MANILA, Philippines – Students can breathe easy for now: there will be no abrupt closure of the Philippine School of Business Administration-Quezon City (PSBA-QC) by the end of the first semester on October 18.
Commission on Higher Education-National Capital Region (CHED-NCR) Director Catherine Castañeda, in a letter dated September 26, said a higher education institution may voluntarily initiate an outright closure for valid cause and in compliance with conditions set by the commission, but only after an academic year.
The letter addressed to PSBA-QC dean Raul Addatu and outgoing student council (SC) president Gary Sampedro cited Section 62 of the Manual of Regulation for Private Higher Education (MORPHE).
School officials read the letter during the open forum held on Monday, September 30, at the school grounds.
The school sought CHED's assistance on the impending closure announced on the school's website on September 20 and put out in newspapers last September 25, September 27, and September 30.
Help from Congress
“Those paid ads are taking their toll on us. All of us are affected as an academic community, including the parents. What can we do about this?” a faculty member asked during the forum.
The question was directed to Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, who came to support the school's stand against the “illegal” closure. Baguilat's sister studies in this school.
He suggested for the school to file an injunction case against further publication of the notice of closure.
Baguilat, a member of the House of Representatives' committee on higher and technical education, said if the closure still pushes through despite CHED's stand on the matter, Congress may intervene.
“I don't think we in Congress or in the committee would allow such an arbitrary decision to close the school. We will not allow it, and if ever the intent to close the school is going to push through, definitely we can call a congressional inquiry into this. That's something I can commit to,” he said during the open forum.
He echoed incumbent school president Benjamin Paulino, who said a school's operation is not a simple business venture but one which affects public interest.
National Service Training Program (NSTP) director Evans Pino said Senator Bam Aquino will also help them out.
Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler
The notice said the school is being closed due to "serious business losses that have been sustained for the past eight years."
Faculty members said this is not possible, considering the campus has a bigger student population compared to its Manila counterpart.
Students have doubts too.
"Kung 'di po nalulugi yung school, saan naman po napupunta yung binabayaran namin? Kasi po 'yung facilities, hindi okay. Yung mga ilaw, sira. Yung CR, hindi mapakinabangan," a student asked Paulino.
(If the school is not suffering business losses, where do our payments go? The school's facilities are not okay. The lights are broken. The comfort rooms cannot be used.)
Paulino explained he was removed as signatory of the school's bank account after the board decided he is no longer school president and board member. The students' initial tuition payments were deposited in that account.
The school, he said, makes ends meet with the students' more recent payments. He's also looking into legal actions to question the bank's decision to remove Paulino as a signatory.
The new school administration earlier asked students to pay their payments directly to UCPB's Loyola Heights Branch. But outgoing student council treasurer Jervina Gainsan said students still pay their tuition to Paulino's staff, who issues their test permits.
Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler
One parent urged everyone to file a case against board members Juan Lim and Jose Peralta for damages done by the notice of closure.
“Magwawala talaga kami kung [isasara] 'nyo 'to. Gusto kong i-emphasize sa inyo na hindi kayo ang apektado, kami, kasi hard-earned money yung ipinapaaral namin sa mga batang ito. [Dalhin] natin 'to kung saan 'to aabutin, mag-file tayo ng kaso against them.”
(We will rally if you close the school down. I want to emphasize that [the school administrators] are not the ones affected, but us, because it is our hard-earned money that sends these children to school. Let's bring this to wherever possible, let's file a case against them.)
But Paulino's legal counsel said they're careful not to directly incite students, parents, and personnel to file a case because they want a fair fight.
“Si Atty Paulino may sariling laban. Yung mga estudyante, faculty members pati rin po parents may sariling karapatan. Itong karapatang ito, ire-recognize ito ng korte kung dadalhin ninyo yung issue sa kanila.”
(Atty Paulino has his own battle. Students, faculty members and parents have their own rights. The court will recognize these rights if you bring the issue to them.)
Sampedro said the student council already met with a lawyer who is a PSBA-QC alumnus to discuss legal remedies they may pursue. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.