WHILE most local government units (LGUs) in Metro Cebu canceled and suspended classes at the preschool, kindergarten, elementary and high school levels on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in view of typhoon Tisoy, the Mandaue City Government did not make a similar move.
Was Mayor Jonas Cortes out of town or was he not worried about the lives and safety of the city’s students, especially those in the mountain barangays who have to cross rivers to get to school?
The weather bureau Pagasa placed Metro Cebu area under public storm signal No. 1 and preschool and kindergarten classes were automatically suspended. But it was only on Tuesday, Dec. 3, that Mandaue City suspended classes. It was too late by then.
In an interview with Regional GMA 7 TV Balitang Bisdak last Monday, lawyer Edu Ybañez, the mayor’s executive assistant and public information officer, blamed the Department of Education (DepEd) for the mess. He insisted that the announcement that classes were suspended should have been made by the agency.
Beside, he said the local disaster office did not make any recommendation because the situation was still normal. The water level at the Butuanon River did not rise. Susmaryosep, kanus-a pa man ‘ta manguros, inig maigo na ‘ta sa kilat?
Don’t throw the blame on DepEd, Attorney Ybañez, because your local chief executive has the power to suspend and cancel classes like what Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Ahong Chan, Talisay City Mayor Samsam Gullas and Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia did. I think Ybanez should review the guidelines on the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 66, or the prescribing rules on the cancellation or suspension of classes and work in government offices due to typhoons, flooding, other weather disturbances and calamities.
While the power to suspend and cancel classes is given to DepEd, it is also stipulated in the guidelines that any decision to cancel or suspend classes must come from the local government unit. A school head may cancel or suspend classes in cases where urgent action is needed to prevent loss of life and bodily harm.
Here’s what the guidelines say about the matter:
Automatic cancelation/suspension of classes; All concerned DepEd officials and personnel are directed to observe the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) announcement through various media outlets (radio, television and internet). When signal No. 1 is raised by Pagasa, public and private preschool and kindergarten classes in the affected areas shall be automatically canceled or suspended. When No. 2 is raised, public and private preschool, kindergarten, elementary and secondary classes in affected areas shall be automatically canceled or suspended. When signal No. 3 is raised, work in all DepEd offices shall be automatically canceled or suspended.
In the absence of typhoon signal warnings from Pagasa, localized cancelation/suspension of classes in both public and private schools and work in government offices may be implemented by local chief executives in their capacity as chairpersons of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.
As stated in Section 2 of EO No. 66, LGU officials are expected to announce cancellation or suspension not later than 4:30 a.m. for whole day cancellation or suspension, or not later than 11:00 a.m for afternoon cancellation or suspension. Regional, division and school officials are hereby directed to communicate local situation with their respective counterpart local chief executive.
I think these are very clear guidelines to avoid throwing blame. It is just a matter of coordination. On the other hand, the other controversy that usually crops up during cancelation of classes is that some private schools do not adhere to the announcement of the LGU and insist on holding classes, claiming they have target school days to comply with. Which they do prefer, the target school days to comply with or the safety and lives of their students?