Principal protests ‘reshuffling’ of school heads in Pangasinan

THE former principal of a public elementary school in Binalonan town, Pangasinan province, has warned that cheating may occur in the upcoming midterm elections because of the abrupt reshuffling of school chiefs in her district.

The reshuffle was announced by Lelia V. Meimban, Department of Education (DepEd) Binalonan District II supervisor, during a staff conference attended by all school heads in the district, on January 11, 2012—two days before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ban on the transfer or reassignment of teachers took effect.

According to Lilibeth A. Daus, former principal of South Central School, the move was highly suspicious, considering the crucial role teachers and principals play during elections.

South Central School is one of the biggest public schools in Binalonan. It is to be designated as a polling precinct in the May polls.

The reshuffling order, signed by Division Supt. Viraluz S. Raguindin, affected at least three schools in the district. One Teodorico N. Bonilla was transferred to South Central School, replacing Daus; one Joy Victoria Bautista was reassigned to the Tabuyoc Elementary School; and Daus was transferred to the Sumabnit Elementary School.

The order also assigned Christine Victoria Meimban, the district supervisor’s daughter-in-law, as teacher in charge of the Pasileng Elementary School, where Bautista was formerly the principal. Christine was said to be “unqualified” for the post.

Since the order was handed down on a Friday, Daus said those affected had no chance to prepare for the reassignments, or in her case, appeal for reconsideration.

She also said that the order even cited a wrong DepEd order, which she said was done so hastily that the official who signed it failed to observe due diligence.

“Instead of DepEd Order 7, series of 1999 [that refers to] transfers or reassignments, the order cited DECS Order 7, Series of 1997,” Daus said.

DECS stands for the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, the DepEd’s former name.

“It came as a surprise because it is the middle of the school year,” said Daus, now “a principal with no school.”

She suspects that the reshuffling was politically motivated.

Daus has filed an appeal through proper channels, which she said only got her into more trouble.

According to her, she was eventually put on “floating status,” allegedly upon the order of Mayor Ramon Guico III of Binalonan, who reportedly sent a town councilor to tell her to stop complaining and simply follow the order.

Daus raised fears that what had happened in her district may also happen elsewhere, and is calling on Education Secretary Armin Luistro and the Comelec to act on the matter.

Jonathan L. Mayuga