt to the new normal, embracing online technology and innovating blended and modular learning given the present limitations in the province where internet connectivity and intermittent power supply are but part of our day to day social and economic realities.

 I have made initial steps in reforming the way we do things in the University.  Already, we have put in place the hallmarks of my Administration: Transparency, Integrity and Accountability.  Meritocracy, Equal Opportunity, Inclusivity and Fairness are my guiding principles for University governance. We emphasize an Open Door Policy where everyone can reach out to everybody, including the Office of the President. We have a 24-hour rule to make sure that doing business with the University is easy, thus we will act on your requests within a day. You must at least receive a feedback from us within 24 hours. Efficiency and Effectiveness are part of the University’s Key Performance Indicators.

On my first few days, I made some shocking discoveries:  1) 100 plantilla faculty items unfilled for so many years; 2) the university has 250 Job Order staff versus only 232 faculty warm bodies, and the JO’s have the same family or middle names, most of them recommended by only 4 powerful officers in the university, and sadly there were a number of cum laude and magna cum laude graduates who were mixing coffee or doing clerical or messengerial work instead of holding technical or teaching items; 3) I also learned that all our production ventures are losing propositions, the rice, poultry, eggs;  but worse, 4) most of the infrastructure projects have negative slippage beyond the allowable threshold of 15%, one even at an appalling rate of 96% negative slippage, and this is happening alongside a series of contract variations that eat up whatever bid savings from authorized budget, yes negative slippage and contract variations have become the norm rather than exception. 

I have sent out termination of contracts to this erring suppliers who have made a mockery of public bidding process. Blacklisting is now in process. My experience as former BAC Chairman at UP Diliman tells me that this thing is a consequence when incompetent and corrupt suppliers and contractors are able to manipulate the bidding process and simply decide and internally arrange by themselves who will get the next contract. This fishy modus operandi, of course, will not thrive without colluding with corrupt officers from the inside. I am determined to cleanse the University from these practices. I am determined to cleanse the University of all these rotten and corrupt practices. I have announced that I do not accept SOP’s and I think that has been made clear to all suppliers and contractors, as well as every staff and officer of the University. 

But beyond housekeeping, the CatSU president under its charter that makes reference to Batas Pambansa 68 or the Corporation Code, is expected to wear two hats. One is that of an Academic Administrator of the University, and the other being the Chief Executive Officer of the corporate organization of the University managing its vast resources of about 335 hectares in Virac, Palnab, Cabugao,  and Panganiban. 

By promoting the internationalization programs and having strong foreign and national linkages, we can attract more academic partnerships and exchange scholarships. As an academic leader, we need to make sure that we are able to deliver high quality learning experience to our students. We need to benchmarks our curricular offerings and make sure we provide globally competitive knowledge and skills to our students. We also must promote the right values and character to our youth and we can do this hand-in-hand with active partners who provide spiritual growth and campus ministries.

I learned that 200 students of CatSU failed to enroll because of lack of access to online classes. I then called upon the private sector to donate to this needy students, and I am elated and so happy that the response of the generous public, perhaps because they have learned that we do not accept SOP’s and resort to under the table transactions, has been very heartwarming. In the next few weeks, we shall be distributing smartphones or tablets to our needy students in time for the start of the next semester. 

Our management audit and curricular reforms are already underway to make CatSU part of the Quacquarelli Symonds World Ranking of Universities; become SUC Level IV; and CHED Center of Excellence. We envision offering Maritime Courses, Law, Medicine, Medical Technology, Textile Engineering, Radiology, Architecture, and Forestry as new courses. 

Now, as to my other hat exercising corporate executive powers, here is some good news that will surely create an impact in the lives of our kababayans. I intend to work for the declaration of the entire campuses of the University as part of an Economic and Processing Zone, which will operate under PEZA, CREATE and PPP Laws. The economic and processing zone will be designed as a learning laboratory and opportunity to do research of the CatSU faculty and students. In this sense, as we put up economic and processing zone, the locators will be attracted due to the tax incentives that will be offered to them coupled with the vast intellectual and human resources of the University which shall become available to them at competitive costs. 

We will make sure that our faculty, staff and students are given reasonable and just compensation and will be recognized as co-authors and even shares in the royalties. Our economic and processing zones will have safety nets for our faculty, staff and students. We will give them priority in terms of hiring and protect them by requiring locators to adopt a competitive pay structure. The local inhabitants of the area must also be given livelihood and job opportunities.

The Research Agenda of the University shall be intended to focus on issues that affect the community, and to close the gap between Industry and the Academe. I actually have a model for this development which is the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park in Taiwan where the National Chiao Tung University helped developed Acer (laptops) and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC) in what is now known as the “Silicon Valley of Taiwan.” These industries have produced billions of dollars and have provided income not just for the University but for the entire economy of Taiwan. 

When we do have our processing zone,  CatSU can play a very important role in the research of viable finished products of for example, abaca  and lasa (Tiger Grass).  By partnering with UPLB, we can address concerns on bunchytops that annihilate our abaca plantation. 

