WE ARE experiencing commotions and troubles and we do not know where all of these will lead us? Our President has citizens who are for or against his policies.
Some 16 million voted for him in the last elections but remember, there are more than 100 million citizens in the Philippines right now. This means that a great majority of our countrymen did not vote for him. It is bewildering.
Daily, we hear of news about the possibility of his assassination any time. Others plan to oust him for reasons known to them only. I have been monitoring daily in the trimedia news the good and the bad happenings in our country. So sad that the ratios which I gathered were 9 out of 10 are bad; 8 out of 10 are bad. Never did I see a greater ratio of good over bad in this regime. This is troubling us, citizens. I seek to see the reasons for these.
Our maverick President's pronouncements most of the time, in his own unique way, are not acceptable to the majority of the people. I look for at least, one sign where there is hope for this nation. I saw it in the planned mass action of all none partisan and apolitical citizens who want nothing but peace, orderliness, and rightful goals for the country's future.
A "Walk for Peace" was planned for February 25 to 26 at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta to commemorate the bloodless "People Power Revolution" in 1986. It is a mass action of concerned Filipinos to stop the culture of death and killings and violence in our land.
Instead, we want an atmosphere of friendlier relations with understanding, empathy, and cooperation among all citizens who, right now, are victims of the dilemmas of the present regime. I need not repeat enumerating these. All Filipinos, fully awake and concerned, know all of these.
Another item which I had to comment on is about the disastrous field trip of a group of students of Best Link College of the Philippines. This is the first time I had heard of this college. The whole country was aghast hearing the news and witnessing it in the trimedia. The twisted wreckage of the "Panda Tour Bus" and the silent witness of all broken seats, scattered personal belongings of the passengers, the dead, the wounded and the lucky survivors speak of the horror of the accident.
As a retired educator after some 53 years of teaching, I know about field trips and their importance as teaching aids to enrich learning happening inside the four walls of a classroom. I studied all the circumstances before the disaster happened. It was clear that so many activities before it happened predisposed this trip to experience the tragedy.
Investigators found out that the Panda Tour Bus had no permit or license to make this trip. One surviving student said that the driver had difficulty with the brakes because there was erratic driving at the start, zigzagging as it started to find its way. There was bad odor smelled by the students while the driver was maneuvering the bus to steady itself. The bus was overloaded; a no, no for all drivers to avoid accidents. There is the corrupt practice where they earn more fees collected from the extra passengers.
At least, one survivor said that when the brakes failed in a curve going downhill, the driver who was also killed in the accident, chose to hit a big tree on its path to stop the bus or else the bus will plunge full speed to the deep ravine below.
Many questions which I think contributed to the disaster, were in my mind. Why did the students not wear their student ID cards during the trip? Was this not required? Why were there personal belongings scattered all over the ground in disarray? Why were they so badly wounded causing their death? Help from the townsfolk where the accident happened came in late to reach the scene of the disaster. Some students died with loss of blood waiting for the rescuers.
More unanswered questions came after the tragedy. The students said they were forced to join the field trip or else they will have low grades. The school administrator said this is not true. They asked students' guardians to sign a waiver note that they are not to blame for untoward incident happening in the trip. Some guardians did not sign this. Who will pay the insurance of riders?
Panda paid some amount per student killed or wounded but this is not enough to pay hospital and funeral parlor bills including coffins. The school has no comment on the one who should be blamed and brought to court for a crime like this.
As I was writing this article, there was no answer yet. Since the driver died, who will be given the case for responsibility in this crime? One thing was sure, grieving parents' sorrow cannot be assuaged by just sympathy from the school. The dead suffered so much as was shown over TV. The wounded were likewise helpless.
Most were transferred to Amang Rodriguez Hospital in Marikina for treatment. We have yet to see who are responsible to be blamed for the tragedy to be brought to the court of Justice.
Lastly, I learned that the field trip to Tanay, Rizal, was to hold leadership training in camping and methodology of leadership. Why should this activity be held in far off Tanay?
I mentioned in my investigations of the circumstances leading to this tragedy that the tragedy should not have happened if all these questions were answered from the very start.
In all my field trips in my teaching years, I followed all these precautionary techniques to keep my students safe. The Ched and DepEd administrators have issued a moratorium to suspend all field trips for private and public grade school and high school students until all safeguards and responsibilities are clearly stated in the memoranda to be followed concerning field trips.
I hope this will be resolved since I believe the importance of educational field trips in a well rounded methodology for effective teaching is very commendable.
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