PROTEST RALLY. Parents of Salvador National High School in Salvador, Lanao del Norte stage a protest rally against the principal whom they accused of spending the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) money and for not giving them a transparent financial report. Photo by Divina M. Suson
By Divina M. Suson
SALVADOR, Lanao del Norte--Parents, including officers of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA), of Salvador National High School (SNHS), staged protest rally infront of the school gate since Monday (March 4), against the school principal, who they identified as Marilou Apat.
The parents staged the protest rally saying Apat allegedly collected various contributions from them.
Aside from collecting P100 as PTA fee, the parents alleged that the school principal disbursed funds without an approved resolution from the PTA board.
Bringing with them placards, written with “Apat Alis!”, “We Want Change”, “We Love SNHS, We Don’t Want Apat Anymore”, “Stop PTA Fee Collection”, “Principal Corrupts PTA Fee”, they stayed outside the school’s main entrance, waiting for the principal to arrive. The day ended without Apat arriving in the school.
“Sinabi na ni Presidente Duterte na all public schools must be free, no tuition. Dito sa eskwelahan namin, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang PTA fee at iba pang mga contribution na aabot sa mahigit 500 pesos,” said Noronsittie Umpa-Sabdullah, one of the parents.
Most of the students in the said school were affected by Typhoon Vinta that hit Salvador town in 2017.
“Hindi na po kaya ng maraming parents dito lalo na at nagsisimula pa lang kaming bumangon mula noong tamaan ang lugar namin ng bagyong Vinta. May isang bata noong third grading na umuwi, hindi pina-take ng exam dahil hindi nakabayad ng tuition fee,” Umpa-Sabdullah added.
The tuition fee she means are the contributions that totaled to Php 540.
This paper learned that aside from the Php 100 PTA fee, the school also collected Php 50 for school band fee, Php 90 for school paper, Php 20 for the Boys Scouts of the Philippines and Girl Scouts of the Philippines and Php 20 each for the eight learning areas.
Aside from the PTA fee, which is to be collected per parent, the rest are to be collected per student.
“Ang demand namin ngayon ay automatic na mawala na ang mga malalaking contributions kasi wala din naman kaming nakikitang project na pinaglalaanan ng aming contributions,” Umpa-Sabdullah said.
SNHS has more than 1,500 students including senior high school.
“Gusto din namin na mawala ang principal namin dahil hindi makatarungan ang mga pamamaraan niya kasi yung PTA fee, nagagamit sa hindi tamang paraan,” she added.
The parents also alleged that Apat would withdraw money from the PTA even without resolution approved by the board.
“Dahil powerful siya, nagagawa niya kung ano ang gusto niya. Na-promote na siya na assistant district supervisor kaya doon nalang siya, ayaw na naming na bumalik pa siya dito,” Umpa-Sabdullah noted.
The Department of Education orders that no teacher, school officials and personnel shall collect fees/collects nor shall they be entrusted with safekeeping and disbursement of collections made by the PTA.
Mano Mangontawal, vice president of the PTA, clarified that since 2015, the parents were already asking to stop the unjust contributions but they were not heard.
They have even sent their complaints to the division office but there was no action.
Salvador NHS Assistant Principal Ester Culanag said the contributions are voluntary because there was a concensus with the parents to help the school and the teachers in the different learning areas.
Culanag added that the said contributions existed since SNHS separated from Technical Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in 2002.
“Before, medyo maliit lang ng konti (ang mga contributions) pero dahil marami na ang mga trainings and activities sa division (office) so we called for a meeting to help us kaya nag increase ng konti and it was approved by the parents,” Culanag explained.
“Ang mga binabayaran ng mga bata ay may kanya-kanyang paglalaanan. Gusto lang ng mga parents ay transparency kasi maraming beses na may pupuntahan sila (ang mga bata para mag participate sa mga official na activities) pero kailangan pa ng pera para gamitin,” she added.
Culanag clarified that if the parents want all these contributions to be abolished, a general assembly must be called, so that it will be decided by the whole body.
Who is the school head?
The parents are also demanding that Apat should not anymore transact businesses in SNHS after an order from the Schools Division Superintendent to appoint Culanag as school in-charge was issued.
Apat has been designated as Assistant to the Public Schools District Supervisor (PSDS) of Salvador.
Last month, Roy Angelo Gazo, Schools Division Superintendent of Lanao del Norte, issued an order designating Culanag as school in-charge, effective February 11.
Two after, on March 1, Gazo issued an ‘order of correction and clarification’ on the previous order designating Culanag as school in-charge.
The latest order ‘corrected’ the previous order to ‘Assistant to the School Principal.
LGU to intervene
On March 4, a group of teachers and parents asked for the help from the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Salvador town to support their complaint against Apat according to Councilor Diosdado Panal, Committee Chairman on Education.
The SB received resolutions from the teachers union and from the PTA asking for the relief of Apat, according to office of the SB Secretary.
Upon reading their complaints, Panal said, they will pass a resolution address directly to the central of the Department of Education, copy furnish to the Office of the Ombudsman and the regional office of DepEd in Region 10.
“We will take immediate action to resolve the issue,” Panal said.
Settlement or investigation
Armando Pasok, administrative officer of DepEd in Lanao del Norte, said they have not received yet any complaint against Apat but the division office is ready to investigate if the complaint is received.
“If the issue is between the ‘DepEd family’ we will try to settle it. But if it is between the parents and the principal, we will make an investigation,” Pasok said.
Apat declined to be interviewed according to Pasok.