AC Council upholds court ruling on Chevalier’s existence

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THE RULE of law has prevailed. The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Angeles City, through City Councilor Doc Alfie Bonifacio, committee chairman on education, has concluded during the 9th and final hearing on Chevalier School’s existence to uphold the ruling of the Regional Trial Court Branch 58 – Angeles City.

The decision was promulgated on December 26, 2019 in the case of Chevalier School Employees Union, et. al, vs. Chevalier School, Inc. et. al. and docketed as Civil Case No. R-ANG-17-00615-CV to continue Chevalier School’s operations until the end of school year 2033 and beyond. The RTC rendered confirmation, validation and making permanent the writ of preliminary injunction dated March 24, 2017 citing “a reasonable basis on the need to protect petitioners-students’ right to finish their course and the necessity to grant injunction on the respondents’ imminent act of executing a new lease of contract that materially invades petitioners-students’ rights to education.” The petition was filed on behalf of the petitioners-students by CS parent and lawyer Regina C. Gopez-Agustin.

The hearing was also attended by Councilor Marino Banola, MSC rector Fr. Sabino Roquero, CS High School OIC Ervin Sombillo, admission personnel, retired faculty members Fe Quiambao and Carol Castro, PTA Vice-President Glenn Zamora, Sacred Heart Alumni Association President Veejay Tanglao and Caballero-alumnus.

For two hours, Councilors Bonifacio, Banola and all the guests physically present in the legislative building waited for Archbishop Florentino Lavarias to return his call despite his confirmation to participate in the hearing. “Phone call na nga lang hindi pa sumasagot or tumawag, he snubbed or ignored our hearings not just once but twice, samantalang lahat tayo kahit may strict quarantine protocols nag aattend tayo physically,” Bonifacio commented. Councilor Bonifacio said, “Nobody’s above the law. In behalf of Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Pogi Lazatin Jr., Vice Mayor Vicky Vega and all the honorable members of the City Council, I have filed resolutions supporting the enforcement of the said court ruling of RTC Branch 58, and I strongly urged the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga (RCASF) to abide to the rule of law. Once a Caballero, always a Caballero.” The said resolutions are expected to be co-authored and approved unanimously by the council session Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the HS OIC Sombillo and the admission office will announce through their CS Official Facebook page and website to accept enrollees for SY 2021-2022 based on the RTC ruling. The stakeholders thanked Bonifacio for conducting the longest and unprecedented committee hearings to guarantee unhampered quality education for 1,300 Caballeros, and safeguard the employment of 89 teaching and non-teaching personnel.

Moreover, DepEd Division of City School-Angeles City representative Glen Sarmiento, who is in charge of private schools, said their primary concern is the welfare of the students and teaching personnel because at present no schools, both public and private, can accommodate student-transferees and may invalidate their benefits from the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHSVP) which is a financial assistance wherein subsidies in the form of vouchers are provided to qualified SHS learners in participating private or non-DepEd public SHSs. He also added that there are no available slots or teachers’ items in the workforce of the Division of City Schools-Angeles City to hire the displaced teachers.

“We are determined to enforce the RTC ruling, inasmuch as there is already a final, valid, binding, and executory decision enjoining Chevalier School to continue its operation until school year 2033, the MSC have to comply and abide with the lawful order of the court”, emphasized Atty. Gopez-Agustin. “The MSC is obliged to continue its operations and accept enrollees. Actually from the beginning we were not obliged to file a case against them because in effect there is already a binding lease agreement for 99 years. But out of respect we did the right thing to do and the honorable court acknowledged the merit of our case. We did our best to win and together we won’t stop fighting for our children’s future,” she asserted.