“Let us spare the schools from politics,” Bacolod Councilor Homer Bais, who believes that somebody is using the schools for political advancement, said yesterday.
Bais has authored a resolution inquiring from Education Secretary Armin Luistro, who and what office had sanctioned the “Jam Step,” compulsorily conducted and performed by all public school students, pupils and teachers in Bacolod City.
He said they are waiting for the reply of the DepEd because they have received feedback that hours that are supposed to be devoted to the studies of the students are being sacrificed for the “jam step.”
Bais, chairman of the Sanggunian Committee on Education, said that under the Local Government Code, the School Board is the governing body on local matters relating to the DepEd.
The (jam step) did not pass the Sanggunian, that is why he is inquiring from DepEd Secretary, who sanctioned it, he said.
In an interview over Bombo Radyo, Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez Jr. said the Departments of Health and Tourism have endorsed the Jam Step program.
He claimed that Health Secretary Enrique Ona saw it as a very good program to prevent communicable diseases, promote a healthy lifestyle and said he will make it a major program of the Department of Health.
This is also being endorsed by the DOT and Bacolod is going to be a destination for this kind of activity, he added.
Golez said this is a national “Jam Step” being done by students all over the country and he was surprised that the Sanggunian of Bacolod City is against this kind of program. This is going to be supported by many organizations, he said.
“Unfortunately, in Bacolod it is only the Sanggunian that is not supporting it. So I am wondering, other than politics, I do not know what is in their mind,” Golez said.
Asked if he has informed the Department of Education of the program, Golez only said “I have worked for this government for such a long time, I have known this people and I have built relations.”
Golez said this is a privilege they are giving the children that they will become positive influencers of a healthy lifestyle in their age. “We should advocate a healthy lifestyle and it should start with the children,” he said.
PRINCIPALS, TEACHERS’ RISK
Bais said this will be a big risk on the part of the principals and teachers in the event that something happens to the students involved in activities not authorized by the DepEd.
“I know of a teacher whose retirement was withheld because something happened to a student who was involved in a Boy Scout activity that had no directive from the school,” he said.
On the part of the School Board, they have spent as much as P120 million to support the education program of the city, Bais said.
Upon enrollment, the Boy Scout, Girl Scout, Anti-TB and miscellaneous fees of the students are being subsidized by the city through the School Board. They also subsidize the salaries of local teachers, he said.
Now here comes a program on which the students and their parents will have to spend, which is not fair, Bais said, after receiving information that the students have to spend for their uniforms.
Bacolod Schools Division Superintendent Gemma Ledesma said it is not compulsory. Anybody who wants to join the “Jam Step” can just join, she said.
DepEd regional director Mildred Garay said she was informed by Ledesma that the event will fall on a Sunday and it is not compulsory.
“I see it as something to do with health. We also do some exercises during the flag ceremony so I do not see it as political, she said. If other people see it that way, maybe it is because of the people initiating it, and that would be another story,” she added.*CGS