By Merlina Hernando-Malipot and Hannah Torregoza
Education secretary Leonor Briones vowed last Monday to hold the Bicol Central Academy (BCA) in Libmanan, Camarines Sur and his officials responsible for the controversial burning of school bags from his students, of which a video clip went viral social media websites last week.
A number of senators who had watched the video clip of the incident also responded with concern and indignation at the "cruel" treatment by the school administrator of high school students who had witnessed the burning of their personal belongings.
In a telephone interview with the Manila Bulletin, Briones stressed that DepEd closely followed developments in the investigation into the BCA incident by DepEd Region 5 director Gilbert Sadsad.
She said that the DepEd "expected a more detailed report on the incident" after instructing Sadsad to personally visit the school and investigate Alexander James Jaucian, the school's administrator and the owner who reportedly burned the school bags.
Sadsad, who collected that the students' bags were burned as a disciplinary action for violating BCA's no bag policy at a school event, said that Jaucian has already agreed to a dialogue at the students and their parents in the DepEd Bicol Regional Office later this week.
Nevertheless, Briones is not about to end the operation of the school at random.
"That (cancellation license) will be a long story, a long process," Briones said in a telephone interview with the Manila Bulletin. She noted that "there is a separate, independent group that inspects and monitors private schools" on behalf of DepEd, the Private Support Committee (PEAC).
Senators hit BCA
Seng Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara said in the Senate that the actions of Jaucian were "totally unacceptable and ignored any reasonable logic".
"This is not the way to discipline our students," said Angara, whose deceased father, Edgardo Sr., served as University of the Philippines (UP) before being elected senator.
"He (Jaucian) should be held responsible for his seemingly irrational action, deserving of indignation and punishment from authorities, particularly the Ministry of Education," he added.
Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, who is chairman of the Senate Committee for Education, Art and Culture, also took the actions of the school administrator with a dent.
"I urge the DepEd to immediately examine the actions of the Bicol Central Academy and its head, Mr. Alexander Jaucian, in the so-called burning of students' bags," said Escudero on his Twitter account. "If it is true, I consider it a cruel and unusual punishment and absolutely wrong !!!" he emphasized.