File photo by Leanne Jazul/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Since both factions of the Philippine School of Business Administration-Quezon City (PSBA-QC) administrators cannot assure them that the school will remain open until the end of the academic year, students have gone to court to settle the matter.
Three student groups – Kabataan Para sa Mag-aaral (KPM), Junior Marketing Practitioners (JMP), and TAU GAMMA PHI (TAU) – filed on October 10 for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the impending closure of the school set on October 18.
“Is closure the only option? Why are students the collateral damage [of the corporate squabble]?” said former Quezon City councilor and PSBA-QC alumnus Antonio Enrile Inton Jr, who represented the students in court during the first hearing on Monday, October 14.
Judge Catherine Manodon of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 104 is hearing the case.
The school administration group of board members Juan Lim, Jose Peralta, and Antonio Magtalas, and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) were represented at the hearing.
Inton cited the Manual of Regulation for Private Higher Education (MORPHE) and argued the continued operation of the school means there is still a live contract between PSBA-QC and the students.
During the stipulation, the counsels for the defendants all agreed a notice of closure was issued last September 20.
But they questioned the petitioners' authority to represent the student body of PSBA-QC.
Mary Plet Paguio, president of political group KPM, said she represents both her organization and the student body of PSBA-QC.
She was worried about the scholarship of roughly 500 students in PSBA-QC and the inconvenience that transferring to the Manila campus would bring them, including additional commute fare and travel time. (READ: Uncertainties for students, teachers amid PSBA-QC board war)
"Di sasapat ang ano mang halaga para ibigay iyon sa amin. Yung kaba, yung araw-araw kang papasok...'di nyo alam kung gaano kalaki 'yung pinagdadaanan ng mga estudyante. Di lang sa amin, sa magulang namin. Laging iniisip nila kung okay lang kami sa eskwela."
(No amount of money will be enough for us. The anxiety that every day you go to school...you don't know the burden students have to go through. Not just us, [but also] our parents. They always worry if we're okay in school.)
Gregorio Bonifacio, counsel for Lim, Peralta, and Magtalas, asked Paguio if she knew their scholarships would be continued once admitted in PSBA-Manila. She answered no.
Bonifacio was also curious why the TRO was sought just a week before the closure when Paguio knew about the notice ever since it was posted in the school website. She said they had no capacity yet to file the case at that time.
National Service Training Program (NSTP) director Evans Pino later testified on the authenticity of an enrollment schedule for next semester signed by Dean Raul Addatu and posted all over the campus. Lawyer Vicente Topacio said this document is important to establish that students and their parents have already been informed of the enrollment.
Pino, however, cannot recall if it was issued before or after the notice of closure. The petitioners' legal counsel presented the rest of their evidence after.
When it was time for the defendants to present their evidence, either they were not prepared because of the “short notice” or some of their documents were not original or certified true copies.
Inton requested the documents be submitted Wednesday morning at the latest since the hearing on the TRO is an urgent matter.
Once the court grants the TRO, the defendants must refrain from implementing the contents of the notice of closure, including the closure of the school itself and all its educational programs effective October 18.
CHED earlier scheduled a mediation between factions of the school management last week, but Pino said only one group showed up.
The petitioners took CHED to task for its "irresponsible, premature and biased statement to say the least, to the damage and prejudice of our instititution, and we as students and our parents and guardians."
They were referring to earlier statements made by CHED chair Patricia Licuanan in news reports that the closure is the school's "call, that's the thing with private schools." She also called October graduates "lucky...to get out before the crisis."
They called Licuanan's statements irresponsible especially since CHED-National Capital Region director Catherine Castañeda earlier told them she still had to recommend the issue to the commission en banc. (READ: CHED says PSBA-QC can't close down mid-year) – 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.