Principal’s online campaign saves school from landslide-A A +A
Sunday, September 16, 2012
A SCHOOL principal has won a major people power victory by forcing the Pagadian local government to take action to save her school’s students and teachers from the threat of an impending landslide.
More than 2,600 people signed a petition on Change.org started by Otto Lingue National High School principal Tess Tarranza, who was frustrated at the lack of action by authorities to fix the ruptured landslide wall of the school in Lower Sibatang, Pagadian City.
School principal Tess Tarranza and CheckMySchool’s Faye Reyes launched the petition on Change.org just a week ago. It gathered more than 1,600 signatures in a span of 24 hours and quickly became viral on Facebook and Twitter.
Tarranza had launched the petition as a last-ditch effort after countless appeals to authorities were ignored.
"I believe everything happens for a reason. If not for this petition, these local officials would not have responded as urgently as they have done now," said Reyes.
The ruptured landslide wall of the Otto Lingue NHS located in Lower Sibatang, Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur is on the verge of collapse putting an entire class of 4th year students and teachers in danger. Huge amount of rocks and soil have already started to erode amid heavy rains that come almost every afternoon.
The students, teachers and lab facilities are now removed from the unsafe building and are transferred to safer and higher grounds. They will temporarily hold their classes in tents while official work is underway to address the problem in the long term. The building and landslide wall are now condemned and declared off limits.
“I am feeling very happy and relieved because of the local government’s commitment to save our school, as well as the overwhelming support we received online,” Tarranza said. “This is a significant victory because it shows how people with the least power in society are empowered to hold public officials accountable and compel them to take action.”
"Change.org has played a vital role in facilitating a number of supporters for the petition. Foremost, it becomes an avenue where our ‘small voice’ echoed out loud to the concerned individuals and goverment agencies,” he added.
In a round table discussion held Wednesday morning, different stakeholders including city engineers, councilors, Department of Education officials, non-government organizations, parents, barangay and school officials outlined several short and long term solutions including a disaster preparedness training for the students and a program of work to be drafted by city engineers for the school based on the recommendations by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau who will conduct an investigation next week.
Change.org is the world’s fastest growing platform for social change, enabling anyone, anywhere to start, join and win campaigns on issues they care about.
Change.org Campaigner Christine Roque said: “This petition shows that ordinary citizens can mobilize through the Internet and come together to make a difference even in the most remote communities.” (PR)