30 MisOr teachers face graft charges

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/2 June) – Thirty fourth year advisers of the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS) may be in hot water after the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao Station ordered them to explain the alleged illegal collection of fees from graduating students of the class of 2010.

The order stems from a complaint filed by Siegfred Padua, president of the Seniors Executive Council-Parent-Teachers Association for school year 2009-2010, at the Ombudsman last April 6 for violation of Republic Act 5546 (An Act prohibiting the collection of contributions from school children of public primary, intermediate and high schools ) and RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Maria Iluminada Lapid-Viva, acting director of OMB-Mindanao, in the case docketed under OMB-M-C-11-0138-D, ordered the 30 fourth year high school advisers to submit their counter-affidavits and controverting evidence to the complaint lodged against them.

The respondents are Emelda Arabala, Jennifer Parcutilo, Ester Lisondra, Simplicia Rodriguez, Thelma Fabre, Mary Ann Manla, Ruel Murillo, Ma. Rosalyn Jangao, Rafunzel Epanis, Marissa Cordova, Janet Abao, Chita Paraguya, Evangeline Malazarte, Natalie Gadrinab, Danny Asio, Nelda Orpilla, Roldan Magsacay, Maria May Melo, Ronor Escabarte, Lucy Perocho, Edgardo Rondina, Janneth Rondina, Rolly Labis, Merly Pandan, Haidee Salcedo, Rodulfo Angulo, Florentino Castro, Cornelia Paje, Israel Esclamado and Imelda Bia.

But the teachers’ direct superior, MOGCHS principal Pedro Montejo, said the charges are part of the hazards a public servant faces.

“It (the OMB order) doesn’t hold any water. That’s the denominator of a public servant, you are always under the scrutiny of the public’s eye,” Montejo said.

“This is plain harassment. Everybody can do this against us through the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.

In a text message, Padua claimed the fourth year advisers “enforced to collect the amount of P330 per graduating student for graduation ball without the approval of SEC-PTA officers for SY 09-10.”

He said almost 1,030 students paid the amount, totaling P339,900.

Padua said the teachers and Montejo are equally culpable for violating DepEd’s 2010 graduation rites guidelines.

“Montejo admitted that they received the copy of DepEd Order No. 13 on the first week of March last year,” he noted.

Under DepEd Order No. 13, “public schools are not allowed to collect any graduation fees or any kind of contribution for graduation rites.”

The order stated that the PTA “may solicit minimal voluntary contributions from their members for graduation ceremonies and celebrations.”

However, the order issued by then Education Secretary Jesli Lapuz specified that “teachers and principals should not be involved in said contributions.”

Padua also claimed the teachers did not coordinate with them regarding the collection, nor were there proper reports made, which he said are requirements explicitly stated in the DepEd order. (Cong Corrales / MindaNews)