Stories of Change


Building the Wall, Four Years too Long

 December 2, 2016    

 

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by David Faustino De Castro

 

ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR—The provincial chapter of Check My School (CMS) in Pagadian City continues to lobby for the complete restoration of the landslide barrier at Otto Lingue National High School that gave way in 2012 following strong rains.

 

The said wall protects school buildings from potential erosion. Despite being completely demolished as of today, the barrier has yet to be constructed after four years.

 

Pagadian CMS Coordinator Anthony Regis says that the local government’s lack of budget to restore the wall is the main reason for the delay in the project.

 

The appeal to restore the landslide barrier only gained attention in 2012 following an online petition by CMS addressed to the local representative and mayor.

 

It states that the ruptured wall posed a risk: “the destroyed portion of [the barrier may cause] the destruction of the lives of students, teachers and school property.”

 

It adds that parents had even considered transferring their children to other schools in fear of their children’s safety.

 

Nearly 3,000 people supported the online petition.

 

One of whom was then Senator Pia Cayetano, who allocated half a million pesos of her Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for the repair of the barrier—only to be put on hold after the so-called PDAF scam in 2013.

 

Thanks to the efforts of CMS, alternative classroom areas—including a nearby barangay hall—have been provided by the local government early this year.

 

The construction of new school buildings in areas not prone to landslides is also ongoing. This has an allocated budget of at least two million pesos coming from the Department of Public Works and Highways.

 

While progress has been made, Pagadian CMS Coordinator Regis says that much more has yet to be done.

 

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“Students deserve safe learning environments. The current administration must look into an immediate form of response to be institutionalized by the local government for pressing school concerns,” he says.

 

He adds that the school structures must be completed promptly while adhering to the procurement law. “Four years is a long, unjustifiable wait,” Regis says.

 

 


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