DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A legal counsel of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines said that the Commission on Higher Education has no injunctive power like courts to issue a moratorium which is a temporary prohibition of a certain activity such as educational field trips.
“Moratorium? CHED has no injunctive power like the courts. And even the court hears before it issues injunctive or restraining orders, what makes CHED more powerful than the courts?” Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada, CEAL legal counsel, told Davao Today Wednesday in reaction to CHED moratorium order.
On Tuesday, CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan issued an order imposing a moratorium on field trips and other similar activities covered under CHED Memorandum Order No. 17, series of 2012.
CHED’s moratorium order was approved the Commission en Banc with the concurrence of CHED’s Management Committee following the recent bus crash incident in Tanay, Rizal that claimed the lives of 15 individuals.
“In lieu of field trips or external campus activities, all HEIs should institute replacement activities that will serve the purpose intended by such off-campus activities, preserve the objectives sought to be achieved, and see to it that no student shall be negatively affected by this moratorium,” Licuanan said.
The CHED chairperson also pointed out that CHED’s moratorium “shall continue and remain in effect until all measures have been undertaken to effectively address the issues concerning field trips.”
“Including the stringent procedures supposed to be adopted by HEIs to ensure the safety and welfare of the concerned HEI stakeholders, as embodied in the enhanced CMO regarding the conduct of field trips and other related activities,” Licuanan said.
But Estrada emphasized that CHED could not issue an order that violates what he called as “the non-impairment of obligations and contracts.”
“The government should instead focus on the aggrieved families of those who perished and injured in the tragic event and make those at fault liable, and not make knee-jerk orders that add more to the confusion and expose even more the inadequacy of needed gov’t policies and regulations,” he added.
Estrada said that in the wake of the Tanay bus crash incident the recurring issue on safety of students on field trips requires more than a moratorium.
“It requires a careful crafting of a multi-agency Guidelines which includes CHED, DepEd, LTFRB, and other relevant agencies including the private education sector,” he said.
He said that “schools are not experts in transportation. It has no in-depth knowledge whether a bus is in good condition and relies on permits, franchises, and licenses issued to transport companies it engages for trips outside of the school.”
Meanwhile, the CEAP lawyer pointed out that while field trips and educational tours while necessary in supplementing classroom learning and instruction, “it should not be made compulsory to students.”
“The school should provide alternative in-school activities where the same learning objective may be achieved by the students if conducted off-campus,” Estrada said. (davaotoday.com)