The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), a campus activist group, announced Friday it is eyeing the filing of cases against Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairman Prospero De Vera III for abandoning the agency’s mandate on multiple occasions.
SPARK said that De Vera should have issued memoranda that would ensure accessibility of education to the marginalized sections.
The latest, according to SPARK, was the absence of guidelines on the conduct of online classes in light of the damages inflicted by the past five typhoons.
De Vera said in a news article that suspension of classes and postponement of deadlines were up to the mandate of individual school administrations, and that “you cannot cancel classes for the entire country if the effects are only in some parts of the country.”
“What CHEd officials must realize is that distance learning can no longer be covered by their present guidelines which are already outdated. With online classes, suspension of university operations can no longer be territorial in scope. One may be enrolled at a school in Metro Manila but also residing in Legazpi City which lies in the traditional route of typhoons,” SPARK spokesperson John Lazaro explained.
Numerous student councils and campus groups have been calling for academic breaks to class suspensions and postponement of academic deadlines for the last two weeks after Typhoon Quinta battered the Bicol region, which makes distance learning unfeasible.
SPARK on Thursday appealed for a weeklong nationwide suspension of all classes at all levels until November 19 as a response to the continuing onslaught of typhoons.
The group insists that the present set up which authorizes heads of local government units or school administrators to declare class suspensions based on the forecasts of the weather bureau is only appropriate under face-to-face classes.
“First came Typhoon Quinta which wrecked Bicol,” he explained. “Then came Typhoons Rolly, Siony, Tonyo, and Ulysses which further set back recovery efforts in already battered regions. Significantly, eleven of the country’s seventeen regions have been affected by floods, power outages, and intermittent to no internet connection,” he said.
He added that the sheer scope of the storms and the number of families affected in the eleven regions is valid enough to deduce that classes on all levels nationwide must be urgently suspended to give way for families to recover and infrastructure damages be repaired.
The group said that besides the lack of guidelines pertaining to the suspension of classes, CHEd had consistently missed out on its mandate since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“De Vera has left us no choice but to finally take legal action in order to attain justice for the millions he has consistently abandoned. Stonewalling our legitimate pleas is not public service. We deserve more. See you in court, Mr. De Vera,” Lazaro said.