Education office asked: Probe Cebu school-A A +A
Thursday, September 20, 2012
CEBU CITY - The mother of Kyle Julian Gullas Weckman, the Cebu International School (CIS) student who died during a field trip in Luzon last week, has asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to conduct a fact-finding inquiry on the trip.
DepEd-Central Visayas Assistant Regional Director Carmelita Dulangon said she received Jacqueline Gullas-Weckman’s letter last Monday and endorsed it to DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro last Tuesday.
“We are waiting for instructions from the central office,” Dulangon told Sun.Star Cebu.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a “lookout bulletin” against one of the CIS teachers who supervised the Bataan trip, whom the DOJ identified as Susan Rigby Ward. (In the CIS website, one teacher is listed as Susan Rigby.)
Nelson Gallentes, head supervisor of the Bureau of Immigration at the Mactan Cebu International Airport, said that since they received the bulletin last Monday, no person named Susan Ward has appeared at the immigration counter.
Ward reportedly booked a 12:30 p.m. Cathay Pacific flight bound for Hong Kong on Wednesday, but Gallentes said a passenger with that name did not appear before any of the immigration counters.
In an interview, Alien Control Officer Casimiro Madarang III of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued an alert order to keep the teacher from leaving the country, even if there are no charges filed against her yet.
De Lima has received a letter-request from the Gullas family, asking the agency not to allow Ward to leave the country because they are reportedly going to file charges against her for homicide through reckless imprudence.
Dulangon, for her part, said the local office forwarded the mother’s letter to DepEd Secretary Luistro’s office because CIS is an international school and its permits are filed directly at the central office. Also, their legal consultants hold office in Manila.
While Dulangon was abroad last week, Luistro reportedly instructed DepEd-Central Visayas officer-in-charge Caridad Labe to look into the September 12 drowning incident.
Sun.Star Cebu tried to speak with CIS, but Paula Ruela, head of the school’s marketing and public relations office, declined to comment. In a text message, she said she was not aware of the DOJ advisory.
Weckman and his Korean classmate Jae Hak “James” Jung drowned in the Kariukan Falls in Morong, Bataan last September 12.
Last Friday, officials from DepEd-Central Visayas and DepEd Cebu City Schools Division went to the CIS to inquire about the death of the two students, but school officials told them to wait for an official report as they were still conducting an investigation.
On the CIS website, the school’s Board of Trustees announced it has set up an investigation committee last September 14. The committee is chaired by Mimo Osmeña, corporate secretary f the CIS Board of Trustees.
The members include the president of the Korean community at CIS, a representative from the CIS Parents and Teachers Association, and the dean of the CIS Student Services.
“We are confident that the investigation will lead to the most objective assessment of what actually happened,” said CIS Superintendent Deidre Fischer in a statement posted on the school website last September 14.
Dulangon said that once Secretary Luistro gives them the go-signal, the DepEd-Central Visayas regional investigation committee, with a representative from the City Schools Division, will start the inquiry.
Dulangon said they will check whether the school followed the DepEd guidelines on the conduct of field trips.
Kyle Gullas Weckman was a grandson of former congressman Jose “Dodong” Gullas.
Madarang clarified there is no hold-departure order against Ward yet, because only the court can issue that order once a case is filed in court and evidence against the accused has been established.
Last Monday, Representative Eduardo R. Gullas (Cebu, 1st district), a grand-uncle of Kyle, reportedly inquired with BI Cebu if Ward can leave the country even if she is under investigation by DepEd authorities.
Congressman Gullas was told that as long as there is no case filed against Ward and no hold departure order or alert order is issued, Ward can leave any time she wants.
Ward has reportedly filed for a leave of absence for two weeks to seek medical treatment abroad.
According to records of the BI, Ward arrived in Cebu last July 17 with a temporary visitor’s visa.
Last August 15, the CIS filed a petition to convert her temporary visitor’s visa to working visa under Section 9(G) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.
In the petition, the CIS said that Ward will assume the position of English teacher.
Madarang said that the BI Cebu Office favorably endorsed the application, which is now pending for approval by the immigration commissioner. (RSB/EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 20, 2012.