MANILA, Philippines --- The tragic death of seven persons, including two students and two teachers, during a field trip in Benguet, closely following the death of two high school students in another school out-of-town activity in Tanay, has sparked a new clamor for banning such mandatory school events.
Meanwhile, Sen. Edgardo Angara called on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to suspend all scheduled field trips in light of the bus accident that occurred in Benguet.
Angara, who chairs the committee on education, arts, and culture, said a moratorium on school excursions should be in place while authorities are still investigating the accident that claimed the lives of several students and faculty members of the Marinduque State College (MSC).
"Our prayers are with the families of those who figured in this tragic accident," said Angara.
"But this kind of field trip, though it may help domestic tourism, does not necessarily help the study of tourism," he said.
At the same time, Camiguin Rep. Romualdo Pedro urged the Department of Education (DepEd) and CHED to reconsider allowing schools to organize field trips and other out-of-school activities for students.
Citing the tragic Marinduque State College field trip to Baguio City, Romualdo said he could not see any reason for schools to conduct educational field trips when such method of teaching was never practiced in the past.
The 31 tourism students and two teachers from MSC, including two tour guides, were on the Baguio leg of a three-day Manila-Ilocos-Baguio educational tour, when their bus driver lost control and collided with two other vehicles.
Seven fatalities have since been reported, with the remaining currently hospitalized at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center for critical injuries.
Angara said educational tours are often very expensive, costing an average of P5,000 to P10,000 per student.
"Field trips must be conducted without endangering the lives of students and imposing high financial burden on their families," said the former UP President.
Angara said trips to hotels, restaurants and other hospitality institutions within the province or region of the school can still provide educational value to tourism students.
"I urge CHED to issue a moratorium until they have devised a more reasonable set of criteria for allowing such trips," he said.
Two weeks earlier, two high school students of Holy Spirit Academy were killed in a freak accident that marred the school's field trip to Camp Capinpin in Tanay.
In urging for a total ban on field trips, Romualdo said, "I don't see the wisdom of requiring field trips. During our time, we did not have field trips, but we managed to learn a lot in school."
He said requiring students to travel far exposes them to accidents and also imposes additional financial burden on parents who have to shoulder expenses like fare, board and lodging, and allowances.
However, a previous appeal seeking an end to expensive field trips was rejected by DepEd.
TEAM P-Noy senatorial candidate Edgardo "Sonny" Angara backed the DepEd decision, citing the importance of allowing students to hold out of school educational events.
"I don't think we should ban field trips, those are extra curricular activities that can also be sources of information for the students," said Representative Angara, chairman of the House committee on higher education.