A member of the House committee on technical and higher education said he would question officials of the Bulacan State University (Bulsu) on their standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding field trips in the wake of the Aug-19 field trip accident resulting in the death by drowning of seven tourism students of the state university.
Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said he is already preparing a list of questions for Bulsu officials who will be going to the House of Representatives where they will defend their budget under the 2015 proposed budget for state universities and colleges.
Gatchalian said his first question for Bulsu officials is ‘why were the parents of the students who joined the field trip in Barangay Sibul in San Miguel town not immediately informed by school authorities about the accident, particularly by the faculty members who were with the students?’
“I can emphatize with the parents of the victims since it was only through the mass media that they learned about the accident involving their children, and I can just imagine the stress and anxiety they experienced while waiting for an official word from Bulsu,” said Gatchalian, a former mayor of Valenzuela City, which used to be a part of Bulacan province.
Gatchalian said that it should be SOP on the part of the school to immediately inform the parents of any accident befalling a field trip and similar external activities since they were the ones who gave permission for the children to join the school-sanctioned field trip.
Another SOP that Gatchalian would ask Bulsu officials is about the complain of local officials of San Miguel town that no coordination was made with them by Bulsu regarding the field trip to Madlum cave in Barangay Sibul.
“Since the Bulsu students are not from San Miguel town, it would have been prudent on the part of Bulsu officials to coordinate the field trip with barangay officials who are familiar with the terrain and the possible dangers that they might encounter in their trekking activity,” Gatchalian said.
The Valenzuela City lawmaker also exposed surprised over media reports that the tourist guides of the Bulsu students forced them to cross the Madlum River when it was not part of the itinerary of the field trip.
It was stated in reports that the Bulsu students were accompanied by five tourist guides and three faculty members, who are now the subject of an investigation being conducted by the Bulacan State University administration.
Gatchalian said he would also question the practice of state universities and colleges in getting a signed waiver from parents whenever there are field trips and similar activities which Bulsu did for its tourism students who joined the Aug-19 field trip.
The administration of Bulsu on Wednesday (Aug. 20) suspended all student field strips scheduled in the next months, following the Aug 19 drowning of seven freshman tourism students of the College of Home Economics that included Helena Marie Marcelo, Mikhail Alcantara, Sean Rodney Alejo, Michelle Anne Rose Bonzo, Mary Magdaline Navarro (17), Jeannette Rivera (16), and Maiko Eleva Bartolome (26), who is a former Eat Bulaga dancer and a relative of provincial treasurer Belinda Bartolome.
Bulacan Provincial Board Member Michael Fermin, who authored an ordinance that regulates school field trips in the province, said there might have been lapses committed by the people who organized the trip. (Monica Cantilero)