DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) official accused of threatening an Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) professor over his child's failing grade categorically denied the allegation on Friday, March 23.
Comelec Davao regional director Remlane Tambuang issued a 3-page official statement on Friday, March 23, a day after ADDU president Father Joel Tabora released a strongly-worded statement against what the school called "parental bullying" against one its faculty members.
“I CATEGORICALLY DENY that I said, ‘WE ARE A FAMILY OF LAWYERS AND FAMILY OF KILLERS!’ I cannot possibly say that to the prestigious institution whom I trusted to mold my children,” Tambuang said in his statement posted in full by SunStar Davao on its Facebook page.
“I would like to reiterate there was no threat committed to anyone. It was a false media statement that blew out of proportion," Tambuang said in the statement.
This contradicts the version of the incident of at least two people who were present during his meeting with his son's professor on Tuesday, March 20, as documented in the incident report filed by the ADDU Emergency Operations Center with the Sta Ana Police Station.
The report said that "reportedly" according to Dean Reynante Pilapil and Assistant Dean Nelly Limbadan, "Mr Remlani Tembuang [was] quoted saying, 'Hindi 'nyo ba alam na pamilya kami ng mga lawyer at pamilya din kami ng mga killer (Don't you know that we are a family of lawyers and a family of killers?')”
In his statement, Tambuang disputed the allegations which were detailed in the incident report which identified him as the parent who had allegedly threatened an ADDU professor.
Tambuang said he was only prompted to seek a meeting with his son's professor after he received a call from his son, who was crying, that he would not be able to graduate this year because of a failing mark.
"I went to ADDU as a parent who has a son and not as a lawyer or a public official for that matter," Tambuang said.
He said he first went to ADDU on Thursday, March 15, and waited for 5 hours but the professor "never showed up." Tambuang returned on March 20, saying he sought help from faculty members “to speak with the Dean so that he can ask the teacher to talk to me.”
The March 20 meeting included Dean Reynante Pilapil, Assistant Dean Nelly Limbadan, and "Mr Pancho," the professor, referring to Neil Ryan Pancho, Director of the ADDU Center of Politics and International Affairs.
"We talked, and I asked him calmly for a clarification regarding my son’s grade," Tambuang said.
He said the professor did not present the documents he had requested, such as “test papers and attendance sheets to justify the failing mark that he gave to my son.”
"It is at this point that I got emotional being a father. I could not imagine the pain my son was experiencing at the moment. Since grade school up to now, my son is a true-blooded Atenean. He was looking forward to this graduation day," Tambuang said.
Tambuang closed his statement with an apology to people who might have been hurt by the incident, especially his children, and reiterated that he did not commit "any wrongdoing."
"Still with all honesty and sincerity, I apologize to anyone who may have been hurt because of this unfortunate incident especially to my children. I never made any wrongdoing. I was there only to ensure and protect the interest of my son," he said.
Tambuang said the issue "all started" with the Rappler article on the incident published on Wednesday, March 21, which reported that a parent had threatened an ADDU professor "with a gun" over his child's low grade the day before.
Tambuang said he was "prejudged and maligned by the people" because of the social media post on the incident and the initial report, though both did not identify any of the people involved.
"I am in public service for 21 years. Not a single criminal case, administrative case, or civil case was filed against me. My record will speak for itself," he said.
The March 21 story, which did not name any of the people involved, carried the Facebook post of ADDU professor John Harvey Gamas, who condemned the incident but did not identify anyone. The story also cited sources privy to the incident, and Judith Dalagan, ADDU Faculty Union president, who said there was no gun involved in the incident.
ADDU clarified on Thursday that there “was no gun immediately involved in this incident,” as shown by security footage, but also said that it would file a complaint against the "parent" – who was not named but only described as a "public official and a lawyer" – for his "reprehensible" actions against a faculty member.
“When a parent accompanied by relatives and body guards comes in brandishing statements like ‘WE ARE A FAMILY OF LAWYERS AND KILLERS!’ or ‘WE CAN TAKE DOWN THIS SCHOOL’ – these are statements the ADDU as a University can only take very seriously as they threaten the safety and security of its personnel,” Tabora said on Thursday.
“The ADDU is a Safe Zone not only for its students, but also for its teachers who ought to be able to teach and give out grades accordingly, free from intimidation and threats from parents or any related persons or personalities. Parental bullying based on public office or on one’s legal profession has no place at ADDU nor in any school, public or private, in the Philippines,” he added.
The incident prompted a “Code Black” alert to campus security on Tuesday, meaning, there was a "personal threat" made on campus.
The ADDU incident report also said that when Tambuang saw around 10 campus security outside the office where the incident happened he said: “Ano problema, bakit maraming guard? Hindi naman ako ganoon ka-kriminal. Hindi 'nyo ba alam na ako ang director ng Comelec? Baka gusto ‘nyo hindi bigyan ng firearms exemption ang DASIA.”
(What’s the problem, why are there so many guards? I’m not a criminal. Don’t you know I’m the Comelec director? Perhaps you don't want DASIA to be given firearms exemption.)
DASIA refers to Davao Security & Investigation Agency, Incorporated, the university’s security agency. Under Comelec rules, private security personnel should secure gun ban exemptions during the election period.
It was the first time for Tambuang to speak on the issue, after he was identified as the parent involved in the incident.
Rappler first sought his side of the story late Thursday morning, when he was identified in the ADDU incident report submitted to police, and continued until Friday, but did not receive any reply. – Rappler.com