TEACHERS, like soldiers and military men and those in the front line of civil and public service, are expected to be exemplars of good behavior and decorum and are looked upon as role models to their pupils or students and to the community where they are based.

They act as surrogate parents and become custodians of school children once the latter are inside classrooms and within the school premises. In all instances, the teachers should put the safety and wellbeing of the students or pupils foremost in their priority list.

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It is therefore the height of impropriety when a teacher is accused of serious illegal detention for keeping a pupil, aged a little over seven years, inside the classroom for several hours when his or her parents should have been worried about the child's whereabouts.

Such serious accusation deserves not a scant consideration but a full-blown inquiry as to why a pupil, assuming he or she behaves improperly, is kept locked inside a classroom for a sustained period of time. What must be the reason or reasons that prodded the teacher to keep the Grade 1 pupil inside the room for several hours?

This scenario happened in San Roque-Bitas Elementary School in Arayat, Pampanga and the alleged serious illegal detention was written about in a local daily (not the Sun Star) putting in bad light teacher Caroline Pecson, married and in service for some fifteen years and, until this incident, has (according to her) never committed any infraction or was ever administratively sanctioned.

Mrs. Pecson, together with her husband and a male companion, came to see me last Wednesday and decried the unfair publicity and (again, according to her) the one-sided reporting of the incident. She claimed that her side of the story was not taken by the columnist who proceeded to tell the alleged victim's tale in his column.

Teacher Pecson claims her integrity and that of her family has been seriously tarnished by the report and wants to clarify matters so that the public will know the real score and true background of the serious case hurled against her.

I advised Mrs. Pecson to seek her PTA's counsel and narrate her side of the controversy, get, if any, the barangay blotter on which should be written the inquiry on the incident, plus the narration of the child pupil who holds the key to the classroom which was reported to have been locked to detain the victim pupil inside it for, as stated earlier, several hours.

I have to wait for the supporting documents before I expound on the charge. In the interregnum, all those concerned are expected to behave properly and with propriety. In all these expositions, both sides of the controversy should be given the chance or opportunity to express their respective versions. A one-sided revelation does harm to the other and that is not good journalistic exercise.

I'd like to greet the officials and staff of the Philippine National Bank Dolores Branch for their prompt attendance to my request whenever I visit their branch.

Bank people are also expected to render warm and good service to their customers. After all, the latter provide the lifeblood to the bank's existence.

I am amused by the relative calm on the political front. Is it a case of calm before the storm? Not quite, I supposed because I see aspirants moving about discreetly: in wedding ceremonies, wake and burials. For these aspirants, exposure and visibility contribute "pogi" points and add to name recall. Next month, we may expect the deluge of tarpaulins, billboards and streamers, announcing to all and sundry the aspirants' accomplishments and promises. I keep on saying: let us not be lulled into complacency in choosing our next set of leaders. Only the competent ones should be voted into office and consider the personal integrity of the candidate.