The Philippines is the largest abaca producing country in the world. Abaca or “Manila Hemp”. It is considered as the strongest natural fiber in the world. It has high potential as substitute to glass fibers in multiple automotive parts or as filling materials for bolster and interior trim parts. Mercedes Benz has started using abaca in its automotive production. Catanduanes is the abaca capital of the Philippines, with 12, 789 abaca farmers producing an average of 23,550 metric tons per year supplying about 35% of the country’s abaca production. Abaca is presently well-recognized as primary material for specialty paper products such as currency notes (Japan currency note uses 30% abaca); tea and coffee bags; sausage casing; cigarette filter; medical/food preparation/disposal papers; high-quality writing paper and vacuum bags. It has also shown international potential in fashion, furniture and decorative industries. Average export generated by the Philippines is $97.1 million per year for the past 10 years. $84.9 million of that came from abaca manufacturer such as pulp, cordage, yarns, fabrics and fiber crafts. Imagine if we do that in our export processing zone in CatSU, with tax incentives and at competitive labor costs that will provide employment to our Catandunganons.
Lasa or Tiger Grass is another area of research and production. Lasa is used to produce brooms. But its pulp is actually used in the nutraceutical-beauty industry by companies like L’Oreal. 

Crab is another area of production. There was a time when we were also known as the “crab capital of the Philippines.” We have the Catanduanes Crab Center. This has an international market and our female mud crabs are in demand in Japan, Taiwan, Hongkong and Singapore. Halal production of fish and crab products is another potential area.

Clustering of the campuses under the Comprehensive Campus Modernization and Development Plan. We will concentrate specializations that will boost economies of scale  For example, Panganiban  Campus can became a center for Agricultural, Fisheries and Maritime Studies. While the Virac Campus can focus on liberal arts, medical sciences, nursing, education and engineering as well as the Graduate Studies. The Cabugao property can be a center for research on Mangrove and acquatic studies. Of course the Palnab area is definitely for Fisheries. The smooth transition shall take into consideration shuttle buses and dormitories for students in the said specialization campuses.

The CatSu Comprehensive Development Plan shall be on a 70-30 percentage scheme. We will set aside 70% of the 335 hectares for the future of the next generations. Thus there will be natural reserve parks. The 30% will be developed into Smart and Eco-Friendly Campuses where we will utilize wind and solar technologies to serve as alternative sources of power within the University. There shall be housing facilities for faculty and staff; as well as ample dormitories for students. It will be a wired University where wifi and internet services will be adequately provided. The University classrooms, libraries, laboratory, research and production facilities shall be modernized, along with the rise of  economic and processing zone facilities in a carefully planned environment. 

There will be a teaching hospital and along with it, medical tourism and a nursing home for retirees.  We shall put in place nature parks, and modern sports facilities for our students and campus residents. And we will not forget to highlight the Catanduangan Culture and the Arts, as they are food for our soul. The Abaca Festival  and other cultural activities to be spearheaded by the Hablon Dawani and the Catandungan Cultural Center of the University shall play a very important role in promoting our island’s cultural heritage.

The Alumni shall also play a very important part in this plan which will incorporate disaster readiness and emergency response programs.
A CatSU Foundation shall be established to attend to the management of resources that will be generated. The University shall provide for its Endowment Fund with a target fund that will allow it to survive 36 months paying for salaries and operations without external support in case of emergency.

We shall also form a Provident Fund to support the needs of faculty and staff and allow them to have extra HMO, loan facility and generous retirement program. We want our faculty and staff to organize themselves into a Cooperative to enjoy the benefits under the Cooperative Development Authority.

We will also form the SEGURADO KA SA CATSU or the Samahan ng mga Gurong Retiradong at Kawani sa CatSU so that we will be able to promote their welfare and continuously tap the services of our retirees. We have a lot of things going for our beloved University and its stakeholders. 
I have rolled up my sleeves and am out there in the field daily, doing my job on the ground along with our talented, honest and hardworking members of the CatSU community.  We have formed a formidable team. I, alone cannot do this. If we will be united, if we work with the national and local government and the private sector as partners, we can achieve a lot for our province. 

We offer the Catanduanes State University to serve as the conscience of our province, as well as the knowledge center of our economy. We want to serve as a role model of efficient service and public governance in the island, as we endeavor to give HOPE to our happy island: Honest service. Outstanding and globally-competitive educational standards. People-centered and planet-friendly programs where social safety nets are in place and harmony with the ecosystem is considered sacred. And above all, we shall provide for Equal opportunity and fair treatment to all, where meritocracy, qualifications and potentials are given premium, instead of patronage and kinship relations. Thus, CatSu under my Administration shall serve as the HOPE of our Happy Island.

To the University Stakeholders. To the People of Catanduanes. Sa satuyang mga kinamomootan na kababayan, mga kapwa taga-isla. My maxim as a servant leader has always been the same. Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you. Dios mabalos tabi sa indo gabos!

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