Senate report recommends DOJ probe into BSM student's death
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Senate committee on education, arts, and culture has recommended a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the death of British School Manila (BSM) student Liam Madamba, who took his own life in February reportedly over problems at school.
The 24-page committee report submitted on September 30 urged the DOJ to:
- Determine any criminal or civil liability of Madamba's teacher Natalie Mann "in the tragic death of Liam Madamba"
- Determine any criminal or civil liability of the BSM administrators, teachers, the Board of Governors and the Council of Trustees for the "alteration/change" of the report of an Independent Review Panel (IRP) convened to review the school's processes in dealing with plagiarism
Liam, a scholar at BSM, met Mann on February 5 – a day before he took his life. He and another student were asked by Mann to write a letter of reflection for plagiarizing a paragraph in a first-draft essay.
According to Trixie Madamba, Liam's mother, the letter was addressed to the "whole school community." Mann said in her statement submitted to the Senate that the students were asked to write a letter apologizing to Simon Mann (not related to Natalie), school head of BSM, although he would never see the letter.
According to the IRP report, the students saw the reflection process as a punishment. But Mann did not immediately read Liam's letter which, according to Trixie, showed "red flags...that the child was going through a seriously alarming emotional distress."
On February 6, Liam jumped from the 6th floor of the Dela Rosa carpark building in Legazpi Village in Makati City. He was rushed to the nearby Makati Medical Center but died several hours later. (READ: BSM: Connection between student's death, school reprimand)
His teacher, Mann, left the country mid-March and has already tendered her resignation.
Aside from Liam's death, the Senate committee hearings on the incident also discussed allegations that BSM "doctored" the IRP report. The school defended the changes as corrections to "factual inaccuracies."
Senators, however, were of the impression that the report was "sanitized without consulting the authors." (READ: Osmeña: British School doctored report on student's 'plagiarism')
Aside from the DOJ probe, the Senate committee report also recommended that the Department of Education (DepEd) determine whether BSM violated DepEd rules and regulations, including the 2010 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education and the department's Child Protection Policy.
The report urged DepEd to determine if BSM should be sanctioned under Section 189 of the Revised Manual of Regulations, which includes the suspension or revocation of the permit or recognition to operate the school, among other penalties.
The report also includes recommendations for the International Baccalaureate Office in relation to regulations regarding plagiarism, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, on BSM's compliance with pertinent Philippine laws.
In a statement sent to Rappler on Thursday, October 8, Simon Mann said they recognize and respect the authority of the Senate as a legislative body.
"We trust that in due time, the matters contained in this report will be clarified," he added.
Read the full report here, signed by Senate committee chairperson Pia Cayetano, and vice chairpersons Sergio Osmeña III, Teofisto Guingona III, and Loren Legarda.
The committee also submitted Senate Bill (SB) 2975 – a substitute bill to SB 2147, which recognizes BSM as an educational institution of international character.
Beyond the recognition, the new bill indicates that the school "shall be subject to applicable laws, rules and regulations and other issuances issued by the government and to such limitations as the [DepEd] may impose." – Rappler.com