Rally mars second graduation rite in Cebu school

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


CEBU -- Some 30 students and teachers of the Talisay City College (TCC) held a rally to try to stop the school’s second graduation ceremony on Monday, but they could not keep Mayor Johnny V. de los Reyes from holding it for 460 graduates.

It was the second graduation ceremony for TCC, which has been embroiled in leadership issues after the mayor appointed Dr. Paulus Cañete the new college president.

Even though they already attended the graduation ceremony organized by acting TCC president Richel Bacaltos last March 27, students and their parents still attended Monday’s ceremony in deference to the mayor.

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But Vice Mayor Romeo Villarante questioned the need to hold another graduation, finding it a waste of city funds.

TCC graduation rally

CEBU. Some 30 students and teachers of TCC staged a protest nearby to demand the removal of Dr. Paulus Cañete, who they think is not fit for the job of the TCC presidency. (Alex Badayos/Sun.Star Cebu)


Funds

City Administrator John Yre de los Reyes, the mayor’s son, said expenses for Monday’s graduation were charged to the mayor’s discretionary fund. He does not know yet how much the City spent for it.

For the ceremony last Thursday, however, TCC spent P40,000 using donations and contributions, he said. The students were not asked to pay any fee for both graduation rites.

At around 2 p.m. Monday, close to 30 students and faculty members of TCC held the rally at the back of City Hall to stop the graduation and to call for the ouster of Cañete.

In a press conference before the graduation started, the mayor said that while he understands the protesters’ sentiments, he asked them not to disrupt the graduation ceremony.

He also urged them to meet him in his office rather than bring their message to the streets.

‘Support’

In an interview, Cañete said the protest proved that the protesters were “supporting” him.

“Their protest is proof that they are supporting us. Kung nagtuo sila nga ang among graduation kay illegal, ila unta ming ipadakop sa pulis (If they think our graduation was illegal, then they should have arrested us),” Cañete said.

Talisay City College graduation repeated

GRADUATION REPEATED. Unmindful of the protest seeking his ouster as Talisay City College president, Dr. Paulus Cañete, together with Northwestern Christian University president Bishop Dr. Howard Sarkela (in white cassock) and other TCC faculty members, proceeds with the second graduation ceremony at the Talisay City Hall.(Alex Badayos/Sun.Star Cebu)


Elmer Montejo, a TCC teacher, joined the rally and urged de los Reyes to remove Cañete and respect the college’s Board of Trustees.

Montejo told reporters that both the mayor and Cañete should respect the decision of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and the Board in reappointing Bacaltos and giving the latter the authority to confer this year’s graduates.

Montejo, who led the group of protesters, carried banners and placards bearing the words “Oust Cañete” and “Cañete step down.”

Montejo, an English teacher, said he is not afraid of being removed from his post as he was merely “standing for what is right and lawful.”

He also urged Cañete to solve the problem of the Mandaue City College (MCC) before he meddles in TCC’s affairs.

Cañete, who was an appointee of former Mandaue City mayor (now Provincial Board member) Thadeo Ouano, was ousted president of MCC in 2008 and replaced by incumbent Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes.

‘Not recognized’

TCC registrar Loulette Zafra, who also joined the rally, said the second graduation organized by de los Reyes and Cañete will not be recognized.

Some parents who sympathized with their children also participated in the rally on Monday.

Perly Echavez, one of the parents, said she helped organize the protest rally as she felt sorry for her son who would have been forced to join another graduation.

“Naglibog mi nganong duha ang graduation. Akong anak, wala na nako papasoha kay humana man siya og paso (I don’t understand why there are two graduation ceremonies. I kept my son from joining the second graduation because he already attended last week’s graduation),” Echavez said.

But some relatives of the graduating students said they saw nothing wrong with a second graduation.

Novie Cantones, whose sister joined Monday’s graduation, said they did not want to get involved in the political squabbling and only wants her sister to get a diploma.

Frank Manubag, one of the graduates, said he and his fellow students had informed Bacaltos that they would attend the second graduation out of respect for the mayor.

Fewer graduates

Despite the rally, the graduation ceremony went on. By 5 p.m., around 460 graduates gathered in front of City Hall for the commencement exercises.

The number was fewer than the 725 graduates who joined the graduation organized by Bacaltos last week.

In his speech, de los Reyes did not mention the conflict between Cañete and Bacaltos but instead reminded the graduates that successful endeavors always began with one’s self.

Among the guests in Monday’s graduation were City Councilors Dennis Basillote and Valeriano Ylanan; Dr. Edgar Martinez, the dean of instruction and discipline; City Legal Officer Alfredo Sipalay and other school officials.

Governor Hilario Davide III and members of the Board of Trustees were invited to the graduation ceremonies but they were not present.

Honoris Causa

Before confirming the graduates, the mayor received an honorary degree of “honoris causa” by the Northwestern Christian University headed by its founding president, Bishop Dr. Howard Sarkela.

De los Reyes was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Humanities.

TCC was established in 1994 during the term of then mayor Eduardo Gullas. Since it was opened, the college has produced topnotchers in the Licensure Exam for Teachers for five consecutive years. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2014.

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