By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Saturday said that an array of possible sanctions await the school officials in a private school in Bicol after photos and video of burned bags of its students who did not comply with the “no-bag” policy make rounds online.
In a phone interview, Briones told the Manila Bulletin that the Regional Director (RD) of Region 5, Gilbert Sadsad, has already been instructed to “send us a partial report because they are still gathering all the circumstances.” She noted that by Monday, the regional director will go to the school “to make his own investigation.”
“In the meantime, I am waiting for the report,” Briones said. Based on her oral conversation with Sadsad, she noted that DepEd is currently looking at the possibilities that triggered the incident. “We have regulation at present, we have a policy against psychological as well physical punishment of children because they will be traumatized,” she explained.
Briones noted that currently, DepEd is also looking into the possible “steps that we can take to impose sanctions if it will be established that the principal was the one who triggered the incident.” She noted that “there are several possibilities and sanctions that can be imposed.”
One is “cancel the license or the permit to operate of the school” and the other possible sanction is to review the financial assistance given to the school if in is under the Educational Service Contracting scheme (ESC) which is a program provided for by Republic Act 8545 (amending R.A. 6728), or the “Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education” (GASTPE).
Briones said DepEd provides financial assistance to private school owners so “we can review that because we have contract that there is expected modes of behavior and output from the school.”
Justly and fairly
While waiting for the official reports of the incident, Briones assured the students and their parents that DepEd will thoroughly look into this.
“We want to assure parents that we will act justly and we will act fairly so we are getting the information,” Briones said. “For the students, we don’t know yet how many are affected,” she added.
Meanwhile, Briones stressed that the “overall framework of all of this is the policy against physical or psychological punishment of learners and children.” She noted that the DepEd has a “clear policy on this” – particularly on “bullying by children themselves or by teachers or school officials.”
“We are looking at right now, what sanctions that can be imposed on the school in case we see that there’s truth [to the incident] and evidence that what they did was contrary to our policy in education and the treatment of our learners,” Briones ended.
Earlier, DepEd Undersecretary and spokesperson Annalyn Sevilla said the DepEd has already been informed of the incident. “We got the info this morning,” she said. Meanwhile, she noted that the regional director of Bicol Region, as well as other regional counterparts, are “on fact-finding work now.”
Photos of burned bags with personal items of the students as well as a video of a man who is apparently lecturing the student-“violators” and asking them if they are “stupid” are currently viral after concerned alumnus, who identified himself as Earl Vincent Cañaveral, on his Twitter account (@Surrearlism) posted the said photos and video.
The students were later identified belonging to Bicol Central Academy in Libmanan, Camarines Sur and the man was supposedly the school’s head, Alexander James Jaucian. In a series of tweets, Cañaveral, briefly described the incident and what triggered it.
Cañaveral said it took place during the “Tasumaki Day” – where the school requires students to wear formal attire, thus, they were told bring just small bags. However, there were students who brought in big bags because they need to bring changes in clothing. This allegedly triggered the school administrator to burn the bags as a “punishment” for the students.