In an apparent effort to save face and quell the international uproar as a consequence of the actions of Pastor Brian Shah and Principal Cristeta A. Pedro to rid Saviour’s Christian Academy (SCA), Laoag City, of three students by “advising” them to transfer to other schools effective immediately because they spoke Ilocano during their school break in violation of a school speak-English-only-in-school policy, the officials of the school have a change of heart as reported below by ABS-CBNnews.com.
The three students are Carl Andrew A. Abadilla, Kleinee Bautista and Samuel Respicio. Two of the three 13-year-old boys reportedly have already arranged to transfer to other schools.
“This is a case of going around the bush,” commented Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, who initiated a petition against SCA and some officials of the school. “And clearly so.”
MANILA – A school in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte which moved to kick out 3 students for speaking in Ilocano is taking back its decision.
The Saviour’s Christian Academy (SCA) said its gates are now open to the three students who had been advised last week to look for another school after they were heard speaking in the regional language.
In an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com, SCA lawyer Jaime Agtang said: “We have opened our gates to them…It’s up to them if they want to come back.”
He said the school did not “expel” the students – Grade 8 students Kleinee Bautista, Carl Abadilla and Samuel Respicio – but merely advised them to look for another school following their supposed indiscretions.
“It was an advisory. The advise was just a notice, which we could have replied to by way of probable communication,” he said.
Agtang said it was just a “misapprehension and misunderstanding” on the part of the parents, which led them to believe that the students were expelled.
The school has an English-speaking policy, which means students, parents and even teachers, are barred from speaking other languages – even Ilocano – inside the campus.
ABS-CBNnews.com was earlier furnished a copy of the letter signed by Principal Cristeta Pedro. The letter reads: “After you have been warned by Pastor Brian Shah not to speak Iloko, you still continued to defy his order. In view of this, you are advised to transfer to another school effective today, July 31, 2013.”
Agtang said Pedro went to the US a few days after, which was why the school failed to immediately act on the appeal of the parents.
“There was no forcible act of driving them out of school. It was a plain and simple act of misunderstanding and misapprehension,” he said.
Carl’s mother, court stenographer Lamar Abadilla, earlier said they sought several times for an audience with Shah, who was the one who reprimanded the students and ordered Pedro to write the notice. She said Shah “doesn’t want to anymore. He said he’s busy.”
The school’s move has affected the boys, aged 13. Both Kleinee and Carl were described to have been traumatized and depressed.
The news triggered several reactions, both from Filipino communities here and abroad. Social workers from abroad have also offered their counseling to the boys.
In an open letter, Aurelio Agcaoili and Raymund Llanes Liongson of the Nakem Conferences International and University of Hawaii in the USA told Shah: “Your act of ‘advising’ these students to look for another school is expulsion. Let us not go around the bush.”
“You have done damage to the students, and you have done damage to the Ilokano language…You have done damage to the Ilokano communities all over the Philippines, and you have done damage to the Ilokano communities in the diaspora to which we belong.”
They asked Shah if such kind of policy will harness the full potential of the students. “Do you think that by depriving these students of their Ilokano language, they will become good citizens, citizens who are sensitive to the diversity of their own community and their own country…”
The Nakem Conferences also created an online petition via Change.org, asking the departments of Education and Foreign Affairs to ask Shah, a Singaporean, to leave the country.
Besides their support of the students, the group also said: “We are signing this Petition in support of these students, in support of the need to preserve and promote the languages of the Philippines, and in support of the institution of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education in the country.”
Some parties have thrown their support for Shah, however. They said Shah has been working in the education sector there for 27 years and has offered scholarships to several students.
Abadilla’s mother could not be contacted. Bautista’s mother, on the other hand, asked not to comment anymore.
Agtang said the problem was threshed out on Thursday morning with the affected parties and in front of DepEd Superintendent Araceli Pastor.
He said the students can already return to school on Friday.