Limpag: Gwen vs. DepEd

Mike T. Limpag

GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia shut down the appeal of Department of Education Cebu Province to hold the Provincial Meet because of reported threats that teachers won’t vote for her in the next election. And caught in the crossfire are the thousands of student-athletes in Cebu Province who have been waiting for this chance since June.

What is interesting though is that though the story from the official publication of Cebu Province mentioned that the governor is being pressured to approve holding the provincial meet, in the next paragraph it seems it is only the District Supervisors of the province who she wants barred from the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa). (The report from our paper mentioned the appeal was for the students’ participation in the Cviraa.)

But first things first, that tragic incident in Boljoon last July was again mentioned as the primary reason for Governor Garcia’s action and that the students were on their way to the municipal meet. However, a DepEd official—the person is not with DepEd Cebu, lest they earn more ire—told me that it wasn’t for the municipal meet, as these are usually held in October. It was also for a cultural event, but sports got the brunt of the blame.

“It’s unfair to blame it only on sports,” the official said.

Another question: Can a governor block the holding of a provincial meet? Does DepEd need permission from the governor to hold one as the story implies? I relayed that question to someone with access to the higher-ups of the Department of Education, but there was no answer as I write this.

And since DepEd Cebu officials are under the DepEd Region 7, which is under the DepEd hierarchy, who will they obey when their higher-ups tell Cebu Province to proceed with their Provincial Meet so the student-athletes can join the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association?

It’s like the issue on the ban of tourists because of the coronavirus. The DepEd Cebu officials are in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

But since the Provincial Meet is a requirement for the Cviraa, DepEd Cebu officials have no recourse but to hold one. What they won’t have access to, unfortunately, is the Special Education Fund, which the Provincial School Board controls. Based on a brief search, the PSB is co-chaired by the governor and the provincial superintendent. But in this case, will a provincial superintendent be brave enough to defy the governor?

With no access to the SEF, Cebu Province’s participation in the Cviraa will be difficult. I think they will concentrate on the necessities like food and transpo and let the teams handle their uniform, allowance or even nutrition.

The teams with well-off parents would be lucky, not so for those that haven’t. Or even poor individual athletes.

This is going to be a difficult time for officials in DepEd Cebu, so I hope those who can support them, will support them.

What is important is that the Cebu Provincial athletes get as much support as they can when they compete in the regional meet. Thankfully, the postponement does them a favor.