BY ROGER M. BALANZA
A Catholic church in Tibungco, Bunawan District in Davao City is not only a place of worship for students of F. Bustamante National High School.
Bustamante has malfunctioning toilets no thanks to two large overfilled septic tanks.
When the crisis to relieve themselves come, hundreds of Bustamante students run to St. Francis Xavier , where each pay P2.00 for use of the church’s comfort rooms.
The Bustamante students may not see an end to their suffering this school year even as the septic tanks have been rehabilitated (their contents siphoned off) to allow the toilets to function for use by the students.
And the culprit is no less than the highest official of Bustamante, who could not care about sanitation, student health and welfare and about St. Francis being used as toilet of her students.
School principal Dr. Marieta Munez has prevented the Bustamante Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) to pay a private contractor hired to dredge the overfilled septic tanks.
For years since the comfort room bowls suffered clogging, Bustamante students either piss on the chool’s concrete perimeter walls and other covered places or run to St. Francis Xavier to relieve themselves.
Dr. Munez apparently is not a kind-hearted principal who can see the plight of the students and would deny them such basic facility in schools as comfort rooms.
For this the Parents-Teachers Association of Bustamante National High School is bringing up charges against her to the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao over the clogged septic tanks.
In a complaint filed with the Ombudsman, PTA president Nelson Bernaldez, secretary Jocelyn Marcelino and treasurer Leonora Nasa accused Dr. Mendez of ordering Bernaldez, through another teacher, not to pay P17,500 to Hardcore Septic Cleaning Services which was hired by PTA for the cleaning job.
Reportedly, in what is called as an act of interference in PTA affairs, Dr. Munez is against the septic tanks’ rehabilitation because it was not covered by a PTA resolution.
But Bernaldez, Marcelino and Nasa, in their complaints with the anti-graft body said, the septic tanks cleaning project was approved by PTA during a General Assembly last year.
An alleged cohort of Dr. Munez, teacher Sally Aro, according to the complainants in their letter complaint to Regional Director Gloria Benigno of the DepEd regional office, also threatened the removal of Bernaldez as PTA president if Hardcore is paid for the job.
Reportedly, Dr. Munez has called for a General Assembly on May 26, purportedly to take up the expulsion of Bernaldez.
The PTA officers in an interview said they would file another charge against Dr. Munez for calling an “illegal assembly” if the gathering happens, saying that only the PTA is empowered to call a General Assembly.
In their complaint with the Ombudsman where they also accused Dr. Munez of refusing to liquidate PTA funds released to her as assistance to the principal and other teachers for attending trainings and seminars, the PTA officer begged the Ombudsman and DepEd to take immediate action against Dr. Munez.