DepEd takes supervision of EMBO schools in Makati-Taguig row

The Department of Education (DepEd) has assumed authority over the 14 public schools affected by the Supreme Court (SC) decision on the territorial dispute between the cities of Makati and Taguig.

Based on a department order (DO) dated August 16, DepEd recognized the “increasing tension” brought about by the ruling to the schools, causing “uncertainty as to the peaceful and orderly reopening of schools on August 29, 2023.”

The DepEd said that the Office of the Secretary (OSec), headed by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, would now directly supervise the schools, pending a transition plan on the matter.

“The subject schools are DepEd schools. Hence, in the pursuit of protecting the best interest and welfare of our learners, teachers, and non-teaching personnel, the Office of the Secretary shall directly supervise the management and administration of all 14 schools, pending a transition plan, effective immediately,” the DO read.

The 14 schools affected are: Makati Science High School, Comembo Elementary School, Rizal Elementary School, Pembo Elementary School, Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino High School, Tibagan High School, Fort Bonifacio Elementary School, Fort Bonifacio High School, Pitogo Elementary School, Pitogo High School, Cembo Elementary School, East Rembo Elementary School, West Rembo Elementary School, and South Cembo Elementary School.

The DepEd said that during the transition period, all activities to be conducted within the premises of and/or in relation to the affected public schools, including those from the Local Government Units of Makati and Taguig, shall require prior approval from the OSec.

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

DepEd said it has created a Transition Committee tasked with creating a final transition plan, among others.

It also noted that the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall ensure the strict implementation of this Order.

Not a ‘take over’

In a CNN Philippines interview, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa explained that the DepEd will not “take over” the public schools as the operations of these institutions are really under DepEd, and not the local government units (LGUs) involved.

“Actually, ang mga schools naman natin, talagang under ng DepEd ‘yan. Hindi naman na-devolve ‘yung basic education sa LGUs, so ang na-devolve lang would be the school buildings,” he said.

(Our schools are actually under DepEd. Basic education has not been devolved in LGUs, only the school buildings were devolved.)

“Hindi naman take-over, but it’s just para isa na lang muna ang magbibigay ng instructions pagdating sa ating mga paaralan, ‘yung 14 schools affected. Kaya sinabi natin na direct supervision ng management and administration ‘yung Office of the Secretary,” he added.

(It’s not a take-over, but it’s just to allow only one giving instructions when it comes to the 14 schools affected. That’s why we said that the direct supervision of the management and administration will be from the Office of the Secretary.)

Poa said that it is still unclear who would pay the utilities and security of the schools, thus the transition team is important to address the matter.

He said the DepEd will find ways to shoulder the operating expenses of the affected schools through its contingency plan if there won’t be a smooth transition between both cities.

Makati, Taguig to coordinate

Both the cities of Makati and Taguig welcomed the DepEd order, vowing to coordinate with the transition committee to craft the transition plan.

“This decision will greatly ease the worries and concerns of our students, parents and teachers. Kaisa kami ni Vice President Sara Duterte sa kanyang layunin. Unahin natin ang kapakanan ng ating mga guro, mga kabataan at kanilang mga magulang [We are one with Duterte in this goal. Let’s prioritize the welfare of our teachers, youth, and their parents],” Binay said in a statement.

Binay added that she looks forward to working “wholeheartedly” with the team created by Vice President Duterte.

“We are one with Vice President Sara on her objective. Let us prioritize the welfare of our teachers, our youths and their parents,” added Binay.

Taguig City also lauded the DepEd’s move and voiced support for the establishment of a transition committee.

“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,” said the City of Taguig.

In 2021, the SC ruled that the Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation, consisting of parcels 3 and 4, psu-2031, was part of the territory of Taguig City. The SC has also denied Makati’s motion for reconsideration in 2022 and 2023 on the matter.

Due to this, around 30,000 students coming from the enlisted men’s barrios (EMBO) schools in the ten barangays that used to be part of Makati are caught in between the two cities’ dispute.

Makati over the weekend accused Taguig of “forcibly” trying to take over the EMBO public schools. Taguig, however, denied this claim, calling it a “lie and another desperate attempt to mislead the public.”

Makati City Mayor Abby Binay earlier said she will seek “clarifications” on the ownership issues on EMBO public schools affected by the SC decision.

Binay made the remark as she asserted that the SC ruling pertains to the cities’ territorial row but not the “ownership” rights of the public schools which were paid for and “owned” by Makati.

Tha Makati mayor has also asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to “intervene” and assist in the transition of some barangays to the Taguig City government. –VAL, GMA Integrated News

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