MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Education (DepEd) said on Tuesday, May 26, that British School Manila (BSM) may face sanctions in connection with the death of student Liam Madamba, who took his own life in February over problems at school.
When asked if there would be sanctions against the school, DepEd Undersecretary Alberto Muyot told reporters: “We can make a recommendation kasi pending nga ‘yung nasa Kongreso (We can make a recommendation because it’s [the measures are] still pending in Congress).”
What’s pending in Congress is Senate Bill (SB) 2147, which recognizes BSM as an educational institution of international character. The Senate committee on education, arts, and culture held a public hearing on Liam’s death on Tuesday.
But before DepEd makes any recommendations, Muyot said they will need the original report of the Independent Review Panel (IRP) conducted by the school on the incident.
Liam’s mother Trixie alleged that the BSM’s Council of Trustees had edited and abridged the report of the investigating panel. She is calling for the resignation of top BSM officials Simon Bewlay and Simon Mann for the leadership’s “bad governance.”
Liam jumped from the 6th floor of the Dela Rosa carpark building in Legazpi Village in Makati City on February 6. He was rushed to the nearby Makati Medical Center but died several hours later.
Liam, a scholar at BSM, was reportedly traumatized after one of his teachers allegedly made him apologize to the entire school body for plagiarizing a paragraph in his essay even if it was just a first draft.
Since then, the Parent-Teacher Association demanded the school to convene an IRP on the case. While an IRP was convened, it reportedly reviewed the school’s processes when dealing with a plagiarism case and not the details of Madamba’s case.
Senator Sergio Osmeña III also noted that the panel only reviewed events that happened February 2 to 5 and excluded February 6, when Liam committed suicide.
The senator, who presided Tuesday’s hearing, said the school could’ve handled things better. For example, the concerned teacher, Natalie Mann, still has a lot of questions to answer, but she already left the country mid-March and has since tended her resignation.
“Wala na yung teacher, umalis na. (The teacher is already gone, she already left.) It doesn’t matter whether she resigned or not, they should’ve informed the Department of Education right away this teacher may be charged and she’s about to leave,” he added.
But Osmeña clarified that the unfortunate incident will not affect SB 2147 because it has “nothing to do with the standards which the school has achieved, one of the highest…standards of secondary education in this country.”
“We will certainly put some amendments to protect the students, but it will in no way diminish the standards set by British School,” he explained. – Rappler.com