By Ellen Tordesillas
I got this letter from Tess Tarranza, principal of Otto Lingue National High School in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.
With the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck in Eastern Samar last Friday; 5.9 in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last Monday, 5.6 in Bukidnon and PAGASA's statement that they are expecting about 10 more typhoons before the end of the year, their concern has become urgent.
"My students and I go to school everyday fearing for our lives. Anytime now, the landslide wall protecting our school buildings could collapse and a number of innocent lives would be lost.
"This wall is ruptured almost cutting the structure in half. And because we experience heavy rains almost everyday, the damage just keeps getting worse.
"God knows we have exhausted every effort appealing to the local government, and yet to this day, not one government official has taken any much needed action to repair the landslide wall. This is why Faye Reyes of CheckMySchool.org started an urgent petition on Change.org.
"I was afraid no else will listen, but this petition gives me hope that Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Victor Yu and Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co will realize that all eyes are now on them and that they should act to protect the lives of our students and teachers from an imminent landslide. Please join us.
"One local official told us that we will have to wait for the dry season before something can be done about this wall. I felt as if a part of me has already died upon hearing this. I can only silently ask myself why they have to wait for a terrible tragedy before they act.
"This school is the only place where our indigent children can dream. Despite the risk, they religiously attend class hoping this will be their ticket out of poverty. Some even hike to school for about 3-4 hours through the hills with their worn out slippers and empty stomachs every single day.
"We may only be a small school from a very poor and far flung barangay in Zamboanga del Sur, but if you add your voice to our cause, these government officials might realize that our students are much more important than politics.
"Will you help me keep them safe by calling on Cong. Yu and Mayor Co to take immediate action to repair the landslide wall and strengthen its foundation before a terrible tragedy strikes our school? "
For those who want to sign the petition, you may go to http://www.change.org/petitions/zamboanga-del-sur-cong-victor-yu-and-pagadian-mayor-samuel-co-ayusin-ang-landslide-wall-ng-otto-lingue-nhs?
Why do the principal and the parents of students in Otto Lingue NHS have to resort to an online petition to get the attention of concerned government officials?
How about the Education Secretary Armin Luistro and the concerned DEP-ED officials?