By Wilnard Bacelonia

BRIGADA ESKWELA. Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano and DepEd Taguig-Pateros Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Ayles lead the Brigada Eskwela at the Tibagan High School in Barangay East Rembo on Tuesday (Aug. 15, 2023). Tibagan High School is one of the 14 public schools located in 10 barangays that would be transferred to Taguig’s jurisdiction from Makati, in compliance with the ruling of the Supreme Court on the territorial row between the two cities. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim) 

MANILA – The Department of Education’s (DepEd) Office of the Secretary (Osec) announced on Thursday that it assumed control over the 14 public schools affected by the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision on Taguig and Makati’s land row.

In a statement, DepEd said it recognizes the increasing tension in the 14 schools affected by the decision and the agency must “provide a safe and enabling environment for learners, teachers, and personnel” in accordance to its mandate.

“Pursuant to its mandate to provide a safe and enabling learning environment, and in the pursuit of protecting the best interest and welfare of our learners, teachers and non-teaching personnel, the DepEd has issued DO 23, s. 2023, which provides that the Office of the Secretary shall directly supervise the management and administration of all 14 schools, pending a transition plan, effective immediately,” the announcement said.

With this, all activities to be conducted within the premises of and/or in relation to the subject public schools, including those from the local government units of Makati and Taguig, shall require prior approval from the DepEd-OSec during the transition period.

Concerned school heads shall also directly report and defer to the DepEd-Osec “on matters pertaining to the daily operations of the subject public schools.

The Philippine National Police was also tasked to ensure the strict implementation of the order.

Under said order, the DepEd will create a transition committee composed of a regional director from outside the National Capital Region, both the Schools Division Superintendents of Taguig-Pateros and Makati City and also the legal officers of the two cities.

The transition committee shall “cause the preparation of a physical inventory of all properties involved; collate transition documents including, but not limited to, a complete list of existing contracts involving the operations of the subject schools; and create a Final Transition Plan.”

Cooperation assured 

Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay, in a statement, welcomed the decision of DepEd Secretary Vice President Sara Duterte saying the decision is “a step forward in ensuring the uninterrupted and quality education (the) students deserve.”

“We welcome the decision of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte to take over the management and supervision of the 14 schools. This decision will greatly ease the worries and concerns of our students, parents and teachers,” Binay said.

Binay vowed to work “wholeheartedly” with the team created by Duterte to ensure a harmonious and effective transition.

“Kaisa kami ni Vice President Sara sa kanyang layunin. Unahin natin ang kapakanan ng ating mga guro, mga kabataan at kanilang mga magulang (We are one with Vice President Sara on her objective. Let us prioritize the welfare of our teachers, our learners, and their parents),” she assured.

Binay earlier said the city government of Makati is willing to provide free uniforms, shoes, school supplies and other needs to over 30,000 public school students in 14 affected public schools which are composed of Fort Bonifacio Elementary School, Cembo Elementary School, South Cembo Elementary School, Pitogo Elementary School, East Rembo Elementary School, Rizal Elementary School, Comembo Elementary School, West Rembo Elementary School, Pembo Elementary School, Makati Science High School, Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino High School, Tibagan High School, Fort Bonifacio High School, and Pitogo High School. 

Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano also thanked Duterte for taking a decisive role in the implementation of the final and executory Supreme Court decision.

“Her leadership and wisdom at this time is very much welcomed and appreciated. Her decision to immediately form a Transition Committee without the need for a Writ of Execution, a move that was welcomed by Mayor (Abby) Binay herself, puts an end to that issue and allows all parties to move forward for the benefit of the community,” she added.

Cayetano said they are looking forward to crafting the transition plan together with the DepEd and all relevant government agencies. 

“With DepEd order 023 series of 2023, which specifically lists the collation of “transition documents” as a priority, we hope to finally receive the data that we had been requesting from Makati that would allow Taguig to extend assistance to those affected more effectively,” Cayetano said.

“We are likewise committed to the smooth, orderly, and peaceful transition – not just in the conduct relative to the administration of these schools – but in all aspects of community life affected by the Supreme Court decision,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano also welcomed Binay’s statement that she and her office will work “wholeheartedly with the transition team”.

“With this, we fully expect that this will put an end to the constant stream of misleading public pronouncements that have been coming out, and which serves no other purpose than to create confusion and anxiety at a time when we should be calming the public,” Cayetano stressed. (with report from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)